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Title: The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7): Assyria - The History, Geography, And Antiquities Of Chaldaea, - Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, And Sassanian - or New Persian Empire; With Maps and Illustrations.
Author: Rawlinson, George, 1812-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7): Assyria - The History, Geography, And Antiquities Of Chaldaea, - Assyria, Babylon, Media, Persia, Parthia, And Sassanian - or New Persian Empire; With Maps and Illustrations." ***

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With Maps and Illustrations



[Illustration: Map1]



"Greek phrase[--]"--HEROD. i. 192.

The site of the second--or great Assyrian-monarchy was the upper
portion of the Mesopotamian valley. The cities which successively formed
its capitals lay, all of them, upon the middle Tigris; and the heart of
the country was a district on either side that river, enclosed within
the thirty-fifth and thirty-seventh parallels. By degrees these limits
were enlarged; and the term Assyria came to be used, in a loose and
vague way, of a vast and ill-defined tract extending on all sides from
this central region. Herodotus considered the whole of Babylonia to be a
mere district of Assyria. Pliny reckoned to it all Mesopotamia. Strabo
gave it, besides these regions, a great portion of Mount Zagros (the
modern Kurdistan), and all Syria as far as Cilicia, Judaea, and

If, leaving the conventional, which is thus vague and unsatisfactory, we
seek to find certain natural limits which we may regard as the proper
boundaries of the country, in two directions we seem to perceive an
almost unmistakable line of demarcation. On the east the high
mountain-chain of Zagros. penetrable only in one or two places, forms a
barrier of the most marked character, and is beyond a doubt the natural
limit for which we are looking. On the south a less striking, but not
less clearly defined, line--formed by the abutment of the upper and
slightly elevated plain on the alluvium of the lower valley--separates
Assyria from Babylonia, which is best regarded as a distinct country. In
the two remaining directions, there is more doubt as to the most proper
limit. Northwards,we may either view Mount Masius as the natural
boundary, or the course of the Tigris from Diarbekr to Til, or even
perhaps the Armenian mountain-chain north of this portion of the
Tigris, from whence that river receives its early tributaries. Westward,
we might confine Assyria to the country watered by the affluents of the
Tigris, or extend it so as to in elude the Khabour and its tributaries,
or finally venture to carry it across the whole of Mesopotamia, and make
it be bounded by the Euphrates. On the whole it is thought that in both
the doubted cases the wider limits are historically the truer ones.
Assyrian remains cover the entire country between the Tigris and the
Khabour, and are frequent on both banks of the latter stream, giving
unmistakable indications of a long occupation of that region by the
great Mesopotamian people. The inscriptions show that even a wider tract
was in process of time absorbed by the conquerors; and if we are to draw
a line between the country actually taken into Assyria, and that which
was merely conquered and held in subjection, we can select no better
boundary than the Euphrates westward, and northward the snowy
mountain-chain known to the ancients as Mons Niphates.

If Assyria be allowed the extent which is here assigned to her, she will
be a country, not only very much larger than Chaldaea or Babylonia, but
positively of considerable dimensions. Reaching on the north to the
thirty-eighth and on the south to the thirty-fourth parallel, she had
a length diagonally from Diarbekr to the alluvium of 350 miles, and a
breadth between the Euphrates and Mount Zagros varying from about 300 to
170 miles. Her area was probably not less than 75,000 square miles,
which is more than double that of Portugal, and not much below that of
Great Britain. She would thus from her mere size be calculated to play
an important (part) in history; and the more so, as during the period of
her greatness scarcely any nation with which she came in contact
possessed nearly so extensive a territory.

Within the limits here assigned to Assyria, the face of the country is
tolerably varied. Possessing, on the whole, perhaps, a predominant
character of flatness, the territory still includes some important
ranges of hills, while on the two sides it abuts upon lofty
mountain-chains. Towards the north and east it is provided by nature
with an ample supply of water, rills everywhere flowing from the
Armenian and Kurdish ranges, which soon collect into rapid and abundant
rivers. The central, southern, and western regions are, however, less
bountifully supplied; for though the Euphrates washes the whole western
and south-western frontier, it spreads fertility only along its banks;
and though Mount Masius sends down upon the Mesopotamian plain a
considerable number of streams, they form in the space of 200 miles
between Balls and Mosul but two rivers, leaving thus large tracts to
languish for want of the precious fluid. The vicinity of the Arabian and
Syrian deserts is likewise felt in these regions, which, left to
themselves, tend to acquire the desert character, and have occasionally
been regarded as actual parts of Arabia.

The chief natural division of the country is that made by the Tigris,
which, having a course nearly from north to south, between Til and
Samarah, separates Assyria into a western and an eastern district. Of
these two, the eastern or that upon the left bank of the Tigris,
although considerably the smaller, has always been the more important
region. Comparatively narrow at first, it broadens as the course of the
river is descended, till it attains about the thirty-fifth parallel a
width of 130 or 140 miles. It consists chiefly of a series of rich and
productive plains, lying along the courses of the various tributaries
which flow from Mount Zagros into the Tigris, and often of a
semi-alluvial character. These plains are not, however, continuous.
Detached ranges of hills, with a general direction parallel to the
Zagros chain, intersect the flat rich country, separating the plains
from one another, and supplying small streams and brooks in addition to
the various rivers, which, rising within or beyond the great mountain
barriers, traverse the plains on their way to the Tigris. The hills
themselves--known now as the Jebel Maklub, the Ain-es-sufra, the
Karachok, etc.--are for the most part bare and sterile. In form they
are hogbacked, and viewed from a distance have a smooth and even outline
but on a nearer approach they are found to be rocky and rugged. Their
limestone sides are furrowed by innumerable ravines, and have a dry and
parched appearance, being even in spring generally naked and without
vegetation. The sterility is most marked on the western flank, which
faces the hot rays of the afternoon sun; the eastern slope is
occasionally robed with a scanty covering of dwarf oak or stunted
brushwood. In the fat soil of the plains the rivers commonly run deep
and concealed from view, unless in the spring and the early summer, when
through the rains and the melting of the snows in the mountains they are
greatly swollen, and run bank full, or even overflow the level country.

The most important of these rivers are the following:--the Kurnib or
Eastern Khabour, which joins the Tigris in lat. 37° 12'; the Greater Zab
(Zab Ala), which washes the ruins of Nimrud, and enters the main stream
almost exactly in lat. 30°; the Lesser Zab (Zab Asfal), which effects
its junction about lat. 35° 15'; the Adhem, which is received a little
below Samarah, about lat. 34°; and the Diyaleh, which now joins below
Baghdad, but from which branches have sometimes entered the Tigris a
very little below the mouth of the Adhem. Of these streams the most
northern, the Khabour, runs chiefly in an untraversed country--the
district between Julamerik and the Tigris. It rises a little west of
Julamerik in one of the highest mountain districts of Kurdistan, and
runs with a general south-westerly course to its junction with another
large branch, which reaches it from the district immediately west of
Amadiyeh; it then flows due west, or a little north of west, to Zakko,
and, bending to the north after passing that place, flows once more in a
south-westerly direction until it reaches the Tigris. The direct
distance from its source to its embouchure is about 80 miles; but that
distance is more than doubled by its windings. It is a stream of
considerable size, broad and rapid; at many seasons not fordable at all,
and always forded with difficulty.

The Greater Zab is the most important of all the tributaries of the
Tigris. It rises near Konia, in the district of Karasu, about lat. 32°
20', long. 44° 30', a little west of the watershed which divides the
basins of Lakes Van and Urymiyeh. Its general course for the first 150
miles is S.S.W., after which for 25 or 30 miles it runs almost due south
through the country of the Tiyari. Near Amadiyeh it makes a sudden turn,
and flows S.E. or S.S.E. to its junction with the Rowandiz branch
whence, finally, it resumes its old direction, and runs south-west past
the Nimrud ruins into the Tigris. Its entire course, exclusive of small
windings, is above 350 miles, and of these nearly 100 are across the
plain country, which it enters soon after receiving the Rowandiz stream.
Like the Khabour, it is fordable at certain places and during the summer
season; but even then the water reaches above the bellies of horses. It
is 20 yards wide a little above its junction with the main steam. On
account of its strength and rapidity the Arabs sometimes call it the
"Mad River."

The Lesser Zab has its principal source near Legwin, about twenty miles
south of Lake Urumiyeh, in lat. 36° 40', long. 46° 25'. The source is to
the east of the great Zagros chain; and it might have been supposed that
the waters would necessarily flow northward or eastward, towards Lake
Urumiyeh, or towards the Caspian. But the Legwin river, called even at
its source the Zei or Zab, flows from the first westward, as if
determined to pierce the mountain barrier. Failing, however, to find an
opening where it meets the range, the Little Zab turns south and even
south-east along its base, till about 25 or 30 miles from its source it
suddenly resumes its original direction, enters the mountains in lat.
36° 20', and forces its way through the numerous parallel ranges,
flowing generally to the S.S.W., till it debouches upon the plain near
Arbela, after which it runs S.W. and S.W. by S. to the Tigris. Its
course among the mountains is from 80 to 90 miles, exclusive of small
windings; and it runs more than 100 miles through the plain. Its
ordinary width, just above its confluence with the Tigris, is 25 feet.

The Diyaleh, which lies mostly within the limits that have been here
assigned to Assyria, is formed by the confluence of two principal
streams, known respectively as the Holwan, and the Shirwan, river. Of
these, the Shirwan seems to be the main branch. This stream rises from
the most eastern and highest of the Zagros ranges, in lat. 34° 45',
long. 47° 40' nearly. It flows at first west, and then north-west,
parallel to the chain, but on entering the plain of Shahrizur, where
tributaries join it from the north-east and the north-west, the
Shirwan changes its course and begins to run south of west, a direction,
which, it pursues till it enters the low country, about lat. 35° 5',
near Semiram. Thence to the Tigris it has a course which in direct
distance is 150 miles, and 200 if we include only main windings. The
whole course cannot be less than 380 miles, which is about the length of
the Great Zab river. The width attained before the confluence with the
Tigris is 60 yards, or three times the width of the Greater, and seven
times that of the Lesser Zab.

On the opposite side of the Tigris, the traveller comes upon a region
far less favored by nature than that of which we have been lately
speaking. Western Assyria has but a scanty supply of water; and unless
the labor of man is skilfully applied to compensate this natural
deficiency, the greater part of the region tends to be, for ten months
out of the twelve, a desert. The general character of the country is
level, but not alluvial. A line of mountains, rocky and precipitous, but
of no great elevation, stretches across the northern part of the region,
running nearly due east and west, and extending from the Euphrates at
Rum-kaleh to Til and Chelek upon the Tigris. Below this, a vast
slightly undulating plain extends from the northern mountains to the
Babylonian alluvium, only interrupted about midway by a range of low
limestone hills called the Sinjar, which leaving the Tigris near Mosul
runs nearly from east to west across central Mesopotamia, and strikes
the Euphrates half-way between Rakkeh and Kerkesiyeh, nearly in long.

The northern mountain region, called by Strabo "Mons Masius," and by the
Arabs the Karajah Dagh towards the west, and towards the east the Jebel
Tur, is on the whole a tolerably fertile country. It contains a good
deal of rocky land; but has abundant springs, and in many parts is well
wooded. Towards the west it is rather hilly than mountainous; but
towards the east it rises considerably, and the cone above Mardin is
both lofty and striking. The waters flowing from the range consist, on
the north, of a small number of brooks, which after a short course fall
into the Tigris; on the south, of more numerous and more copious
streams, which gradually unite, and eventually form two rather important
rivers. These rivers are the Belik, known anciently as the Bileeha, and
the Western Khabour, called Habor in Scripture, and by the classical
writers Aborrhas or Chaboras. [PLATE XXII., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 22]

The Belik rises among the hills east of Orfa, about long. 39°, lat. 37°
10'. Its course is at first somewhat east of south; but it soon sweeps
round, and, passing by the city of Harran--the Haran of Scripture and
the classical Carrh--proceeds nearly due south to its junction, a few
miles below Rakkah, with the Euphrates. It is a small stream throughout
its whole course, which may be reckoned at 100 or 120 miles.

The Khabour is a much more considerable river. It collects the waters
which flow southward from at least two-thirds of the Mons Masius, and
has, besides, an important source, which the Arabs regard as the true
"head of the spring," derived apparently from a spur of the Sinjar
range. This stream, which rises about lat. 36° 40', long. 40°, flows a
little south of east to its junction near Koukab with the Jerujer or
river Nisi-his, which comes down from Mons Masius with a course not
much west of south. Both of these branches are formed by the union of a
number of streams. Neither of them is fordable for some distance above
their junction; and below it, they constitute a river of such magnitude
as to be navigable for a considerable distance by steamers. The course
of the Khabour below Koukab is tortuous; but its general direction is
S.S.W. The entire length of the stream is certainly not less than 200

The country between the "Mons Masius" and the Sinjar range is an
undulating plain, from 60 to 70 miles in width, almost as devoid of
geographical features as the alluvium of Babylonia. From a height the
whole appears to be a dead level: but the traveller finds, on
descending, that the surface, like that of the American prairies and the
Roman Campagna, really rises and falls in a manner which offers a
decided contrast to the alluvial flats nearer the sea. Great portions of
the tract are very deficient in water. Only small streams descend from
the Sinjar range, and these are soon absorbed by the thirsty soil; so
that except in the immediate vicinity of the hills north and south, and
along the courses of the Khabour, the Belik, and their affluents, there
is little natural fertility, and cultivation is difficult. The soil too
is often gypsiferous, and its salt and nitrous exudations destroy
vegetation; while at the same time the streams and springs are from the
same cause for the most part brackish and unpalatable. Volcanic action
probably did not cease in the region very much, if at all, before the
historical period. Fragments of basalt in many places strew the plain;
and near the confluence of the two chief branches of the Khabour, not
only are old craters of volcanoes distinctly visible, but a cone still
rises from the centre of one, precisely like the cones in the craters of
Etna and Vesuvius, composed entirely of loose lava, scorim, and ashes,
and rising to the height of 300 feet. The name of this remarkable hill,
which is Koukab, is even thought to imply that the volcano may have been
active within the time to which the traditions of the country extend.
[PLATE XXII., Fig. 2.]

Sheets of water are so rare in this region that the small lake of
Khatouniyeh seems to deserve especial description. This lake is situated
near the point where the Sinjar changes its character, and from a high
rocky range subsides into low broken hills. It is of oblong shape, with
its greater axis pointing nearly due east and west, in length about four
miles, and in its greatest breadth somewhat less than three. [PLATE
XXIII., Fig. 1] The banks are low and parts marshy, more especially on
the side towards the Khabour, which is not more than ten miles distant.
In the middle of the lake is a hilly peninsula, joined to the mainland
by a narrow causeway, and beyond it a small island covered with trees.
The lake abounds with fish and waterfowl; and its water, though
brackish, is regarded as remarkably wholesome both for man and beast.

[Illustration: PLATE 23]

The Sinjar range, which divides Western Assyria into two plains, a
northern and a southern, is a solitary limestone ridge, rising up
abruptly from the flat country, which it commands to a vast distance on
both sides. The limestone of which it is composed is white, soft, and
fossiliferous; it detaches itself in enormous flakes from the
mountain-sides, which are sometimes broken into a succession of
gigantic steps, while occasionally they present the columnar appearance
of basalt. The flanks of the Sinjar are seamed with innumerable ravines,
and from these small brooks issue, which are soon dispersed by
irrigation, or absorbed in the thirsty plains. The sides of the mountain
are capable of being cultivated by means of terraces, and produce fair
crops of corn and excellent fruit; the top is often wooded with fruit
trees or forest-trees. Geographically, the Sinjar may be regarded as
the continuation of that range of hills which shuts in the Tigris on the
west, from Tekrit nearly to Mosul, and then leaving the river strikes
across the plain in a direction almost from east to west as far as the
town of Sinjar. Here the mountains change their course and bend to the
south-west, till having passed the little lake described above, they
somewhat suddenly subside, sinking from a high ridge into low undulating
hills, which pass to the south of the lake, and then disappear in the
plain altogether. According to some, the Sinjar here terminates; but
perhaps it is best to regard it as rising again in the Abd-el-aziz
hills, which, intervening between the Khabour and the Euphrates, run in
the same south-west direction from Arban to Zelabi. If this be accepted
as the true course of the Sinjar, we must view it as throwing out two
important spurs. One of these is near its eastern extremity, and runs to
the south-east, dividing the plain of Zerga from the great central
level. Like the main chain, it is of limestone; and, though low, has
several remarkable peaks which serve as landmarks from a vast distance.
The Arabs call it Kebritiyeh, or "the Sulphur range," from a sulphurous
spring which rises at its foot. The other spur is thrown out near the
western extremity, and runs towards the north-west, parallel to the
course of the upper Khabour, which rises from its flank at Ras-el-Ain.
The name of Abd-el-aziz is applied to this spur, as well as to the
continuation of the Sinjar between Arban and Halebi. It is broken into
innumerable valleys and ravines, abounding with wild animals, and is
scantily wooded with dwarf oak. Streams of water abound in it.

South of the Sinjar range, the country resumes the same level appearance
which characterizes it between the Sinjar and the Mons Masius. A low
limestone ridge skirts the Tigris valley from Mosul to Tekrit, and near
the Euphrates the country is sometimes slightly hilly; but generally the
eye travels over a vast slightly undulating level, unbroken by
eminences, and supporting but a scanty vegetation. The description of
Xenophon a little exaggerates the flatness, but is otherwise faithful
enough:--"In these parts the country was a plain throughout, as smooth
as the sea, and full of wormwood; if any other shrub or reed grew there,
it had a sweet aromatic smell; but there was not a tree in the whole
region." Water is still more scarce than in the plains north of the
Sinjar. The brooks descending from that range are so weak that they
generally lose themselves in the plain before they have run many miles.
In one case only do they seem sufficiently strong to form a river. The
Tharthar, which flows by the ruins of El Hadhr, is at that place a
considerable stream, not indeed very wide but so deep that horses have
to swim across it. Its course above El Hadhr has not been traced; but
the most probable conjecture seems to be that it is a continuation of
the Sinjar river, which rises about the middle of the range, in long.
41° 50', and flows south-east through the desert. The Tharthar appears
at one time to have reached the Tigris near Tekrit, but it now ends in a
marsh or lake to the south-west of that city.

The political geography of Assyria need not occupy much of our
attention. There is no native evidence that in the time of the great
monarchy the country was formally divided into districts, to which any
particular names were attached, or which were regarded as politically
separate from one another; nor do such divisions appear in the classical
writers until the time of the later geographers, Strabo, Dionysius, and
Ptolemy. If it were not that mention is made in the Old Testament of
certain districts within the region which has been here termed Assyria,
we should have no proof that in the early times any divisions at all had
been recognized. The names, however, of Padan-Aram, Aram-Naharaim,
Gozan, Halah, and (perhaps) Huzzab, designate in Scripture particular
portions of the Assyrian territory; and as these portions appear to
correspond in some degree with the divisions of the classical
geographers, we are led to suspect that these writers may in many, if
not in most cases, have followed ancient and native traditions or
authorities. The principal divisions of the classical geographers will
therefore be noticed briefly, so far at least as they are intelligible.

According to Strabo, the district within which Nineveh stood was called
Aturia, which seems to be the word Assyria slightly corrupted, as we
know that it habitually was by the Persians. The neighboring plain
country he divides into four regions--Dolomene, Calachene, Chazene,
and Adiabene. Of Dolomene, which Strabo mentions but in one place, and
which is wholly omitted by other authors, no account can be given.
Calachene, which is perhaps the Calacine of Ptolemy, must be the tract
about Calah (Nimrud), or the country immediately north of the Upper Zab
river. Chazene, like Dolomene, is a term which cannot be explained.
Adiabene, on the contrary, is a well-known geographical expression. It
is the country of the Zab or Diab rivers, and either includes the whole
of Eastern Assyria between the mountains and the Tigris, or more
strictly is applied to the region between the Upper and Lower Zab, which
consists of two large plains separated from each other by the Karachok
hills. In this way Arbelitis, the plain between the Karachok and Zagros,
would fall within Adiabene, but it is sometimes made a distinct region,
in which case Adiabene must be restricted to the flat between the two
Zabs, the Tigris, and the harachok. Chalonitis and Apolloniatis, which
Strabo seems to place between these northern plains and Susiana, must be
regarded as dividing between them the country south of the Lesser Zab,
Apolloniatis (so called from its Greek capital, Apollonia) lying along
the Tigris, and Chalonitis along the mountains from the pass of Derbend
to Gilan. Chalonitis seems to have taken its name from a capital city
called Chala, which lay on the great route connecting Babylon with the
southern Ecbatana, and in later times was known as Holwan. Below
Apolloniatis, and (like that district) skirting the Tigris, was
Sittacene, (so named from its capital, Sittace which is commonly
reckoned to Assyria, but seems more properly regarded as Susianian
territory.) Such are the chief divisions of Assyria east of the Tigris.

West of the Tigris, the name Mesopotamia is commonly used, like the
Aram-Naharaim of the Hebrews, for the whole country between the two
great rivers. Here are again several districts, of which little is
known, as Acabene, Tigene, and Ancobaritis. Towards the north, along the
flanks of Mons Masius from Nisibis to the Euphrates, Strabo seems to
place the Mygdonians, and to regard the country as Mygdonia. Below
Mygdonia, towards the west, he puts Anthemusia, which he extends as far
as the Khabour river. The region south of the Khabour and the Sinjar he
seems to regard as inhabited entirely by Arabs. Ptolemy has, in lieu of
the Mygdonia of Strabo, a district which he calls Gauzanitis; and this
name is on good grounds identified with the Gozan of Scripture, the true
original probably of the "Mygdonia" of the Greeks. Gozan appears to
represent the whole of the upper country from which the longer affluents
of the Khabour spring; while Halah, which is coupled with it in
Scripture, and which Ptolemy calls Chalcitis, and makes border on
Gauzanitis, may designate the tract upon the main stream, as it comes
down from Ras-el-Ain. The region about the upper sources of the Belik
has no special designation in Strabo, but in Scripture it seems to be
called Padan-Aram, a name which has been explained as "the flat Syria,"
or "the country stretching out from the foot of the hills." In the later
Roman times it was known as Osrhoene; but this name was scarcely in use
before the time of the Antonines.

The true heart of Assyria was the country close along the Tigris, from
lat. 35° to 36° 30'. Within these limits were the four great cities,
marked by the mounds at Khorsabad, Mosul, Nimrud, and Kileh-Sherghat,
besides a multitude of places of inferior consequence. It has been
generally supposed that the left bank of the river was more properly
Assyria than the right; and the idea is so far correct, as that the left
bank was in truth of primary value and importance, whence it naturally
happened that three out of the four capitals were built on that side of
the stream. Still the very fact that one early capital was on the right
bank is enough to show that both shores of the stream were alike
occupied by the race from the first; and this conclusion is abundantly
confirmed by other indications throughout the region. Assyrian ruins,
the remains of considerable towns, strew the whole country between the
Tigris and Khabour, both north and south of the Sin jar range. On the
banks of the Lower Khabour are the remains of a royal palace, besides
many other traces of the tract through which it runs having been
permanently occupied by the Assyrian people. Mounds, probably Assyrian,
are known to exist along the course of the Khabour's great western
affluent; and even near Seruj, in the country between Harlan and the
Euphrates some evidence has been found not only of conquest but of
occupation. Remains are perhaps more frequent on the opposite side of
the Tigris; at any rate they are more striking and more important.
Bavian, Khorsabad, Shereef-Khan, Neb-bi-Yunus, Koyunjik, and Nimrud,
which have furnished by far the most valuable and interesting of the
Assyrian monuments, all lie east of the Tigris; while on the west two
places only have yielded relics worthy to be compared with these, Arban
and Kileh-Sherghat.

It is curious that in Assyria, as in early Chaldaea, there is a special
pre-eminence of four cities. An indication of this might seem to be
contained in Genesis, where Asshur is said to have "builded Nineveh," and
the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen; but on the whole it is more
probable that we have here a mistranslation (which is corrected for us
in the margin), and that three cities only are ascribed by Moses to the
great patriarch. In the flourishing period of the empire, however, we
actually find four capitals, of which the native names seem to have been
Ninua, Calah, Asshur, and Bit-Sargina, or Dur-Sargina (the city of
Sargon)--all places of first-rate consequence. Besides these principal
cities, which were the sole seats of government, Assyria contained a
vast number of large towns, few of which it is possible to name, but so
numerous that they cover the whole face of the country with their ruins.
Amomig; them were Tarbisa, Arbil, Arapkha, and Khazeh, in the tract
between the Tigris and Mount Zagros; Haran, Tel-Apni, Razappa (Rezeph),
and Amida, towards the north-west frontier; Nazibina (Nisibis), on the
eastern branch of the Khabour; Sirki (Circesium), at the confluence of
the Khabour with the Euphrates; Anat, on the Euphrates, some way below
this junction; Tabiti, Magarisi, Sidikan, Katni, Beth-Khalupi,etc., in
the district south of the Sinjar, between the lower course of the
Khabour and the Tigris. Here, again, as in the case of Chaldaea, it is
impossible at present to locate with accuracy all the cities. We must
once more confine ourselves to the most important, mind seek to
determine, either absolutely or with a certain vagueness, their several

It admits of no reasonable doubt that the ruins opposite Mosul are those
of Nineveh. The name of Nineveh is read on the bricks; and a uniform
tradition, reaching from the Arab conquest to comparatively recent
times, attaches to the mounds themselves the same title. They are the
most extensive ruins in Assyria; and their geographical position suits
perfectly all the notices of the geographers and historians with respect
to the great Assyrian capital. As a subsequent chapter will be devoted
to a description of this famous city, it is enough in this place to
observe that it was situated on the left or east bank of the Tigris, in
lat. 36° 21', at the point where a considerable brook, the Khosr-su,
falls into the main stream. On its west flank flowed the broad and rapid
Tigris, the "arrow-stream," as we may translate the word; while north,
east, and south, expanded the vast undulating plain which intervenes
between the river and the Zagros mountain-range. Mid-way in this
plain, at the distance of from 15 to 18 miles from the city, stood
boldly up the Jabel Maklub and Ain Sufra hills, calcareous ridges rising
nearly 2000 feet above the level of the Tigris, and forming by far the
most prominent objects in the natural landscape. Inside the Ain Sufra,
and parallel to it, ran the small stream of the Gomel, or Ghazir, like a
ditch skirting a wall, an additional defence in that quarter. On the
south-east and south, distant about fifteen miles, was the strong and
impetuous current of the Upper Zab, completing the natural defences of
the position which was excellently chosen to be the site of a great

[Illustration: PLATE 24]

South of Nineveh, at the distance of about twenty miles by the direct
route and thirty by the course of the Tigris, stood the second city of
the empire, Calah, the site of which is marked by the extensive ruins at
Nimrud. [PLATE XXIV., Fig. 1.] Broadly, this place may be said to have
been built at the confluence of the Tigris with the Upper Zab; but in
strictness it was on the Tigris only, the Zab flowing five or six miles
further to the south, and entering the Tigris at least nine miles below
the Nimrud ruins. These ruins at present occupy an area somewhat short
of a thousand English acres, which is little more than one-half of the
area of the ruins of Nineveh; but it is thought that the place was in
ancient times considerably larger, and that the united action of the
Tigris and some winter streams has swept away no small portion of the
ruins. They form at present an irregular quadrangle, the sides of which
face the four cardinal points. On the north and east the rampart may
still be distinctly traced. It was flanked with towers along its whole
course, and pierced at uncertain intervals by gates, but was nowhere of
very great strength or dimensions. On the south side it must have been
especially weak, for there it has disappeared altogether. Here, however,
it seems probable that the Tigris and the Shor Derreh stream, to which
the present obliteration of the wall may be ascribed, formed in ancient
times a sufficient protection. Towards the west, it seems to be certain
that the Tigris (which is now a mile off) anciently flowed close to the
city. On this side, directly facing the river, and extending along it a
distance of 600 yards, or more than a third of a mile, was the royal
quarter, or portion of the city occupied by the palaces of the kings. It
consisted of a raised platform, forty feet above the level of the plain,
composed in some parts of rubbish, in others of regular layers of
sun-dried bricks, and cased on every side with solid stone masonry,
containing an area of sixty English acres, and in shape almost a regular
rectangle, 560 yards long, and from 350 to 450 broad. The platform was
protected at its edges by a parapet, and is thought to have been
ascended in various places by wide staircases, or inclined ways, leading
up from the plain. The greater part of its area is occupied by the
remains of palaces constructed by various native kings, of which a more
particular account will be given in the chapter on the architecture and
other arts of the Assyrians. It contains also the ruins of two small
temples, and abuts at its north-western angle on the most singular
structure which has as yet been discovered among the remains of the
Assyrian cities. This is the famous tower or pyramid which looms so
conspicuously over the Assyrian plams, and which has always attracted
the special notice of the traveller. [PLATE XXIV., Fig. 2.] An exact
description of this remarkable edifice will be given hereafter.

It appears from the inscriptions on its bricks to have been commenced by
one of the early kings, and completed by another. Its internal structure
has led to the supposition that it was designed to be a place of burial
for one or other of these monarchs. Another conjecture is, that it was a
watch-tower; but this seems very unlikely, since no trace of any mode
by which it could be ascended has been discovered.

Forty miles below Calah, on the opposite bank of the Tigris, was a third
great city, the native name of which appears to have been Asshur. This
place is represented by the ruins at Kileh-Sherghat, which are scarcely
inferior in extent to those at Nimrud or Calah. It will not be necessary
to describe minutely this site, as in general character it closely
resembles the other ruins of Assyria. Long lines of low mounds mark the
position of the old walls, and show that the shape of the city was
quadrangular. The chief object is a large square mound or platform, two
miles and a half in circumference, and in places a hundred feet above
the level of the plain, composed in part of sun-dried bricks, in part
of natural eminences, and exhibiting occasionally remains of a casing of
hewn stone, which may once have encircled the whole structure. About
midway on the north side of the platform, and close upon its edge, is a
high cone or pyramid. The rest of the platform is covered with the
remains of walls and with heaps of rubbish, but does not show much trace
of important buildings. This city has been supposed to represent the
Biblical Resen; but the description of that place as lying "_between_
Nineveh and Calah" seems to render the identification worse than

The ruins at Kileh-Sherghat are the last of any extent towards the
south, possessing a decidedly Assyrian character. To complete our
survey, therefore of the chief Assyrian towns, we must return
northwards, and, passing Nineveh, direct our attention to the
magnificent ruins on the small stream of the Khosrsu, which have made
the Arab village of Khorsabad one of the best known names in Oriental
topography. About nine miles from the north-east angle of the wall of
Nineveh, in a direction a very little east of north, stands the ruin
known as Khorsabad, from a small village which formerly occupied its
summit--the scene of the labors of M. Botta, who was the first to
disentomb from among the mounds of Mesopotamia the relics of an Assyrian
palace. The enclosure at Khorsabad is nearly square in shape, each side
being about 2000 yards long. No part of it is very lofty, but the walls
are on every side well marked. Their angles point towards the cardinal
points, or nearly so; and the walls themselves consequently face the
north-east, the north-west, the south-west, and the south-east.
Towards the middle of the north-west wall, and projecting considerably
beyond it, was a raised platform of the usual character; and here stood
the great palace, which is thought to have been open to the plain, and
on that side quite undefended.

Four miles only from Khorsabad, in a direction a little west of north,
are the ruins of a smaller Assyrian city, whose native name appears to
have been Tarbisa, situated not far from the modern village of
Sherif-khan. Here was a palace, built by Esarhaddon for one of his
sons, as well as several temples and other edifices. In the opposite
direction at the distance of about twenty miles, is Keremles, an
Assyrian ruin, whose name cannot yet be rendered phonetically. West of
this site, and about half-way between the ruins of Nineveh and Nimrud
or Calah, is Selamiyah, a village of some size, the walls of which are
thought to be of Assyrian construction. We may conjecture that this
place was the Resen, or Dase, of Holy Scripture, which is said to have
been a large city, interposed between Nineveh and Calah. In the same
latitude, but considerably further to the east, was the famous city of
Arabil or Arbil, known to the Greeks as Arbela, and to this day
retaining its ancient appellation. These were the principal towns, whose
positions can be fixed, belonging to Assyria Proper, or the tract in the
immediate vicinity of Nineveh.

Besides these places, the inscriptions mention a large number of cities
which we cannot definitely connect with any particular site. Such are
Zaban and Zadu, beyond the Lower Zab, probably somewhere in the vicinity
of Kerkuk; Kurban, Tidu (?), Napulu, Kapa, in Adiabene; Arapkha and
Khaparkhu, the former of which names recalls the Arrapachitis of
Ptolemy, in the district about Arbela; Hurakha, Sallat (?), Dur-Tila,
Dariga, Lupdu, and many others, concerning whose situations it is not
even possible to make any reasonable conjecture. The whole country
between the Tigris and the mountains was evidently studded thickly with
towns, as it is at the present day with ruins; but until a minute and
searching examination of the entire region has taken place, it is idle
to attempt an assignment to particular localities of these comparatively
obscure names.

In Western Assyria, or the tract on the right bank of the Tigris, while
there is reason to believe that population was as dense, and that cities
were as numerous, as on the opposite side of the river, even fewer sites
can be determinately fixed, owing to the early decay of population in
those parts, which seem to have fallen into their present desert
condition shortly after the destruction of the Assyrian empire by the
conquering Medes. Besides Asshur, which is fixed to the ruins at
Kileh-Sherghat, we can only locate with certainty some half-dozen
places. These are Nazibina, which is the modern Nisibin, the Nisibis of
the Greeks; Amidi, which is Amida or Diarbekr; Haran, which retains its
name unchanged; Sirki, which is the Greek Circesium, now Kerkesiyeh;
Anat, now Anah, on an island in the Euphrates; and Sidikan, now Arban,
on the Lower Khabour. The other known towns of this region, whose exact
position is more or less uncertain, are the following:--Tavnusir, which
is perhaps Dunisir, near Mardin; Guzana, or Gozan, in the vicinity of
Nisibin; Razappa, or Rezeph, probably not far from Harran; Tel Apni,
about Orfah or Ras-el-Ain; Tabiti and Magarisi, on the Jerujer, or
river of Nisibin; Katni and Beth-Khalupi, on the Lower Khabour; Tsupri
and Nakarabani, on the Euphrates, between its junction with the Khabour
and Allah; and Khuzirina, in the mountains near the source of the
Tigris. Besides these, the inscriptions contain a mention of some scores
of towns wholly obscure, concerning which we cannot even determine
whether they lay west or east of the Tigris.

Such are the chief geographical features of Assyria. It remains to
notice briefly the countries by which it was bordered. To the east lay
the mountain region of Zagros, inhabited principally, during the earlier
times of the Empire, by the Zimri, and afterwards occupied by the Medes,
and known as a portion of Media. This region is one of great strength,
and at the same time of much productiveness and fertility. Composed of a
large number of parallel ridges. Zagros contains, besides rocky and
snow-clad summits, a multitude of fertile valleys, watered by the great
affluents of the Tigris or their tributaries, and capable of producing
rich crops with very little cultivation. The sides of the hills are in
most parts clothed with forests of walnut, oak, ash, plane, and
sycamore, while mulberries, olives, and other fruit-trees abound; in
many places the pasturage is excellent; and thus, notwithstanding its
mountainous character, the tract will bear a large population. Its
defensive strength is immense, equalling that of Switzerland before
military roads were constructed across the High Alps. The few passes by
which it can be traversed seem, according to the graphic phraseology of
the ancients, to be carried up ladders; they surmount six or seven
successive ridges, often reaching the elevation of 10,000 feet, and are
only open during seven months of the year. Nature appears to have
intended Zagros as a seven fold wall for the protection of the fertile
Mesopotamian lowland from the marauding tribes inhabiting the bare
plateau of Iran.

North of Assyria lays a country very similar to the Zagros region.
Armenia, like Kurdistan, consists, for the most part of a number of
parallel mountain ranges, with deep valleys between them, watered by
great rivers or their affluents. Its highest peaks, like those of
Zagros, ascend considerably above the snow-line. It has the same
abundance of wood, especially in the more northern parts; and though its
valleys are scarcely so fertile, or its products so abundant and varied,
it is still a country where a numerous population may find subsistence.
The most striking contrast which it offers to the Zagros region is in
the direction of its mountain ranges. The Zagros ridges run from
north-west to south-east, like the principal mountains of Italy,
Greece, Arabia, Hindustan, and Cochin China; those of Armenia have a
course from a little north of east to a little south of west, like the
Spanish Sierras, the Swiss and Tyrolese Alps, the Southern Carpathians,
the Greater Balkan, the Cilician Taurus, the Cyprian Olympus, and the
Thian Chan. Thus the axes of the two chains are nearly at right angles
to one another, the triangular basin of Van occurring at the point of
contact, and softening the abruptness of the transition. Again, whereas
the Zagros mountains present their gradual slope to the Mesopotamian
lowland, and rise in higher and higher ridges as they recede from the
mountains of Armenia ascend at once to their full heignt from the level
of the Tigris, and the ridges then gradually decline towards the Euxine.
It follows from this last contrast, that, while Zagros invites the
inhabitants of the Mesopotamian plain to penetrate its recesses, which
are at first readily accessible, and only grow wild and savage towards
the interior, the Armenian mountains repel by presenting their greatest
difficulties and most barren aspect at once, seeming, with their rocky
sides and snow-clad summits, to form an almost insurmountable obstacle
to an invading host. Assyrian history bears traces of this difference;
for while the mountain region to the east is gradually subdued and
occupied by the people of the plain, that on the north continues to the
last in a state of hostility and semi-independence.

West of Assyria (according to the extent which has here been given to
it), the border countries were, towards the south, Arabia, and towards
the north, Syria. A desert region, similar to that which bounds Chaldaea
in this direction, extends along the Euphrates as far north as the 36th
parallel, approaching commonly within a very short distance of the
river. This has been at all times the country of the wandering Arabs. It
is traversed in places by rocky ridges of a low elevation, and
intercepted by occasional _wadys_, but otherwise it is a continuous
gravelly or sandy plain, incapable of sustaining a settled population.
Between the desert and the river intervenes commonly a narrow strip of
fertile territory, which in Assyrian times was held by the Tsukhi or
Shuhites, and the Aramaeans or Syrians. North of the 36th parallel, the
general elevation of the country west of the Euphrates rises. There is
an alternation of bare undulating hills and dry plains, producing
wormwood and other aromatic plants. Permanent rivers are found, which
either terminate in salt lakes or run into the Euphrates. In places the
land is tolerably fertile, and produces good crops of grain, besides
mulberries, pears, figs, pomegranates, olives, vines, and
pistachio-nuts. Here dwelt, in the time of the Assyrian Empire, the
Khatti, or Hittites, whose chief city, Carchemish, appears to have
occupied the site of Hierapolis, now Bambuk. In a military point of
view, the tract is very much less strong than either Armenia or
Kurdistan, and presents but slight difficulties to invading armies.

The tract south of Assyria was Chaldaea, of which a description has been
given in an earlier portion of this volume. Naturally it was at once the
weakest of the border countries, and the one possessing the greatest
attractions to a conqueror. Nature had indeed left it wholly without
defence; and though art was probably soon called in to remedy this
defect, yet it could not but continue the most open to attack of the
various regions by which Assyria was surrounded. Syria was defended by
the Euphrates--at all times a strong barrier; Arabia, not only by this
great stream, but by her arid sands and burning climate; Armenia and
Kurdistan had the protection of their lofty mountain ranges. Chaldaea
was naturally without either land or water barrier; and the mounds and
dykes whereby she strove to supply her wants were at the best poor
substitutes for Nature's bulwarks. Here again geographical features will
be found to have had an important bearing on the course of history, the
close connection of the two countries, in almost every age, resulting
from their physical conformation.



"Assyria, celebritate et magnitudine, et multiformi feracitate
ditissima."--AMM. MARC. xxiii

In describing the climate and productions of Assyria, it will be
necessary to divide it into regions, since the country is so large, and
the physical geography so varied, that a single description would
necessarily be both incomplete and untrue. Eastern Assyria has a climate
of its own, the result of its position at the foot of Zagros. In Western
Assyria we may distinguish three climates, that of the upper or
mountainous country extending from Bir to Til and Jezireh, that of the
middle region on either side of the Sinjar range, and that of the lower
region immediately bordering on Babylonia. The climatic differences
depend in part on latitude; but probably in a greater degree on
differences of elevation, distance or vicinity of mountains, and the

Eastern Assyria, from its vicinity to the high and snow-clad range of
Zagros, has a climate at once cooler and moister than Assyria west of
the Tigris. The summer heats are tempered by breezes from the adjacent
mountains, and, though trying to the constitution of an European, are
far less oppressive than the torrid blasts which prevail on the other
side of the river. A good deal of rain falls in the winter, and even in
the spring; while, after the rains are past, there is frequently an
abundant dew, which supports vegetation and helps to give coolness to
the air. The winters are moderately severe.

In the most southern part of Assyria, from lat. 34° to 35° 30', the
climate scarcely differs from that of Babylonia, which has been already
described. The same burning summers, and the same chilly but not really
cold winters, prevail in both districts; and the time and character of
the rainy season is alike in each. The summers are perhaps a little less
hot, and the winters a little colder than in the more southern and
alluvial region; but the difference is inconsiderable, and has never
been accurately measured.

In the central part of Western Assyria, on either side of the Sinjar
range, the climate is decidedly cooler than in the region adjoining
Babylonia. In summer, though the heat is great, especially from noon to
sunset, yet the nights are rarely oppressive, and the mornings
enjoyable. The spring-time in this region is absolutely delicious; the
autumn is pleasant; and the winter, though cold and accompanied by a
good deal of rain and snow, is rarely prolonged and never intensely
rigorous. Storms of thunder and lightning are frequent, especially in
spring, and they are often of extraordinary violence: hail-stones fall
of the size of pigeon's eggs; the lightning is incessant; and the wind
rages with fury. The force of the tempest is, however, soon exhausted;
in a few hours' time it has passed away, and the sky is once more
cloudless: a delightful calm and freshness pervade the air, producing
mingled sensations of pleasure and repose.

The mountain tract, which terminates Western Assyria to the north, has a
climate very much more rigorous than the central region. The elevation
of this district is considerable, and the near vicinity of the great
mountain country of Armenia, with its eternal snows and winters during
half the year, tends greatly to lower the temperature, which in the
winter descends to eight or ten degrees below zero. Much snow then
falls, which usually lies for some weeks; the spring is wet and stormy,
but the summer and the autumn are fine; and in the western portion of
the region about Harran and Orfah, the summer heat is great. The climate
is here an "extreme" one, to use on expression of Humboldt's--the range
of the thermometer being even greater than it is in Chaldaea, reaching
nearly (or perhaps occasionally exceeding) 120 degrees.

Such is the present climate of Assyria, west and east of the Tigris.
There is no reason to believe that it was very different in ancient
times. If irrigation was then more common and cultivation more widely
extended, the temperature would no doubt have been somewhat lower and
the air more moist. But neither on physical nor on historical grounds
Can it be argued that the difference thus produced was; more than
slight. The chief causes of the remarkable heat of Mesopotamnia--so
much exceeding that of many countries under the same parallels of
latitude--are its near vicinity to the Arabian and Syrian deserts, and
its want of trees, those great refrigerators. While the first of these
causes would be wholly untouched by cultivation, the second would be
affected in but a small degree. The only tree which is known to have
been anciently cultivated in Mesopotamia is the date-palm; and as this
ceases to bear fruit about lat. 35°, its greater cultivation could have
prevailed only in a very small portion of the country, and so would have
affected the general climate but little. Historically, too, we find,
among the earliest notices which have any climatic bearing, indications
that the temperature and the consequent condition of the country were
anciently very nearly what they now are. Xenophon speaks of the
barrenness of the tract between the Khabour and Babylonia, and the
entire absence of forage, in as strong terms as could be used at the
present day. Arrian, following his excellent authorities, notes that
Alexander, after crossing the Euphrates, kept close to the hills,
"because the heat there was not so scorching as it was lower down," and
because he could then procure green food for his horses. The animals too
which Xenophon found in the country are either such as now inhabit it,
or where not such, they are the denizens of hotter rather than colder
climates and countries.

The fertility of Assyria is a favorite theme with the ancient writers.
Owing to the indefiniteness of their geographical terminology, it is
however uncertain, in many cases, whether the praise which they bestow
upon Assyria is really intended for the country here called by that
name, or whether it does not rather apply to the alluvial tract, already
described, which is more properly termed Chaldaea or Babylonia.
Naturally Babylonia is very much more fertile than the greater part of
Assyria, which being elevated above the courses of the rivers, and
possessing a saline and gypsiferous soil, tends, in the absence of a
sufficient water supply, to become a bare and arid desert. Trees are
scanty in both regions except along the river courses; but in Assyria,
even grass fails after the first burst of spring; and the plains, which
for a few weeks have been carpeted with the tenderest verdure and
thickly strewn with the brightest and loveliest flowers, become, as the
summer advances, yellow, parched, and almost herbless. Few things are
more remarkable than the striking difference between the appearance of
the same tract in Assyria at different seasons of the year. What at one
time is a garden, glowing with brilliant hues and heavy with luxuriant
pasture, on which the most numerous flocks can scarcely make any
sensible impression, at another is an absolute waste, frightful and
oppressive from its sterilityr.

If we seek the cause of this curious contrast, we shall find it in the
productive qualities of the soil, wherever there is sufficient moisture
to allow of their displaying themselves, combined with the fact, already
noticed, that the actual supply of water is deficient. Speaking
generally, we may say with truth, as was said by Herodotus more than two
thousand years ago--that "but little rain falls in Assyria," and, if
water is to be supplied in adequate quantity to the thirsty soil, it
must be derived from the rivers. In most parts of Assyria there are
occasional rains during the winter, and, in ordinary years, frequent
showers in early spring. The dependence of the present inhabitants both
for pasture and for grain is on these. There is scarcely any irrigation;
and though the soil is so productive that wherever the land is
cultivated, good crops are commonly obtained by means of the spring
rains, while elsewhere nature at once spontaneously robes herself in
verdure of the richest kind, yet no sooner does summer arrive than
barrenness is spread over the scene; the crops ripen and are gathered
in; "the grass withereth, the flower fadeth;" the delicate herbage of
the plains shrinks back and disappears; all around turns to a uniform
dull straw-color; nothing continues to live but what is coarse, dry,
and sapless; and so the land, which was lately an Eden, becomes a

Far different would be the aspect of the region were a due use made of
that abundant water supply--actually most lavish in the summer time,
owing to the melting of the snows which nature has provided in the two
great Mesopotamian rivers and their tributaries. So rapid is the fall of
the two main streams in their upper course, that by channels derived
from them, with the help perhaps of dams thrown across them at certain
intervals, the water might be led to almost any part of the intervening
country, and a supply kept up during the whole year. Or, even without
works of this magnitude, by hydraulic machines of a very simple
construction, the life-giving fluid might be raised from the great
streams and their affluents in sufficient quantity to maintain a broad
belt on either side of the river-courses in perpetual verdure.
Anciently, we know that recourse was had to both of these systems. In
the tract between the Tigris and the Upper Zab, which is the only part
of Assyria that has been minutely examined, are distinct remains of at
least one Assyrian canal, wherein much ingenuity and hydraulic skill is
exhibited, the work being carried through the more elevated ground by
tunnelling, and the canal led for eight miles contrary to the natural
course of every stream in the district. Sluices and dams, cut sometimes
in the solid rock, regulated the supply of the fluid at different
seasons, and enabled the natives to make the most economical application
of the great fertilizer. The use of the hand-swipe was also certainly
known, since it is mentioned by Herodotus, and even represented upon the
sculptures. [PLATE XXV., Fig. 1.] Very probably other more elaborate
machines were likewise employed, unless the general prevalency of canals
superseded their necessity. It is certain that over wide districts, now
dependent for productive power wholly on the spring rains, and
consequently quite incapable of sustaining a settled population, there
must have been maintained in Assyrian times some effective
water-system, whereby regions that at present with difficulty furnish a
few months' subsistence to the wandering Arab tribes, were enabled to
supply to scores of populous cities sufficient food for their

[Illustration: PLATE 25]

We have not much account of the products of Assyria Proper in early
times. Its dates were of small repute, being greatly inferior to those
of Babylon. It grew a few olives in places, and some spicy shrubs, which
cannot be identified with any certainty. Its cereal crops were good, and
may perhaps be regarded as included in the commendations bestowed by
Herodotus and Strabo on the grain of the Mesopotamian region. The
country was particularly deficient in trees, large tracts growing
nothing but wormwood and similar low shrubs, while others were
absolutely without either tree or bush. The only products of Assyria
which acquired such note as to be called by its name were its silk and
its citron trees. The silk, according to Pliny, was the produce of a
large kind of silkworm not found elsewhere. The citron trees obtained a
very great celebrity. Not only were they admired for their perpetual
fruitage, and their delicious odor; but it was believed that the fruit
which they bore was an unfailing remedy against poisons. Numerous
attempts were made to naturalize the tree in other countries; but up to
the time when Pliny wrote, every such attempt had failed, and the citron
was still confined to Assyria, Persia and Media.

It is not to be imagined that the vegetable products of Assyria were
confined within the narrow compass which the ancient notices might seem
to indicate. Those notices are casual, and it is evident that they are
incomplete: nor will a just notion be obtained of the real character of
the region, unless we take into account such of the present products as
may be reasonably supposed to be indigenous. Now setting aside a few
plants of special importance to man, the cultivation of which may have
been introduced, such as tobacco, rice, Indian corn, and cotton, we may
fairly say that Assyria has no exotics, and that the trees, shrubs, and
vegetables now found within her limits are the same in all probability
as grew there anciently. In order to complete our survey, we may
therefore proceed to inquire what are the chief vegetable products of
the region at the present time.

In the south the date-palm grows well as far as Anah on the Euphrates
and Tekrit on the Tigris. Above that latitude it languishes, and ceases
to give fruit altogether about the junction of the Khabour with the one
stream and the Lesser Zab with the other. The unproductive tree,
however, which the Assyrians used for building purposes, will grow and
attain a considerable size to the very edge of the mountains. Of other
timber trees the principal are the sycamore and the Oriental plane,
which are common in the north the oak, which abounds about Mardin (where
it yields gall-nuts and the rare product manna), and which is also
found in the Sinjar and Abd-el-Aziz ranges; the silver poplar, which
often fringes the banks of the streams; the sumac, which is found on the
Upper Euphrates; and the walnut, which grows in the Jebel Tur, and is
not uncommon between the foot of Zagros and the outlying ranges of
hills. Of fruit-trees the most important are the orange, lemon,
pomegranate, apricot, olive, vine, fig, mulberry, and pistachio-nut.
The pistachio-nut grows wild in the northern mountains, especially
between Orfah and Diarbekr. The fig is cultivated with much care in the
Sinjar. The vine is also grown in that region, but bears better on the
skirts of the hills above Orfah and Mardin. Pomegranates flourish in
various parts of the country. Oranges and lemons belong to its more
southern parts, where it verges on Babylonia. The olive clothes the
flanks of Zagros in places. Besides these rarer fruits, Assyria has
chestnuts, pears, apples, plums, cherries, wild and cultivated, qinces,
apricots, melons and filberts.

The commonest shrubs are a kind of wormwood--the _apsinthium_ of
Xenophon--which grows over much of the plain extending south of the
Khabour--and the tamarisk. Green myrtles, and oleanders with their rosy
blossoms, clothe the banks of some of the smaller streams between the
Tigris and Mount Zagros; and a shrub of frequent occurrence is the
liquorice plant. Of edible vegetables there is great abundance. Truffles
and capers grow wild; while peas, beans, onions, spinach, cucumbers, and
lentils are cultivated successfully. The carob (_Ceratonia Siliqua_)
must also be mentioned as among the rarer products of this region.

It was noticed above that manna is gathered in Assyria from the dwarf
oak. It is abundant in Zagros, and is found also in the woods about
Mardin, and again between Orfah and Diarbekr. According to Mr. Rich, it
is not confined to the dwarf oak, or even to trees and shrubs, but is
deposited also on sand, rocks, and stone. It is most plentiful in wet
seasons, and especially after fogs; in dry seasons it fails almost
totally. The natives collect it in spring and autumn. The best and
purest is that taken from the ground; but by far the greater quantity is
obtained from the trees, by placing cloths under them and shaking the
branches. The natives use it as food both in its natural state and
manufactured into a kind of paste. It soon corrupts; and in order to fit
it for exportation, or even for the storeroom of the native housewife,
it has to undergo the process of boiling. When thus prepared, it is a
gentle purgative; but, in its natural state and when fresh, it may be
eaten in large quantities without any unpleasant consequences.

Assyria is far better supplied with minerals than Babylonia. Stone of a
good quality, either limestone, sandstone, or conglomerate, is always at
hand; while a tolerable clay is also to be found in most plices. If a
more durable material is required, basaltic rock may be obtained from
the Mons Masius--a substance almost as hard as granite. On the left
bank of the Tigris a soft gray alabaster abounds which is easily cut
into slabs, and forms an excellent material for the sculptor. The
neighboring mountains of Kurdistan contain marbles of many different
qualities; and these could be procured without much difficulty by means
of the rivers. From the same quarter it was easy to obtain the most
useful metals. Iron, copper, and lead are found in great abundance in
the Tiyari Mountains within a short distance of Nineveh, where they crop
out upon the surface, so that they cannot fail to be noticed. Lead and
copper are also obtainable from the neighborhood of Diarbekr. The
Kurdish Mountains may have supplied other metals. They still produce
silver and antimony; and it is possible that they may anciently have
furnished gold and tin. As their mineral riches have never been explored
by scientific persons, it is very probable that they may contain many
other metals besides those which they are at present known to yield.

Among the mineral products of Assyria, bitumen, naphtha, petroleum,
sulphur, alum, and salt have also to be reckoned. The bitumen pits of
Kerkuk, in the country between the Lesser Zab and the Adhem, are
scarcely less celebrated than those of Hit; and there are some abundant
springs of the same character close to Nimrud, in the bed of the Shor
Derrell torrent. The Assyrian palaces furnish sufficient evidence that
the springs were productive in old times; for the employment of bitumen
as a cement, though not so frequent as in Babylonia, is yet occasionally
found in them. With the bitumen are always procured both naphtha and
petroleum; while at Kerkuk there is an abundance of sulphur also. Salt
is obtained from springs in the Kerkuk country; and is also formed in
certain small lakes lying between the Sinjar and Babylonia. Alum is
plentiful in the hills about Kifri.

The most remarkable wild animals of Assyria are the following: the lion,
the leopard, the lynx, the wild-cat, the hyaena, the wild ass, the
bear, the deer, the gazelle, the ibex, the wild sheep, the wild boar,
the jackal, the wolf, the fox, the beaver, the jerboa, the porcupine,
the badger, and the hare. The Assyrian lion is of the maneless kind, and
in general habits resembles the lion of Babylonia. The animal is
comparatively rare in the eastern districts, being seldom found on the
banks of the Tigris above Baghdad, and never above Kileh-Sherghat. On
the Euphrates it has been seen as high as Bir; and it is frequent on the
banks of the Khabour, and in the Sinjar. It has occasionally that
remarkable peculiarity--so commonly represented on the sculptures--a
short horny claw at the extremity of the tail in the middle of the
ordinary tuft of hair. The ibex or wild goat--also a favorite subject
with the Assyrian sculptors--is frequent in Kurdistan, and moreover
abounds on the highest ridges of the Abd-el-Aziz and the Sinjar, where
it is approached with difficulty by the hunter. The gazelle, wild boar,
wolf, jackal, fox, badger, porcupine, and hare are common in the plains,
and confined to no particular locality. The jerboa is abundant near the
Khabour. Beau's and deer are found on the skirts of the Kurdish hills.
The leopard, hyaena, lynx, and beaver are comparatively rare. The last
named animal, very uncommon in Southern Asia, was at one time found in
large numbers on the Khabour; but in consequence of the value set upon
its musk bag, it has been hunted almost to extermination, and is now
very seldom seen. The Khabour beavers are said to be a different species
from the American. Their tail is not large and broad, but sharp and
pointed; nor do they build houses, or construct dams across the stream,
but live in the banks, making themselves large chambers above the
ordinary level of the floods, which are entered by holes beneath the

The rarest of all the animals which are still found in Assyria is the
wild ass (_Equus hemionous_). Till the present generation of travellers,
it was believed to have disappeared altogether from the region, and to
have "retired into the steppes of Mongolia and the deserts of Persia.
But a better acquaintance with the country between the rivers has shown
that wild asses, though uncommon, still inhabit the tract where, they
were seen by Xenophon." [PLATE XXVI., Fig. 1.] They are delicately made,
in color varying from a grayish-white in winter to a bright bay,
approaching to pink, in the summer-time; they are said to be remarkably
swift. It is impossible to take them when full grown; but the Arabs
often capture the foals, and bring them up with milk in their tents.
They then become very playful and docile; but it is found difficult to
keep them alive; and they have never, apparently, been domesticated. The
Arabs usually kill them and eat their flesh.

[Illustration: PLATE 26]

It is probable that all these animals, and some others, inhabited
Assyria during the time of the Empire. Lions of two kinds, with and
without manes, abound in the sculptures, the former, which do not now
exist in Assyria, being the more common. [PLATE XXV., Fig. 2.] They are
represented with a skill and a truth which shows the Assyrian sculptor
to have been familiar not only with their forms and proportions, but
with their natural mode of life, their haunts, and habits. The leopard
is far less often depicted, but appears sometimes in the ornamentation
of utensils, and is frequently mentioned in the inscriptions. The wild
ass is a favorite subject with the sculptors of the late Empire, and is
represented with great spirit, though not with complete accuracy. [PLATE
XXVI., Fig. 1.] The ears are too short, the head is too fine, the legs
are not fine enough, and the form altogether approaches too nearly to
the type of the horse. The deer, the gazelle, and the ibex all occur
frequently; and though the forms are to some extent conventional, they
are not wanting in spirit. [PLATE XXVII.] Deer are apparently of two
kinds. That which is most commonly found appears to represent the gray
deer, which is the only species existing at present within the confines
of Assyria. The other sort is more delicate in shape, and spotted,
seeming to represent the fallow deer, which is not now known in Syria or
the adjacent countries. It sometimes appears wild, lying among the
reeds; sometimes tame, in the arms of a priest or of a winged figure.
There is no representation in the sculptures of the wild boar; but a
wild sow and pigs are given in one bas-relief, sufficiently indicating
the Assyrian acquaintance with this animal. Hares are often depicted,
and with much truth; generally they are carried in the hands of men, but
sometimes they are being devoured by vultures or eagles. [PLATE XXVIII
Figs. 1, 2.] No representations have been found of bears, wild cats,
hyaenas, wolves, jackals, wild sheep, foxes, beavers, jerbdas,
porcupines, or badgers.

[Illustration: PLATE 27]

There is reason to believe that two other animals, which have now
altogether disappeared from the country, inhabited at least some parts
of Assyria during its flourishing period. One of these is the wild
bull-often represented on the bas-reliefs as a beast of chase, and
perhaps mentioned as such in the inscriptions. This animal, which is
sometimes depicted as en-gaged in a contest with the lion, must have
been of vast strength and boldness. It is often hunted by the king, and
appears to have been considered nearly as noble an object of pursuit as
the lion. We may presume, from the practice in the adjoining country,
Palestine, 96 that the flesh was eaten as food.

[Illustration: PLATE 28]

The other animal, once indigenous, but which has now disappeared, was
called by the Assyrians the _mithin,_ and is thought to have been the
tiger. Tigers are not now found nearer to Assyria than the country south
of the Caspian, Ghilan, and Mazanderan; but as there is no conceivable
reason why they should not inhabit Mesopotamia, and as the _mithin_ is
constantly joined with the lion, as if it were a beast of the same kind,
and of nearly equal strength and courage, we may fairly conjecture that
the tiger is the animal intended. If this seem too bold a theory, we
must regard the _mithin_ as the larger leopard, an animal of
considerable strength and ferocity, which, as well as the hunting
leopard, is still found in the country. [PLATE XXVI., Fig. 2.]

The birds at present frequenting Assyria are chiefly the following: the
bustard (which is of two kinds--the great and the middle-sized), the
egret, the crane, the stork, the pelican, the flamingo, the red
partridge, the black partridge or francolin, the parrot, the Seleucian
thrush (_Turdus Seleucus_), the vulture, the falcon or hunting hawk, the
owl, the wild swan, the bramin goose, the ordinary wild goose, the wild
duck, the teal, the tern, the sand-grouse, the turtle dove, the
nightingale, the jay, the plover, and the snipe. There is also a large
kite or eagle, called "agab," or "the butcher," by the Arabs, which is
greatly dreaded by fowlers, as it will attack and kill the falcon no
less than other birds.

We have little information as to which of these birds frequented the
country in ancient times. The Assyrian artists are not happy in their
delineation of the feathered tribe; and though several forms of birds
are represented upon the sculptures of Sargon and elsewhere, there are
but three which any writer has ventured to identify--the vulture, the
ostrich, and the partridge. The vulture is commonly represented flying
in the air, in attendance upon the march and the battle--sometimes
devouring, as he flies, the entrails of one of Assyria's enemies.
Occasionally he appears upon the battle-field, perched upon the bodies
of the slain, and pecking at their eyes or their vitals. [PLATE XXVIII.,
Fig. 4.] The ostrich, which we know from Xenophon to have been a former
inhabitant of the country on the left bank of the Euphrates, but which
has now retreated into the wilds of Arabia, occurs frequently upon
cylinders, dresses, and utensils; sometimes stalking along apparently
unconcerned; sometimes hastening at full speed, as if pursued by the
hunter, and, agreeably to the description of Xenophon, using its wing
for a sail. [PLATE XXIX., Figs. 1, 2.] The partridge is still more
common than either of these. He is evidently sought as food. We find him
carried in the hand of sportsmen returning from the chase, or see him
flying above their heads as they beat the coverts, or finally observe
him pierced by a successful shot, and in the act of falling a prey to
his pursuers.  [PLATE XXIX., Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: PLATE 29]

The other birds represented upon the sculptures, though occasionally
possessing some marked peculiarities of form or habit, have not yet been
identified with any known species. [PLATE XXIX., Fig. 2.] They are
commonly represented as haunting the fir-woods, and often as perched
upon the trees. One appears, in a sculpture of Sargon's. in the act of
climbing the stein of a tree, like the nut-hatch or the woodpecker.
Another has a tail like a pheasant, but in other respects cannot be said
to resemble that bird. The artist does not appear to aim at truth in
these delineations, and it probably would be a waste of ingenuity to
conjecture which species of bird he intended.

We have no direct evidence that bustards inhabited Mesopotamia in
Assyrian times; but as they have certainly been abundant in that region
front the time of Xenophon to our own, there can be little doubt that
they existed in some parts of Assyria during the Empire. Considering
their size, their peculiar appearance, and the delicacy of their flesh,
it is remarkable that the Assyrian remains furnish no trace of them.
Perhaps, as they are extremely shy, they may have been comparatively
rare in the country when the population was numerous, and when the
greater portion of the tract between the rivers was brought under

The fish most plentiful in Assyria are the same as in Babylonia, namely,
barbel and carp. They abound not only in the Tigris and Euphrates, but
also in the lake of Khutaniyeh, and often grow to a great size. Trout
are found in the streams which run down from Zagros; and there may be
many other sorts which have not yet been observed. The sculptures
represent all the waters, whether river, pond, or marsh, as full of
fish; but the forms are for the most part too conventional to admit of
identification. [PLATE XXIX., Fig. 3.]

The domestic animals now found in Assyria are camels, horses, asses,
mules, sheep, goats, oxen, cows, and dogs. The camels are of three
colors--white, yellow, and dark brown or black. They are probably all
of the same species, though commonly distinguished into camels proper,
and _delouls_ or dromedaries, the latter differing from the others as
the English race-horse from the cart-horse. The Bactrian or
two-humped camel, though known to the ancient Assyrians, is not now
found in the country. [PLATE XXX., Fig. 1.] The horses are numerous, and
of the best Arab blood. Small in stature, but of exquisite symmetry and
wonderful powers of endurance, they are highly prized throughout the
East, and constitute the chief wealth of the wandering tribes who occupy
the greater portion of Mesopotamia. The sheep and goats are also of good
breeds, and produce wool of an excellent quality.  [PLATE XXX., Fig. 2.]
The cows and oxen cannot be commended. The dogs kept are chiefly
greyhounds, which are used to course the hare and the gazelle.

[Illustration: PLATE 30]

It is probable that in ancient times the animals domesticated by the
Assyrians were not very different from these. The camel appears upon the
monuments both as a beast of burden and also as ridden in war, but only
by the enemies of the Assyrians. [PLATE XXX., Fig. 3.] The horse is used
both for draught and for riding, but seems never degraded to ignoble
purposes. His breed is good, though he is not so finely or delicately
made as the modern Arab. The head is small and well shaped, the nostrils
large and high, the neck arched, but somewhat thick, the body compact,
the loins strong, the legs moderately slender and sinewy. [PLATE XXX.,
Fig. 4.] [PLATE XXXI., Fig. 1.] The ass is not found; but the mule
appears, sometimes ridden by women, sometimes used as a beast of burden,
sometimes employed in drawing a cart. [PLATE XXXI., Fig. 2] [PLATE
XXXII., Figs. 1, 2.] Cows, oxen, sheep, and goats are frequent; but they
are foreign rather tham Assyrian, since they occur only among the spoil
taken from conquered countries. The dog is frequent on the later
sculptures; and has been found modelled in clay, and also represented in
relief on a clay tablet. [PLATE XXXII., Fig. 3.] [PLATE XXXIII., Fig.
1.] Their character is that of a large mastiff or hound, and there is
abundant evidence that they were employed in hunting.

[Illustration: PLATE 31]

[Illustration: PLATE 32]

If the Assyrians domesticated any bird, it would seem to have been the
duck. Models of the duck are common, and seem generally to have been
used for weights. [PLATE XXXIII., Fig. 2.] The bird is ordinarily
represented with its head turned upon its back, the attitude of the
domestic duck when asleep. The Assyrians seem to have had artificial
ponds or stews, which are always represented as full of fish, but the
forms are conventional, as has been already observed. Considering the
size to which the carp and barbel actually grow at the present day, the
ancient representations are smaller than might have been expected.

[Illustration: PLATE 33]



"The Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, fair of branches, and with a
shadowing shroud, and of high stature; and his top was among the thick
boughs. . . . Nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto him in his
beauty."--EZEK. xxxi. 3 and 8.

The ethnic character of the ancient Assyrians, like that of the
Chaldaeans, was in former times a matter of controversy. When nothing
was known of the original language of the people beyond the names of
certain kings, princes, and generals, believed to have belonged to the
race, it was difficult to arrive at any determinate conclusion on the
subject. The ingenuity of etymologists displayed itself in suggesting
derivations for the words in question, which were sometimes absurd,
sometimes plausible, but never more than very doubtful conjectures. No
sound historical critic could be content to base a positive view on any
such unstable foundation, and nothing remained but to decide the
controversy on other than linguistic considerations.

Various grounds existed on which it was felt that a conclusion could be
drawn. The Scriptural genealogies connected Asshur with Aran, Pier, and
Joktan, the allowed progenitors of the Armaeians or Syrians, the
Israelites or Hebrews, and the northern or Joktanian Arabs. The
languages, physical type, and moral characteristics of these races were
well known: they all belonged evidently to a single family the family
known to ethnologists as the Semitic. Again, the manners and customs,
especially the religious customs, of the Assyrians connected then
plainly with the Syrians and Phoenicians, with whose practices they were
closely allied. Further it was observed that the modern Chaldaeans of
Kurdistan, who regard themselves as descendants of the ancient
inhabitants of the neighboring Assyria, still speak a Semitic dialect.
These three distinct and convergent lines of testimony were sufficient
to justify historians in the conclusion, which they commonly drew, that
the ancient Assyrians belonged to the Semitic family, and were more or
less closely connected with the Syrians, the (later) Babylonians, the
Phoenicians, the Israelites, and the Arabs of the northern portion of
the peninsula.

Recent linguistic discoveries have entirely confirmed the conclusion
thus, arrived at. We now possess in the engraved slabs, the clay
tablets, the cylinders, and the bricks, exhumed from the ruins of the
great Assyrian cities, copious documentary evidence of the character of
the Assyrian language, and (so far as language is a proof) of the ethnic
character of the race. It appears to be doubted by none who have
examined the evidence, that the language of these records is Semitic.
However imperfect the acquaintance which our best Oriental
archaeologists have as yet obtained with this ancient and difficult form
of speech, its connection with the Syriac, the later Babylonian, the
Hebrew, and the Arabic does not seem to admit of a doubt.

Another curious confirmation of the ordinary belief is to be found in
the physical characteristics of the people, as revealed to us by the
sculptures. Few persons in any way familiar with these works of art can
have failed to remark the striking resemblance to the Jewish physiognomy
which is presented by the sculptured effigies of the Assyrians. The
forehead straight but not high, the full brow, the eye large and
almond-shaped, the aquiline nose, a little coarse at the end, and unduly
depressed, the strong, firm mouth, with lips somewhat over thick, the
well-formed chin--best seen in the representation of eunuchs--the
abundant hair and ample beard, both colored as black--all these recall
the chief peculiarities of the Jew more especially as he appears in
southern countries. [PLATE XXXIII., Fig. 3.] They are less like the
traits of the Arab, though to them also they bear a considerable
resemblance. Chateaubriand's description of the Bedouin--"_la tete
ovale, le front haut et argue, le nez aquilia, les yeux grandes et coupe
en amandes, le regard humide et singulierement doux_" would serve in
many respects equally well for a description of the physiognomy of the
Assyrians, as they appear upon the monuments. The traits, in fact, are
for the most part common to the Semitic race generally, and not
distinctive of any particular subdivision of it. They are seen now alike
in the Arab, the Jew, and the Chalaedeans of Kurdistan, while anciently
they not only characterized the Assyrians, but probably belonged also to
the Phoenicians, the Syrians, and other minor Semetic races. It is
evident, even from the mannered and conventional sculptures of Egypt,
that the physiognomy was regarded as characteristic of the western
Asiatic races. Three captives on the monuments of Amenophis III.,
represented as belonging to the Patana (people of Bashan?), the Asuru
(Assyrians), and the Karukamishi (people of Carchemish), present to us
the sane style of face, only slightly modified by Egyptian ideas.
[PLATE. XXXIV., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 34]

White in face the Assyrians appear thus to have borne a most close
resemblance to the Jews, in shape and make they are perhaps more nearly
represented by their descendants, the Chaldaeans of Kurdistan. While the
Oriental Jew has a spare form and a weak muscular development, the
Assyrian, like the modern Chaldaean, is robust, broad-shouldered, and
large-limbed. Nowhere have we a race represented to us monumentally of a
stronger or more muscular type than the ancient Assyrian. The great
brawny limbs are too large for beauty; but they indicate a physical
power which we may well believe to have belonged to this nation--the
Romans of Asia--the resolute and sturdy people which succeeded in
imposing its yoke upon all its neighbors. [PLATE XXXIV., Fig, 2.]

If from physical we proceed to mental characteristics, we seem again to
have in the Jewish character the best and closest analogy to the
Assyrian. In the first place, there is observable in each a strong and
marked prominency of the religious principle. Inscriptions of Assyrian
kings begin and end, almost without exception, with praises,
invocations, and prayers to the principal objects of their adoration.
All the monarch's successes, all his conquests and victories, and even
his good fortune in the chase, are ascribed continually to the
protection and favor of guardian deities. Wherever he goes, he takes
care to "set up the emblems of Asshur," or of "the great gods;" and
forces the vanquished to do them homage. The choicest of the spoil is
dedicated as a thank-offering in the temples. The temples themselves are
adorned, repaired, beautified, enlarged, increased in manner, by almost,
every monarch. The kings worship them in person, and offer sacrifices.
They embellish their palaces, not only with representations of their own
victories and hunting expeditions, but also with religious figures--the
emblems of some of the principal deities, and with scenes in which are
portrayed acts of adoration. Their signets, and indeed those of the
Assyrians generally, have a religious character. In every way religion
seems to hold a marked and prominent place in the thoughts of the
people, who fight more for the honor of their gods than even of their
king, and aim at extending their belief as much as their dominion.

Again, combined with this prominency of the religious principle, is a
sensuousness--such as we observe in Judaism continually struggling
against a higher and purer element--but which in this less favored
branch of the Semitic family reigns uncontrolled, and gives to its
religion a gross, material, and even voluptuous character. The ideal and
the spiritual find little favor with this practical people, which, not
content with symbols, must have gods of wood and stone whereto to pray,
and which in its complicated mythological system, its priestly
hierarchy, its gorgeous ceremonial, and finally in its lascivious
ceremonies, is a counterpart to that Egypt, from which the Jew was
privileged to make his escape.

The Assyrians are characterized in Scripture as "a fierce people." Their
victories seem to have been owing to their combining individual bravery
and hardihood with a skill and proficiency in the arts of war not
possessed by their more uncivilized neighbors. This bravery and
hardihood were kept up, partly (like that of the Romans) by their
perpetual wars, partly by the training afforded to their manly qualities
by the pursuit and destruction of wild animals. The lion--the king of
beasts--abounded in their country, together with many other dangerous
and ferocious animals. Unlike the ordinary Asiatic, who trembles before
the great beasts of prey and avoids a collision by flight if possible,
the ancient Assyrian sought out the strongest and fiercest of the
animals, provoked them to the encounter, and engaged with them in
hand-to-hand combats. The spirit of Nimrod, the "mighty hunter before
the Lord," not only animated his own people, but spread on from them to
their northern neighbors; and, as far as we can judge by the monuments,
prevailed even more in Assyria than in Chaldaea itself. The favorite
objects of chase with the Assyrians seem to have been the lion and the
wild bull, both beasts of vast strength and courage, which could not be
attacked without great danger to the bold assailant.

No doubt the courage of the Assyrians was tinged with ferocity. The
nation was "a mighty and strong one, which, as a tempest of hail and a
destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, cast down to
the earth with the hand." Its capital might well deserve to be called "a
bloody city," or "a city of bloods." Few conquering races have been
tender-hearted, or much inclined to spare; and undoubtedly carnage,
ruin, and desolation followed upon the track of an Assyrian army, and
raised feelings of fear and hatred among their adversaries. But we have
no reason to believe that the nation was especially bloodthirsty or
unfeeling. The mutilation of the slain--not by way of insult, but in
proof of their slayer's prowess was indeed practised among them; but
otherwise there is little indication of any barbarous, much less of any
really cruel, usages. The Assyrian listens to the enemy who asks for
quarter; he prefers making prisoners to slaying; he is very terrible in
the battle and the assault, but afterwards he forgives, and spares. Of
course in some cases he makes exceptions. When a town has rebelled and
been subdued, he impales some of the most guilty [PLATE XXXV., Fig. 1];
and in two or three instances prisoners are represented as led before
the king by a rope fastened to a ring which passes through the under
lip, while now and then one appears in the act of being flayed with it
knife [PLATE XXXV., Fig. 2.] But, generally, captives are either
released, or else transferred, without unnecessary suffering, from their
own country to some other portion of the empire. There seems even to be
something of real tenderness in the treatment of captured women, who are
never manacled, and are often allowed to ride on mules, or in carts.
[PLATE XXXVI., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 35]

[Illustration: PLATE 36]

The worst feature in the character of the Assyrians was their treachery.
"Woe to thee that spoilest, though thou wast not spoiled, and dealest
treacherously, though they dealt not treacherously with thee!" is the
denunciation of the evangelical prophet. And in the same spirit the
author of "The Burthen of Nineveh" declares that city to be "full of
lies and robbery"--or, more correctly, full of lying and violence.
Falsehood and treachery are commonly regarded as the vices of the weak,
who are driven to defend themselves against superior strength by the
weapon of cunning; but they are perhaps quite as often employed by the
strong as furnishing short cuts to success, and even where the moral
standard is low, as being in themselves creditable. It certainly was not
necessity which made the Assyrians covenant-breakers; it seems to have
been in part the wantonness of power--because they "despised the cities
and regarded no man;" perhaps it was in part also their imperfect moral
perception, which may have failed to draw the proper distinction between
craft and cleverness.

Another unpleasant feature in the Assyrian character--but one at which
we can feel no surprise--was their pride. This is the quality which
draws forth the sternest denunciations of Scripture, and is expressly
declared to have called down the Divine judgments upon the race. Isaiah,
Ezekiel, and Zephaniah alike dwell upon it. It pervades the
inscriptions. Without being so rampant or offensive as the pride of some
Orientals--as, for instance, the Chinese, it is of a marked and decided
color: the Assyrian feels himself infinitely superior to all the nations
with whom he is brought into contact; he alone enjoys the favor of the
gods; he alone is either truly wise or truly valiant; the armies of his
enemies are driven like chaff before him; he sweeps them away, like
heaps of stubble; either they fear to fight, or they are at once
defeated; he carries his victorious arms just as far as it pleases him,
and never under any circumstances admits that he has suffered a reverse.
The only merit that he allows to foreigners is some skill in the
mechanical and mimetic arts, and his acknowledgment of this is tacit
rather than express, being chiefly known from the recorded fact that he
employs foreign artists to ornament his edifices.

According to the notions which the Greeks derived from Ctesias, and
passed on to the Romans, and through them to the moderns generally, the
greatest defect in the Assyrian character--the besetting sin of their
leading men--was luxuriousness of living and sensuality. From Ninyas to
Sardanapalus--from the commencement to the close of the Empire--a line
of voluptuaries, according to Ctesias and his followers, held possession
of the throne; and the principle was established from the first, that
happiness consisted in freedom from all cares or troubles, and unchecked
indulgence in every species of sensual pleasure. This account,
intrinsically suspicious, is now directly contradicted by the authentic
records which we possess of the warlike character and manly pursuits of
so many of the kings. It probably, however, contains a germ of truth. In
a flourishing kingdom like Assyria, luxury must have gradually advanced;
and when the empire fell under the combined attack of its two most
powerful neighbors, no doubt it had lost much of its pristine vigor. The
monuments lend some support to the view that luxury was among the causes
which produced the fall of Assyria; although it may be questioned
whether, even to the last, the predominant spirit was not warlike and
manly, or even fierce and violent. Among the many denunciations of
Assyria in Scripture, there is only one which can even be thought to
point to luxury as a cause of her downfall; and that is a passage of
very doubtful interpretation. In general it is her violence, her
treachery, and her pride that are denounced. When Nineveh repented in
the time of Jonah, it was by each man "turning from his evil way and
from the violence which was in their hands." When Nahum announces the
final destruction, it is on "the bloody city, full of lies and robbery."
In the emblematic language of prophecy, the _lion_ is taken as the
fittest among animals to symbolize Assyria, even at this late period of
her history. She is still "the lion that did tear in pieces enough for
his whelps, and strangled for his lioness, and filled his holes with
prey, and his dens with ravin." The favorite national emblem, if it may
be so called, is accepted as the true type of the people; and blood,
ravin, and robbery are their characteristics in the mind of the Hebrew

In mental power the Assyrians certainly deserve to be considered as
among the foremost of the Asiatic races. They had not perhaps so much
originality as the Chaldaeans, from whom they appear to have derived the
greater part of their civilization; but in many respects it is clear
that they surpassed their instructors, and introduced improvements which
gave a greatly increased value and almost a new character to arts
previously discovered. The genius of the people will best be seen from
the accounts hereafter to be given of their language, their arts, and
their system of government. If it must be allowed that these have all a
certain smack of rudeness and primitive simplicity, still they are
advances upon aught that had previously existed--not only in
Mesopotamia--but in the world. Fully to appreciate the Assyrians, we
should compare them with the much-lauded Egyptians, who in all important
points are very decidedly their inferiors. The spirit and progressive
character of their art offers the strongest contrast to the stiff,
lifeless, and unchanging conventionalism of the dwellers on the Nile.
Their language and alphabet are confessedly in advance of the Egyptian.
Their religion is more earnest and less degraded. In courage and
military genius their superiority is very striking; for the Egyptians
are essentially an unwarlike people. The one point of advantage to which
Egypt may fairly lay claim is the grandeur and durability of her
architecture. The Assyrian palaces, magnificent, as they undoubtedly
were, must yield the palm to the vast structures of Egyptian Thebes. No
nation, not even Rome, has equalled Egypt in the size and solemn
grandeur of its buildings. But, except in this one respect, the great
African kingdom must be regarded as inferior to her Asiatic rival--which
was indeed "a cedar in Lebanon, exalted above all the trees of the
field--fair in greatness and in the length of his branches--so that all
the trees that were in the garden of God envied him, and not one was
like unto him in his beauty."



"Fuit et Ninus, imposita Tigri, ad solis occasum spectans, quondam
clarissima."--PLIN. H. N. vi. 13.

The site of the great capital of Assyria had generally been regarded as
fixed with sufficient certainty to the tract immediately opposite Mosul,
alike by local tradition and by the statements of ancient writers, when
the discovery by modern travellers of architectural remains of great
magnificence at some considerable distance from this position, threw a
doubt upon the generally received belief, and made the true situation of
the ancient Nineveh once more a matter of controversy. When the noble
sculptures and vast palaces of Nimrud were first uncovered, it was
natural to suppose that they marked the real site; for it seemed
unlikely that any mere provincial city should have been adorned by a
long series of monarchs with buildings at once on so grand a scale and
so richly ornamented. A passage of Strabo, and another of Ptolemy, were
thought to lend confirmation to this theory, which placed the Assyrian
capital nearly at the junction of the Upper Zab with the Tigris; and for
awhile the old opinion was displaced, and the name of Nineveh was
attached very generally in this country to the ruins at Nimrud.

Shortly afterwards a rival claimant started up in the regions further to
the north. Excavations carried on at the village of Khorsabad showed
that a magnificent palace and a considerable town had existed in
Assyrian times at that site. In spite of the obvious objection that the
Khorsabad ruins lay at the distance of fifteen miles from the Tigris,
which according to every writer of weight anciently washed the walls of
Nineveh, it was assumed by the excavator that the discovery of the
capital had been reserved for himself, and the splendid work
representing the Khorsabad bas-reliefs and inscriptions, which was
published in France under the title of "Monument de Ninive," caused the
reception of M. Botta's theory in many parts of the Continent.

After awhile an attempt was made to reconcile the rival claims by a
theory, the grandeur of which gained it acceptance, despite its
improbability. It was suggested that the various ruins, which had
hitherto disputed the name, were in fact all included within the circuit
of the ancient Nineveh; which was described as a rectangle, or oblong
square, eighteen miles long and twelve broad. The remains of Khorsabad,
Koyunjik, Nimrud, and Keremles marked the four corners of this vast
quadrangle, which contained an area of 216 square miles--about ten times
that of London! In confirmation of this view was urged, first, the
description in Diodorus, derived probably from Ctesias, which
corresponded (it was said) both with the proportions and with the actual
distances; and next, the statements contained in the book of Jonah,
which (it was argued) implied a city of some such dimensions. The
parallel of Babylon, according to the description given by Herodotus,
might fairly have been cited as a further argument; since it might have
seemed reasonable to suppose that there was no great difference of size
between the chief cities of the two kindred empires.

Attractive, however, as this theory is from its grandeur, and harmonious
as it must be allowed to be with the reports of the Greeks, we have
nevertheless to reject it on two grounds, the one historical and the
other topographical. The ruins of Khorsabad, Keremles, Nimrud, and
Koyunjik bear on their bricks distinct local titles; and these titles
are found attaching to distinct cities in the historical inscriptions.
Nimrud, as already observed, is Calah; and Khorsabad is Dur-Sargina, or
"the city of Sargon." Keremles has also its own appellation Dur-* * *,
"the city of the God [--]." Now the Assyrian writers do not consider
these places to be parts of Nineveh, but speak of them as distinct and
separate cities. Calah for a long time is the capital, while Nineveh is
mentioned as a provincial town. Dur-Sargina is built by Sargon, not at
Nineveh, but "near to Nineveh." Scripture, it must be remembered,
similarly distinguishes Calah as a place separate from Nineveh, and so
far from it that there was room for "a great city" between them. And the
geographers, while they give the name of Aturia or Assyria Proper to the
country about the one town, call the region which surrounds the other by
a distinct name, Calachene. Again, when the country is closely examined,
it is found, not only that there are no signs of any continuous town
over the space included within the four sites of Nimrud, Keremles.
Khorsabad, and Koyunjik, nor any remains of walls or ditches connecting
them, but that the four sites themselves are as carefully fortified on
what, by the theory we are examining, would be the inside of the city as
in other directions. It perhaps need scarcely be added, unless to meet
the argument drawn from Diodorus, that the four sites in question are
not so placed as to form the "oblong square" of his description, but
mark the angles of a rhombus very munch slanted from the perpendicular.

The argument derived from the book of Jonah deserves more attention than
that which rests upon the authority of Diodorus and Ctesias. Unlike
Ctesias, Jonah saw Nineveh while it still stood; and though the writer
of the prophetical book may not have been Jonah himself, he probably
lived not very many years later. Thus his evidence is that of a
contemporary, though (it may be) not that of an eye-witness; and, even
apart from the inspiration which guided his pen, he is entitled to be
heard with the utmost respect. Now the statements of this writer, which
have a bearing on the size of Nineveh, are two. He tells us, in one
place, that it was "an exceeding great city, of three days' journey;" in
another, that "in it were more than 120,000 persons who could not
discern between their right hand and their left." These passages are
clearly intended to describe a city of a size unusual at the time; but
both of them are to such an extent vague and indistinct, that it is
impossible to draw front either separately, or even from the two
combined, an exact definite notion. "A city of three days' journey" may
be one which it requires three days to traverse from end to end, or one
which is three days' journey in circumference, or, lastly, one which
cannot be thoroughly visited and explored by a prophet commissioned to
warn the inhabitants of a coming danger in less than three days' time.
Persons not able to distinguish their right hand from their left may (if
taken literally) mean children, and 120,000 such persons may therefore
indicate a total population of 600,000; or, the phrase may perhaps with
greater probability be understood of moral ignorance, and the intention
would in that case be to designate by it all the inhabitants. If Nineveh
was in Jonah's time a city containing a population of 120,000, it would
sufficiently deserve the title of "an exceeding great city;" and the
prophet might well be occupied for three days in traversing its squares
and streets. We shall find hereafter that the ruins opposite Mosul have
an extent more than equal to the accommodation of this number of

The weight of the argument from the supposed parallel ease of Babylon
must depend on the degree of confidence which can be reposed in the
statement made by Herodotus, and on the opinion which is ultimately
formed with regard to the real size of that capital. It would be
improper to anticipate here the conclusions which may be arrived at
hereafter concerning the real dimensions of "Babylon the Great;" but it
may be observed that grave doubts are entertained in many quarters as to
the ancient statements on the subject, and that the ruins do not cover
much more than one twenty-fifth of the space which Herodotus assigns to
the city.

We may, therefore, without much hesitation, set aside the theory which
would ascribe to the ancient Nineveh dimensions nine or ten times
greater than those of London, and proceed to a description of the group
of ruins believed by the best judges to mark the true site.

The ruins opposite Mosul consist of two principal Mounds, known
respectively as Nebbi-Yunus and Koyunjik. [PLATE XXXVI., Fig. 2.] The
Koyunjik mound, which lies to the north-west of the other, at the
distance of 900 yards, or a little more than half a mile, is very much
the more considerable of the two. Its shape is an irregular oval,
elongated to a point towards the north-east, in the line of its greater
axis. The surface is nearly flat; the sides slope at a steep angle, and
are furrowed with numerous ravines, worn in the soft material by the
rains of some thirty centuries. The greatest height of the mound above
the plum is towards the south-eastern extremity, where it overhangs the
small stream of the Khosr; the elevation in this part being about
ninety-five feet. The area covered by the mound is estimated at a
hundred acres, and the entire mass is said to contain 14,500,000 tons of
earth. The labor of a man would scarcely excavate and place in position
more than 120 tons of earth in a year; it would require, therefore, the
united exertions of 10,000 men for twelve years, or 20,000 men for six
years, to complete the structure. On this artificial eminence were
raised in ancient times the palaces and temples of the Assyrian
monarchs, which are now imbedded in the debris of their own ruins.

[Illustration: PLATE 37]

The mound of Nebbi-Ymus is at its base nearly triangular: [PLATE
XXXVII., Fig. 1.] It covers an area of about forty acres. It is loftier,
and its sides are more precipitous, than Koyunjik, especially on the
west, where it abutted upon the wall of the city. The surface is mostly
flat, but is divided about the middle by a deep ravine, running nearly
from north to south, and separating the mound into an eastern and a
western portion. The so-called tomb of Jonah is conspicuous on the north
edge of the western portion of the mound, and about it are grouped the
cottages of the Kurds and Turcomans to whom the site of the ancient
Nineveh belongs. The eastern portion of the mound forms a burial-ground,
to which the bodies of Mahometans are brought from considerable
distances. The mass of earth is calculated at six and a half millions of
tons; so that its erection would have given full employment to 10,000
men for the space of five years and a half.

These two vast mounds--the platforms on which palaces and temples were
raised--are both in the same line, and abutted, both of them, on the
western wall of the city. Their position in that wall is thought to have
been determined, not by chance, but by design; since they break the
western face of the city into three nearly equal portions. The entire
length of this side of Nineveh was 13,600 feet, or somewhat more than
two and a half miles. Anciently it seems to have immediately overhung
the Tigris, which has now moved off to the west, leaving a plain nearly
a mile in width between its eastern edge and the old rampart of the
city. This rampart followed, apparently, the natural course of the
river-bank; and hence, while on the whole it is tolerably straight, in
the most southern of the three portions it exhibits a gentle curve,
where the river evidently made a sweep, altering its course from
south-east nearly to south.

The western wall at its northern extremity approaches the present course
of the Tigris, and is here joined, exactly at right angles, by the
northern, or rather the north-western, rampart, which runs in a
perfectly straight line to the north-eastern angle of the city, and is
said to measure exactly 7000 feet. This wall is again divided, like the
western, but with even more preciseness, into three equal portions.
Commencing at the north-eastern angle, one-third of it is carried along
comparatively high ground, after which for the remaining two-thirds of
its course it falls by a gentle decline towards the Tigris. Exactly
midway in this slope the rampart is broken by a road, adjoining which is
a remarkable mound, covering one of the chief gates of the city.

At its other extremity the western wall forms a very obtuse angle with
the southern, which impends over a deep ravine formed by it winter
torrent, and runs in a straight line for about 1000 yards, when it meets
the eastern wall, with which it forms a slightly acute angle.

It remains to describe the eastern wall, which is the longest and the
least regular of the four. Tins barrier skirts the edge of a ridge of
conglomerate rock, which here rises somewhat above the level of the
plain, and presents a slightly convex sweep to the north east. At first
it runs nearly parallel to the western, and at right angles to the
northern wall; but, after pursuing this course for about three quarters
of a mile, it is forced by the natural convexity of the ridge to retire
a little, and curving gently inwards it takes a direction much more
southerly than at first, thus drawing continually nearer to the western
wall, whose course is almost exactly south-east. The entire length of
this wall is 16,000 feet, or above three miles. It is divided into two
portions, whereof the southern is somewhat the longer, by the stream of
the Khosr-Su; which coming from the north west, finds its way through
the ruins of the city, and then runs on across the low plain to the

The enceinte of Nineveh forms thus an irregular trapezium, or a
"triangle with its apex abruptly cut off to the south." The breadth,
even in the broadest part--that towards the north--is very
disproportionate to the length, standing to it as four to nine, or as 1
to 2.25. The town is thus of an oblong shape, and so far Diodorus truly
described it; though his dimensions greatly exceed the truth. The
circuit of the walls is somewhat less than eight miles, instead of being
more than fifty and the area which they include is 1100 English acres,
instead of being 112,000!

It is reckoned that in a populous Oriental town we may compute the
inhabitants at nearly, if not quite, a hundred per acre. This allows a
considerable space for streets, open squares, and gardens, since it
assigns but one individual to every space of fifty square yards.
According to such a mode of reckoning, the population of ancient
Nineveh, within the enceinte here described, may be estimated at 175,000
souls. No city of Western Asia is at the present day so populous.

In the above description of the ramparts surrounding Nineveh, no account
has been given of their width or height. According to Diodorus, the wall
wherewith Ninus surrounded his capital was 100 feet high, and so broad
that three chariots might drive side by side along the top. Xenophon,
who passed close to the ruins on his retreat with the Ten Thousand,
calls the height 150 feet, and the width 50 feet. The actual greatest
height at present seems to be 46 feet; but the _debris_ at the foot of the
walls are so great, and the crumbled character of the walls themselves
is so evident, that the chief modern explorer inclines to regard the
computation of Diodorus as probably no exaggeration of the truth. The
width of the walls, in their crumbled condition, is from 100 to 200

The mode in which the walls were constructed seems to have been the
following. Up to a certain height--fifty feet, according to
Xenophon--they were composed of neatly-hewn blocks of a fossiliferous
limestone, smoothed and polished on the outside. Above this, the
material used was sun-dried brick. The stone masonry was certainly
ornamented along its top by a continuous series of battlements or
gradines in the same material [PLATE XXXVII., Fig. 2] and it is not
unlikely that a similar ornamentation crowned the upper brick structure.
The wall was pierced at irregular intervals by gates, above which rose
lofty towers; while towers, probably of lesser elevation, occurred also
in the portions of the wall intervening between one gate and another. A
gate in the north-western rampart has been cleared by means of
excavation, the form and construction of which will best appear from the
annexed ground-plan. [PLATE XXXVII., Fig. 3.] It seems to have consisted
of three gateways, whereof the inner and outer were ornamented with
colossal human-headed hulls and other figures, while the central one was
merely panelled with slabs of alabaster. Between the gateways were two
large chambers, 70 feet long by 23 feet wide, which were thus capable of
containing a considerable body of soldiers. The chambers and gateways
are supposed to have been arched over, like the castles' gates on the
bas-reliefs. The gates themselves have wholly disappeared: but the
debris which filled both the chambers and the passages contained so much
charcoal that it is thought they must have been made, not of bronze,
like the gates of Babylon, but of wood. The ground within the gate-way
was paved with large slabs of limestone, still bearing the marks of
chariot wheels.

The castellated rampart which thus surrounded and guarded Nineveh did
not constitute by any means its sole defence. Outside the stone basement
wall lay on every side a water barrier, consisting on the west and south
of natural river courses; on the north and east, of artificial channels
into which water was conducted from the Khosr-su. The northern and
eastern walls were skirted along their whole length by a broad and deep
moat, into which the Khosr-su was made to flow by occupying its natural
bed with a strong dam carried across it in the line of the eastern wall,
and at the point where the stream now enters the enclosure. On meeting
this obstruction, of which there are still some remains, the waters
divided, and while part flowed to the south-east, and reached the Tigris
by the ravine immediately to the south of the city, which is a natural
water-course, part turned at an acute angle to the north-west, and,
washing the remainder of the eastern and the whole of the northern wall,
gained the Tigris at the north-west angle of the city, where a second
dam kept it at a sufficient height. Moreover, on the eastern face, which
appears to have been regarded as the weakest, a series of outworks were
erected for the further defence of the city. North of the Khosr, between
the city wall and that river, which there runs parallel to the wall and
forms a sort of second or outermost moat, there are traces of a detached
fort of considerable size, which must have strengthened the defences in
that quarter. South and south-east of the Khosr, the works are still
more elaborate. In the first place, from a point where the Khosr leaves
the hills and debouches upon comparatively low ground, a deep ditch, 200
feet broad, was carried through compact silicious conglomerate for
upwards of two miles, till it joined the ravine which formed the natural
protection of the city upon the south. On either side of this ditch,
which could be readily supplied with water from the Khosr at its
northern extremity, was built a broad and lofty wall; the eastern one,
which forms the outermost of the defences, rises even now a hundred feet
above the bottom of the ditch on which it adjoins. Further, between this
outer barrier and the city moat wall interposed a species of demilune,
guarded by a double wall and a broad ditch and connected (as is
thought) by a covered way with Neneveh itself. Thus the city was
protected on this, its most vulnerable side, towards the centre by five
walls and three broad and deep moats; towards the north, by a wall, a
moat, the Khosr, and  a strong outpost; towards the south by two moats
and three lines of rampart. The breadth of the whole fortification on
this side is 2200 feet, or not far from half a mile. [PLATE XXXVIII.]

[Illustration: PLATE 38]

Such was the site, and such were the defences, of the capital of
Assyria. Of its internal arrangements but little can be said at present,
since no general examination of the space within the ramparts has been
as yet made, and no ancient account of the interior has come down to us.
We can only see that the side of the city which was most fashionable was
the western, which immediately overhung the Tigris; since here were the
palaces of the kings, and here seem also to have been the dwellings of
the richer citizens; at least, it is on this side in the space
intervening between Koyunjik and the northern rampart, that the only
very evident remains of edifices--besides the great Mounds of Koyunjik
and Nebbi-Yunus--are found. The river was no doubt the main attraction;
but perhaps the western side was also considered the most secure, as
lying furthest frown the quarter whence alone the inhabitants expected
to be attacked, namely, the east. It is impossible at present to give
any account of the character of the houses or the the direction of the
streets. Perhaps the time may not be far distant when more systematic
and continuous efforts will be made by the enterprise of Europe to
obtain full knowledge of all the remains which still lie buried at this
interesting site. No such discoveries are indeed to be expected as those
which have recently startled the world but patient explorers would still
be sure of an ample reward, were they to glean, after Layard in the
field from which he swept so magnificent a harvest.



Greek phrase [--]--HEROD. iv. 137.

There has never been much difference of opinion among the learned with
regard to the language spoken by the Assyrians. As the Biblical
genealogy connected Asshur with Eber and Aram, while the Greeks plainly
regarded the Syrians, Assyrians, and Babylonians as a single race, it
was always supposed that the people thus associated must have possessed
a tongue allied, more or less closely, to the Hebrew, the Syriac, and
the Chaldee. These tongues were known to be dialectic varieties of a
single form of speech the Semitic; and it was consequently the general
belief, before any Assyrian inscriptions had been disinterred, that the
Assyrian language was of this type, either a sister tongue to the three
above mentioned, or else identical with some one of them. The only
difficulty in the way of this theory was the supposed Medo-Persic or
Arian character of a certain number of Assyrian royal names; but this
difficulty was thought to be sufficiently met by a suggestion that the
ruling tribe might have been of Median descent, and have maintained its
own national appellatives, while the mass of the population belonged to
a different race. Recent discoveries have shown that this last
suggestion was needless, as the difficulty which it was intended to meet
does not exist. The Assyrian names which either _history_ or the
monuments have handed down to us are Semitic, and not Arian. It is only
among the fabulous accounts of the Assyrian Empire put forth by Ctesias
that Arian names, such as Xerxes, Arius, Armamithres, Mithraus, etc.,
are to be found.

Together with the true names of the Assyrian kings, the mounds of
Mesopotamia have yielded up a mass of documents in the Assyrian
language, from which it is possible that we may one day acquire as full
a knowledge of its structure and vocabulary as we possess at present of
Greek or Latin. These documents have confirmed the previous belief that
the tongue is Semitic. They consist, in the first place, of long
inscriptions upon the slabs of stone with which the walls of palaces
were panelled, sometimes occupying the stone to the exclusion of any
sculpture, sometimes carried across the dress of figures, always
carefully cut, and generally in good preservation. Next in importance to
these memorials are the hollow cylinders, or, more strictly speaking,
hexagonal or octagonal prisms, made in extremely fine and thin terra
cotta, which the Assyrian kings used to deposit at the corners of
temples, inscribed with an account of their chief acts and with
numerous religious invocations. [PLATE XXXIX., Fig. 1.] These cylinders
vary from a foot and a half to three feet in height, and are covered
closely with a small writing, which it often requires a good magnifying
glass to decipher. A cylinder of Tiglath-Pileser I. (about B.C. 1180)
contains thirty lines in a space of six inches, or five lines to an
inch, which is nearly as close as the type of the present volume. This
degree of closeness is exceeded on a cylinder of Asshur-bani-pal's
(about B.C. 660), where the lines are six to the inch, or as near
together as the type of the _Edinburgh Review_. If the complexity of the
Assyrian characters be taken into account, and if it be remembered that
the whole inscription was in every ease impressed by the hand, this
minuteness must be allowed to be very surprising. It is not favorable to
legibility; and the patience of cuneiform scholars has been severely
tried by a mode of writing which sacrifices everything to the desire of
crowding the greatest possible quantity of words into the smallest
possible space. In one respect, however, facility of reading is
consulted, for the inscriptions on the cylinders are not carried on in
continuous lines round all the sides, but are written in columns, each
column occupying a side. The lines are thus tolerably short; and the
whole of a sentence is brought before the eye at once.

[Illustration: PLATE 39]

Besides slabs and cylinders, the written memorials of Assyria comprise
inscribed bulls and lions, stone obelisks, clay tablets, bricks, and
engraved seals. Tin seals generally resemble those of the Chaldaeans,
which have been already described: but are somewhat more elaborate, and
more varied in their character. [PLATE XXXIX., Fig. 2.] They do not very
often exhibit any writing; but occasionally they are inscribed with the
name of their owner, while in a few instances they show an inscription
of some length. The clay tablets are both numerous and curious. They are
of various sizes, ranging from nine inches long by six and a half wide,
to an inch and a half long by an inch wide, or even less. [PLATE XL.,
Fig. 2.] Sometimes they are entirely covered with writing; while
sometimes they exhibit on a portion of their surface the impressions of
seals, mythological emblems, and the like. Some thousands of them have
been recovered; and they are found to be of the most varied character.
Many are historical, still more mythological; some are linguistic, some
geographic, some again astronomical. It is anticipated that, when they
are deciphered, we shall obtain a complete eneyclopaedia of Assyrian
science, and shall be able by this means to trace a large portion of the
knowledge of the Greeks to an Oriental source. Here is a mine still very
little worked, from which patient and cautious investigators may one day
extract the most valuable literary treasures. The stone obelisks are but
few, and are mostly in a fragmentary condition. One alone is
perfect--the obelisk in black basalt, discovered by Mr. Layard at
Nimrud, which has now for many years been in the British Museum. [PLATE
XL., Fig. 1.] This monument is sculptured on each of its four sides, in
part with writing and in part with bas-reliefs. It is about seven feet
high, and two feet broad at the base, tapering gently towards the
summit, which is crowned with three low steps, or gradines. The
inscription, which occupies the upper and lower portion of each side,
and is also carried along the spaces between the bas-reliefs, consists
of 210 clearly cut lines, and is one of the most important documents
that has come down to us. It gives an account of various victories
gained by the monarch who set it up, and of the tribute brought him by
several princes. The inscribed lions and bulls are numerous. They
commonly guard the portals of palaces, and are raised in a bold relief
on alabaster slabs. The writing does not often trench upon the
sculpture, but covers all those portions of the slabs which are not
occupied by the animal. It is usually a full account of some particular
campaign, which was thus specially commemorated, giving in detail what
is far more briefly expressed in the obelisk and slab inscriptions.

[Illustration: PLATE 40]

This review of the various kinds of documents which have been discovered
in the ancient cities of Assyria, seems to show that two materials were
principally in use among the people for literary purposes, namely, stone
and moist clay. The monarchs used the former most commonly, though
sometimes they condescended for some special object to the coarser and
more fragile material. Private persons in their business transactions,
literary and scientific men in their compositions, employed the latter,
on which it was possible to write rapidly with a triangular instrument,
and which was no doubt far cheaper than the slabs of fine stone, which
were preferred for the royal inscriptions. The clay documents, when
wanted for instruction or as evidence, were carefully baked; and thus it
is that they have come down to us, despite their fragility, often in as
legible a condition, with the letters as clear and sharp, as any legend
on marble, stone, or metal that we possess belonging to Greek or even to
Roman times. The best clay, skilfully baked, is a material quite as
enduring as either stone or metal, resisting many influences better than
either of those materials.

It may still be asked, did not the Assyrians use other materials also?
Did they not write with ink of some kind on paper, or leather, or
parchment? It is certain that the Egyptians had invented a kind of thick
paper many centuries before the Assyrian power arose; and it is further
certain that the later Assyrian kings had a good deal of intercourse
with Egypt. Under such circumstances, can we suppose that they did not
import paper from that country? Again, the Persians, we are told, used
parchment for their public records. Are not the Assyrians a much more
ingenious people, likely to have done the same, at any rate to some
extent? There is no direct evidence by which these questions can be
determinately answered. No document on any of the materials suggested
has been found. No ancient author states that the Assyrians or the
Babylonians used them. Had it not been for one piece of indirect
evidence, it would have seemed nearly certain that they were not
employed by the Mesopotamian races. In some of the royal palaces,
however, small humps of fine clay have been found, bearing the
impressions of seals, and exhibiting traces of the string by which they
were attached to documents, while the documents themselves, being of a
different material, have perished. It seems probable that in these
instances some substance like paper or parchment was used; and thus we
are led to the conclusion that, while clay was the most common, and
stone an ordinary writing material among the Assyrians, some third
substance, probably Egyptian paper, was also known, and was used
occasionally, though somewhat rarely, for public documents.

[Illustration: Partial PAGE 171]

The number of characters is very great. Sir H. Rawlinson, in the year
1851, published a list of 216, or, including variants, 366 characters,
as occurring in the inscriptions known to him. M. Oppei t, in 1858, gave
318 forms as those "most in use." Of course it is at once evident that
this alphabet cannot represent elementary sounds. The Assyrian
characters do, in fact, correspond, not to letters, according to our
notion of letters, but to syllables. These syllables are either mere
vowel sounds, such as we represent by our vowels and diphthongs, or such
sounds accompanied by one or two consonants.

The vowels are not very numerous. The Assyrians recognize three only as
fundamental--_a, i_, and _u_. Besides these they have the diphthongs
_ai_, nearly equivalent to _e_, and _au_, nearly equivalent to _o_. The
vowels _i_ and _u_ have also the powers, respectively, of _y_ and _v_.

[Illustration: Partial PAGE 172]

From these sounds, combined with the simple vowels, comes the Assyrian
syllabarium, to which, and not to the consonants themselves, the
characters were assigned. In the first place, each consonant being
capable of two combinations with each simple vowel, could give birth
naturally to six simple syllables, each of which would be in the
Assyrian system represented by a character. Six characters, for
instance, entirely different from one another, represented _pa, pi, pu,
ap, ip, up_; six others, _ka, ki, ke, ak, ik, uk_; six others again,
_ta, ti, tu, at, it, ut_.

If this rule were carried out in every case, the sixteen consonant
sounds would, it is evident, produce ninety-six characters. The actual
number, however, formed in this way, is only seventy-five. Since these
are seven of the consonants which only combine with the vowels in one
way. Thus we have _ba, bi, bu_, but not _ab, ib, ub; ga, qi, gu_, but
not _ay, iq,ug_; and so on. The sounds regarded as capable of only one
combination are the _mediae, b, q, d_; the aspirates _kh, tj_; and the
sibilants _ts and z_.

Such is the first and simplest syllabarium: but the Assyrian system does
not stop here. It proceeds to combine with each simple vowel sound two
consonants, one preceding the vowel and the other following it. If this
plan were followed out to the utmost possible extent, the result would
be an addition to the syllabarium of seven hundred and sixty-eight
sounds, each having its proper character, which would raise the number
of characters to between eight and nine hundred! Fortunately for the
student, phonetic laws and other causes have intervened to check this
extreme luxuriance; and the combinations of this kind which are known to
exist, instead of amounting to the full limit of seven hundred and
sixty-eight, are under one hundred and fifty. The known Assyrian
alphabet is, however, in this way raised from eighty, or, including
variants, one hundred, to between two hundred and forty and two hundred
and fifty characters.

[Illustration: Partial PAGE 173]

Finally, there are a certain number of characters which have been called
"ideographs," or "monograms." Most of the gods, and various cities and
countries, are represented by a group of wedges, which is thought not to
have a real phonetic force, but to be a conventional sign for an idea,
much as the Arabic numerals, 1, 2, 3. etc., are non-phonetic signs
representing the ideas, one, two, three, etc. The known characters of
this description are between twenty and thirty.

The known Assyrian characters are thus brought up nearly to three
hundred! There still remain a considerable number which are either
wholly unknown, or of which the meaning is known, while the phonetic
value cannot at present be determined. M. Oppert's Catalogue contains
fourteen of the former and fifty-nine of the latter class.

It has already been observed that the monumental evidence accords with
the traditional belief in regard to the character of the Assyrian
language, which is unmistakably Semitic. Not only does the vocabulary
present constant analogies to other Semitic dialects, but the phonetic
laws and the grammatical forms are equally of this type. At the same
time the language has peculiarities of its own, which separate it from
its kindred tongues, and constitute it a distinct form of Semitic
speech, not a mere variety of any known form. It is neither Hebrew, nor
Arabic, nor Phoenician, nor Chaldee, nor Syriac, but a sister tongue to
these, having some analogies with all of them, and others, more or
fewer, with each. On the whole, its closest relationship seems to be
with the Hebrew, and its greatest divergence from the Aramaic or Syriac,
with which it was yet, locally, in immediate connection.

To attempt anything like a full illustration of these statements in the
present place would be manifestly unfitting. It would be to quit the
province of the historian and archeologist, in order to enter upon that
of the comparative philologer or the grammarian. At the same time a
certain amount of illustration seems necessary, in order to show that
the statements above made are not mere theories, but have a substantial

The Semitic character of the vocabulary will probably be felt to be
sufficiently established by the following lists:

[Illustration: Partial PAGE 174]

[Illustration: PAGE 175]

[Illustration: PAGE 176]

[Illustration: PAGE 177]

[Illustration: Partial PAGE 178]



"Architecti multarum artium solertes."--Mos. CHOR. (De Assyriis) i. 15.

The luxury and magnificence of the Assyrians, and the advanced condition
of the arts among them which such words imply, were matters familiar to
the Greeks and Romans, who, however, had little ocular evidence of the
fact, but accepted it upon the strength of a very clear and uniform
tradition. More fortunate than the nations of classical antiquity, whose
comparative proximity to the time proved no advantage to them, we
possess in the exhumed remains of this interesting people a mass of
evidence upon the point, which, although in many respects sadly
incomplete, still enables us to form a judgment for ourselves upon the
subject, and to believe--on better grounds than they possessed--the
artistic genius and multiform ingenuity of the Assyrians. As architects,
as designers, as sculptors, as metallurgists, as engravers, as
upholsterers, as workers in ivory, as glass-blowers, as embroiderers of
dresses, it is evident that they equalled, if they did not exceed, all
other Oriental nations. It is the object of the present chapter to give
some account of their skill in these various respects. Something is now
known of them all; and though in every case there are points still
involved in obscurity, and recourse must therefore be had upon occasion
to conjecture, enough appears certainly made out to justify such an
attempt as the present, and to supply a solid groundwork of fact
valuable in itself, even if it be insufficient to sustain in addition
any large amount of hypothetical superstructure.

The architecture of the Assyrians will naturally engage our attention at
the outset. It is from an examination of their edifices that we have
derived almost all the knowledge which we possess of their progress in
every art; and it is further as architects that they always enjoyed a
special repute among their neighbors. Hebrew and Armenian united with
Greek tradition in representing the Assyrians as notable builders at a
very early time. When Asshur "went forth out of the land of Shinar," it
was to build cities, one of which is expressly called "a great city."
When the Armenians had to give an account of the palaces and other vast
structures in their country, they ascribed their erection to the
Assyrians. Similarly. when the Greeks sought to trace the civilization
of Asia to its source, they carried it back to Ninus and Semiramis, whom
they made the founders, respectively, of Nineveh and Babylon, the two
chief cities of the early world.

Among the architectural works of the Assyrians, the first place is
challenged by their palaces. Less religious, or more servile, than the
Egyptians and the Greeks, they make their temples insignificant in
comparison with the dwellings of their kings, to which indeed the temple
is most commonly a sort of appendage. In the palace their art
culminates--there every effort is made, every ornament lavished. If the
architecture of the Assyrian palaces be fully considered, very little
need be said on the subject of their other buildings.

The Assyrian palace stood uniformly on an artificial platform. Commonly
this platform was composed of sun-dried-bricks in regular layers; but
occasionally the material used was merely earth or rubbish, excepting
towards the exposed parts--the sides and the surface which were always
either of brick or of stone. In most cases the sides were protected by
massive stone masonry, carried perpendicularly from the natural ground
to a height somewhat exceeding that of the plat-form, and either made
plain at the top or else crowned with stone battlements cut into
gradines. The pavement consisted in part of stone slabs, part of
kiln-dried bricks of a large size, often as much as two feet square. The
stone slabs were sometimes inscribed, sometimes ornamented with an
elegant pattern. (See [PLATE XLI., Fig. 2.]) Occasionally the terrace
was divided into portions at different elevations, which were connected
by staircases or inclined planes. The terrace communicated in the same
way with the level ground at its base, being (as is probable) sometimes
ascended in a single place, sometimes in several. These ascents were
always on the side where the palace adjoined upon the neighboring town,
and were thus protected from hostile attack by the town walls. [PLATE
XLI., Fig. 1] Where the palace abutted upon the walls or projected
beyond them--and the palace was always placed at the edge of a town, for
the double advantage, probably, of a clear view and of fresh air--the
platform rose perpendicularly or nearly so; and generally a water
protection, a river, a moat, or a broad lake, lay at its base, thus
rendering attack, except on the city side, almost impossible.

[Illustration: PLATE 41]

The platform appears to have been, in general shape, a rectangle, or
where it had different elevations, to have been composed of a
rectangles. The mound of Khorsabad, which is of this latter character,
resembles a gigantic T. [PLATE XLII., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 42]

It must not be supposed, however, that the rectangle was always exact.
Sometimes its outline was broken by angular projections and
indentations, as in the plan [PLATE XLII., Fig. 21.] where the shaded
parts represent actual discoveries. Sometimes it grew to be irregular,
by the addition of fresh portions, as new kings arose who determined on
fresh erections. This is the ease at Nimrud, where the platform broadens
towards its lower or southern end, and still more at Koyunjik and Nebbi
Yunus, where the rectangular idea has been so overlaid as to have almost
wholly disappeared. Palaces were commonly placed near one edge of the
mound--more especially near the river edge probably for the better
enjoyment of the prospect, and of the cool air over the water.

The palace itself was composed of three main elements, courts, grand
halls, and small private apartments. A palace has usually from two to
four courts, which are either square or oblong, and vary in size
according to the general scale of the building. In the north-west palace
at Nimrud, the most ancient of the edifices yet explored, one court only
has been found, the dimensions of which are 120 feet by 90. At
Khorsabad, the palace of Sargon has four courts. [PLATE XLII., Fig. 2.]
Three of them are nearly square, the largest of these measuring 180 feet
each Way, and the smallest about 120 feet; the fourth is oblong, and
must have been at least 250 feet long and 150 feet wide. The palace of
Sennacherib at Koyunjik, a much larger edifice than the palace of
Sargon, has also three courts, which are respectively 93 feet by 84, 124
feet by 90, and 154 feet by 125. Esarhaddon's palace at Nimrud has a
court 220 feet long and 100 wide. These courts were all paved either
with baked bricks of large size, or with stone slabs, which were
frequently patterned. Sometimes the courts were surrounded with
buildings; sometimes they abutted upon the edge of the platform: in this
latter case they were protected by a stone parapet, which (at least in
places) was six feet high.

The grand halls of the Assyrian palaces constitute their most remarkable
feature. Each palace has commonly several. They are apartments narrow
for their length, measuring from three to five times their own width,
and thus having always somewhat the appearance of galleries. The scale
upon which they are built is, commonly, magnificent. In the palace of
Asshur-izir-pal at Nimrud, the earliest of the discovered edifices, the
great hall was 160 feet long by nearly 40 broad. In Sargon's palace at
Khorsabad the size of no single room was so great; but the number of
halls was remarkable, there being no fewer than five of nearly equal
dimensions. The largest was 116 feet long, and 33 wide; the smallest 87
feet long, and 25 wide. The palace of Sennacherib at Koyuhjik contained
the most spacious apartment yet exhumed. It was immediately inside the
great portal, and extended in length 180 feet, with a uniform width of
forty feet. In one instance only, so far as appears, was an attempt made
to exceed this width. In the palace of Esarhaddon, the son of
Sennacherib, a hall was designed intended to surpass all former ones.
[PLATE XLIII., Fig. 2.] Its length was to be 165 feet, and its width 62;
consequently it would have been nearly one-third larger than the great
hall of Sennacherib, its area exceeding 10,000 square feet. But the
builder who had designed this grand structure appears to have been
unable to overcome the difficulty of carrying a roof over so vast an
expanse. He was therefore obliged to divide his hall by a wall down the
middle; which, though he broke it in an unusual way into portions, and
kept it at some distance from both ends of the apartment, still had the
actual effect of subdividing his grand room into four apartments of only
moderate size. The halls were paved with sun-burnt brick. They were
ornamented throughout by the elaborate sculptures, now so familiar to
us, carried generally in a single, but sometimes in a double line, round
the four walls of the apartment. The sculptured slabs rested on the
ground, and clothed the walls to the height of 10 or 12 feet. Above, for
a space which we cannot positively fix, but which was certainly not less
than four or five feet, the crude brick wall was continued, faced here
with burnt brick enamelled on the side towards the apartment, pleasingly
and sometimes even brilliantly colored. 10 The whole height of the walls
was probably from 15 to 20 feet.

[Illustration: PLATE 43]

By the side of the halls, or at their ends, and opening into them, or
sometimes collected together into groups, with no hall near, are the
smaller chambers of which mention has been already made. These chambers
are in every case rectangular: in their proportions they vary from
squares to narrow oblongs. 90 feet by 17, 85 by 16, 80 by 15, and the
like. When they are square, the side is never more than about 25 feet.
They are often as richly decorated as the halls, but sometimes are
merely faced with plain slabs or plastered; while occasionally they have
no facing at all, but exhibit throughout the crude brick. This, however,
is unusual.

The number of chambers in a palace is very large. In Sennacherib's
palace at Koyunjik, where great part of the building remains still
unexplored, the excavated chambers amount to sixty-eight--all, be it
remembered, upon the ground floor. The space covered by them and by
their walls exceeds 40,000 square yards. As Mr. Fergusson observes, "the
imperial palace of Sennacherib is, of all the buildings of antiquity,
surpassed in magnitude only by the great palace-temple of Karnak; and
when we consider the vastness of the mound on which it was raised, and
the richness of the ornaments with which it was adorned, it is by no
means clear that it was not as great, or at least as expensive, a work
as the great palace-temple at Thebes." Elsewhere the excavated
apartments are less numerous; but in no case is it probable that a
palace contained on its ground floor fewer than forty or fifty chambers.

The most striking peculiarity which the ground-plans of the palaces
disclose is the uniform adoption throughout of straight and parallel
lines. No plan exhibits a curve of any kind, or any angle but a right
angle. Courts, chambers, and halls are, in most cases, exact rectangles;
and even where any variety occurs, it is only by the introduction of
squared recesses or projections, which are moreover shallow and
infrequent. When a palace has its own special platform, the lines of the
building are further exactly parallel with those of the mound on which
it is placed; and the parallelism extends to any other detached
buildings that there may be anywhere upon the platform. When a mound is
occupied by more palaces than one, sometimes this law still obtains, as
at Nimrud, where it seems to embrace at any rate the greater number of
the palaces; sometimes, as at Koyunjik, the rule ceases to be observed,
and the ground-plan of each palace seems formed separately and
independently, with no reference to any neighboring edifice.

Apart from this feature, the buildings do not affect much regularity. In
courts and facades, to a certain extent, there is correspondence; but in
the internal arrangements, regularity is decidedly the exception. The
two sides of an edifice never correspond; room never answers to room;
doorways are rarely in the middle of walls; where a rooms has several
doorways, they are seldom opposite to one another, or in situations at
all corresponding.

There is a great awkwardness in the communications. Very few corridors
or passages exist in any of the buildings. Groups of rooms, often
amounting to ten or twelve, open into one another; and we find
comparatively few rooms to which there is any access except through some
other room. Again, whole sets of apartments are sometimes found, between
which and the rest of the palace all communication is cut off by thick
walls. Another peculiarity in the internal arrangements is the number of
doorways in the larger apartments, and their apparently needless
multiplication. We constantly find two or even three doorways leading
from a court into a hall, or from one hall into a second. It is
difficult to see what could be gained by such an arrangement.

The disposition of the various parts of a palace will probably be better
apprehended from an exact account of a single building than from any
further general statements. For this purpose it is necessary to select a
specimen from among the various edifices that have been disentombed by
the labors of recent excavators. The specimen should be, if possible,
complete; it should have been accurately surveyed, and the survey should
have been scientifically recorded; it should further stand single and
separate, that there may be no danger of confusion between its remains
and those of adjacent edifices. These requirements, though nowhere
exactly met, are very nearly met by the building at Khorsabad, which
stands on a mound of its own, unmixed with other edifices, has been most
carefully examined, and most excellently represented and described, and
which, though not completely excavated, has been excavated with a nearer
approach to completeness than any other edifice in Assyria. The
Khorsabad building--which is believed to be a palace built by Sargon,
the son of Sennacherib--will therefore be selected for minute
description in this place, as the palace most favorably circumstanced,
and the one of which we have, on the whole, the most complete and exact
knowledge. [PLATE XLIV.]

[Illustration: PLATE 44]

The situation of the town, whereof the palace of Sargon formed a part,
has been already described in a former part of this volume. The shape,
it has been noted, was square, the angles facing the four cardinal
points. Almost exactly in the centre of the north-west wall occurs the
palace platform, a huge mass of crude brick, from 20 to 30 feet high,
shaped like a T, the upper limb lying within the city walls, and the
lower limb (which is at a higher elevation) projecting beyond the line
of the walls to a distance of at least 500 feet. At present there is a
considerable space between the ends of the wall and the palace mound;
but anciently it is provable that they either abutted on the mound, or
were separated from it merely by gateways. The mound, or at any rate the
part of it which projected beyond the walls, was faced with hewn stone,
carried perpendicularly from the plain to the top of the platform, and
even beyond, so as to form a parapet protecting the edge of the
platform. On the more elevated portion of the mound--that which
projected beyond the walls stood the palace, consisting of three groups
of buildings, the principal group lying towards the mound's northern
angle. On the lower portion of the platform were several detached
buildings, the most remarkable being a huge gateway or propylaeum,
through which the entrance lay to the palace from the city. Beyond and
below this, on the level of the city, the first or outer portals were
placed, giving entrance to a court in front of the lower terrace.

A visitor approaching the palace had in the first place to pass through
these portals. They were ornamented with colossal human-headed bulls on
either side, and probably spanned by an arch above, the archivolte being
covered with enamelled bricks disposed in a pattern. Received within the
portals, the visitor found himself in front of a long wall of solid
stone masonry, the revetement of the lower terrace, which rose from the
outer court to a height of at least twenty feet. Either an inclined-way
or a flight of steps--probably the latter--must have led up from the
outer court to this terrace. Here the visitor found another portal or
propylaeum of a magnificent character. [PLATE XLIII., Fig. 1.] Midway in
the south-east side of the lower terrace, and about fifty feet from its
edge, stood this grand structure, gateway ninety-feet in width, and at
least twenty-five in depth, having on each side three winged bulls of
gigantic size, two of them fifteen feet high, and the third nineteen
feet. Between the two small bulls, which styled back to back, presenting
their sides to the spectator, was a colossal figure, strangling a
lion--the Assyria Hercules, according to most writers. The larger bulls
stood at right angles to these figures, withdrawn within the portal, and
facing the spectator. The space between the bulls, which is nearly
twenty feet, was (it is probable) arched over.  Perhaps the archway led
into a chamber beyond which was a second archway and an inner portal, as
marked in Mr. Fergusson's plan: but this is at present uncertain.

Besides the great portal, the only buildings as yet discovered on this
lower platform, are a suite of not very extensive apartments. They are
remarkable for their ornamentation. The walls are neither lined with
slabs, nor yet (as is sometimes the case) painted, but the plaster of
which they are composed is formed into sets of half pillars or reeding,
separated from one another by pilasters with square sunk panels. The
former kind of ornamentation is found also in Lower Chaldaea, and has
been already represented; the latter is peculiar to this building. It is
suggested that these apartments formed the quarters of the soldiers who
kept watch over the royal residence.

About 300 feet from the outer edge of the lower terrace, the upper
terrace seems to have commenced. It was raised probably about ten feet
above the lower one. The mode of access has not been discovered, but is
presumed to have been by a flight of steps, not directly opposite the
propylaeum, but somewhat to the right, whereby entrance was given to the
great court, into which opened the main gateways of the palace itself.
The court was probably 250 feet long by 160 or 170 feet wide. The
visitor, on mounting the steps, perhaps passed through another
propylaeum (_b_ in the plan); after which, if his business was with the
monarch, he crossed the full length of the court, leaving a magnificent
triple entrance, which is thought to have led to the king's _hareem_, on
his left and making his way to the public gate of the palace, which
fronted him when he mounted the steps. The _hareem_ portal, which he
passed, resembled in the main the great propylaeum of the lower
platform; but, being triple, it was still more magnificent exhibiting
two other entrances on either side of the main one, guarded each by a
single pair of winged bulls of the smaller size. Along the _hareem_
wall, from the gateway to the angle of the court, was a row of
sculptured bas-reliefs, ten feet in height, representing the monarch
with his attendant guards and officers. [PLATE XLIII., Fig. 3.] The
facade occupying the end of the court was of inferior grandeur. [PLATE
XLV., Fig.1. ] Sculptures similar to those along the _hareem_ wall
adorned it; but its centre showed only a single gateway, guarded by one
pair of the larger bulls, fronting the spectator, and standing each in a
sort of recess, the character of which will be best understood by the
ground-plan in the illustration. Just inside the bulls was the great
door of the palace, a single door made of wood-apparently of
mulberry,--opening inwards, and fastened on the inside by a bolt at
bottom, and also by an enormous lock. This door gave entrance into a
passage, 70 feet long and about 10 feet wide, paved with large slabs of
stone, and adorned on either side with inscriptions, and with a double
row of sculptures, representing the arrival of tribute and gifts for the
monarch. All the figures here faced one way, towards the inner palace
court into which the passage led. M. Botta believes that the passage was
uncovered; while Mx. Fergusson imagines that it was vaulted throughout.
It must in any case have been lighted from above; for it would have been
impossible to read the inscriptions, or even to see the sculptures,
merely by the light admitted at the two ends.

[Illustration: PLATE 45]

From the passage in question--one of the few in the edifice--no doorway
opened out either on the right hand or on the left. The visitor
necessarily proceeded along its whole extent, as he saw the figures
proceeding in sculptures, and, passing through a second portal, found
himself in the great inner court of the palace, a square of about 100 or
160 feet, enclosed on two sides--the south-east and the south-west-by
buildings, on the other two sides reaching to the edge of the terrace,
which here gave upon, the open country. The buildings on the
south-eastside, looking towards the north-west, and and joining the
gateway by which the had entered, were of comparatively minor
importance. They consisted of a few chambers suitable for officers of
the court, and were approached from the court by two doorways, one on
either side of the passage through which he had come. To his left,
looking towards the north-east, were the great state apartments, the
principal part of the palace, forming a facade, of which some idea may
perhaps be formed from the representation. [PLATE XLVI.] The upper part
of this representation is indeed purely conjectural; and when we come to
consider the mode in which the Assyrian palaces were roofed and lighted,
we shall perhaps find reason to regard it as not very near the truth;
but the lower part, up to the top of the sculptures, the court itself,
and the various accessories, are correctly given, and furnish the only
_perspective_ view of this part of the palace which has been as yet

[Illustration: PLATE 46]

The great state apartments consisted of a suite of ten rooms. Five of
these were halls of large dimensions; one was a long and somewhat narrow
chamber, and the remaining four were square or slightly oblong
apartments of minor consequence. All of them were lined throughout with
sculpture. The most important seem to have been three halls _en-suite_
(VIII., V., and II. in the plan), which are, both in their external and
internal decorations, by far the most splendid of the whole palace. The
first lay just within the north-east facade, and ran parallel to it. It
was entered by three doorways, the central one ornamented externally.
with two colossal bulls of the largest size, one on either side within
the entrance, and with two pairs of smaller bulls, back to back, on the
projecting pylons; the side ones guarded by winged genii, human or
hawk-headed. The length of the chamber was 116 feet 6 inches, and its
breadth 33 feet. Its sculptures represented the monarch receiving
prisoners, and either personally or by deputy punishing them: [PLATE
XLV., Fig. 3.] We may call it, for distinction's sake, "the Hall of

The second hall (V. in the plan) ran parallel with the first, but did
not extend along its whole length. It measured from end to end about 86
feet, and from side to side 21 feet 6 inches. Two doorways led into it
from the first chamber, and two others led from it into two large
apartments. One communicated with a lateral hall (marked VI. in the
plan), the other with the third hall of the suite which is here the
special object of our attention. This third hall (II. in the plan) was
of the same length as the first, but was less wide by about three feet.
It opened by three doorways upon a square, court, which has been called
"the Temple Court," from a building on one side of it which will be
described presently.

The sculptures of the second and third halls represented in a double
row, separated by an inscribed space about two feet in width, chiefly
the wars of the monarch, his battles, sieges, reception of captives and
of spoil, etc. The monarch himself appeared at least four times standing
in his chariot, thrice in calm procession, and once shooting his arrows
against his enemies. [PLATE XLV., Fig. 2.] Besides these, the upper
sculptures on one side exhibited sacred ceremonies.

Placed at right angles to this primary suite of three halls were two
others, one (IV. in the plan) of dimensions little, if at all, inferior
to those of the largest (No. VIII), the other (VI. in the plan) nearly
of the same length, but as narrow as the narrowest of the three (No.
V.). Of these two lateral halls the former communicated directly with
No. VIII., and also by a narrow passage room (III. in the plan with No.
II.) The other had direct communication both with No. II and No. V., but
none with No. VIII. With this hall (No. VI. ) three smaller chambers
were connected (Nos. IX., XI., and XI.); with the other lateral hall,
two only (Nos. III. and VII. ). One chamber attached to this block of
buildings (I. in the plan) opened only on the Temple Court. It has been
suggested that it contained a staircase; but of this there is no

The Temple Court--a square of 150 feet--was occupied by buildings on
three sides, and open on one only--that to the north-west. The state
apartments closed it in on the north-east, the temple on the south-west:
on the south-east it was bounded by the range of buildings called
"Priests' Rooms" in the plan, chambers of less pretension than almost
any that have been excavated. The principal facade here was that of the
state apartments, on the north-east. On this, as on the opposite side of
the palace, were three portals; but the two fronts were not of equal
magnificence. On the side of the Temple Court a single pair of bulls,
facing the spectator, guarded the middle portals; the side portals
exhibited only figures of genii, while the spaces between the portals
were occupied, not with bulls, but merely with a series of human
figures, resembling those in the first or outer court, of which a
representation has been already given. Two peculiarities marked the
south-east facade. In the first place, it lay in a perfectly straight
line, unbroken by any projection, which is very unusual in Assyrian
architecture. In the second place, as if to compensate for this monotony
in its facial line, it was pierced by no fewer than five doorways, all
of considerable width, and two of them garnished with bulls, of namely,
the second and the fourth. The bulls of the second gateway were of the
larger, those of the fourth were of the smaller size; they stood in the
usual manner, a little withdrawn within the gateways and looking towards
the spectator.

Of the curious building which closed in the court on the third or
south-west side, which is believed to have been a temple, the remains
are unfortunately very slight. It stood so near the edge of the terrace
that the greater part of it has fallen into the plain. Less than half of
the ground-plan is left, and only a few feet of the elevation. The
building may originally have been a square, or it may have been an
oblong, as represented in the plan. It was approached from the court by
a a flight of stone stops, probably six in number, of which four remain
in place. This flight of steps was placed directly opposite to the
central door of the south-west palace facade. From the level of the
court, to that of the top of the steps, a height of about six feet, a
solid platform of crude brick was raised as a basis for the temple; and
this was faced, probably throughout its whole extent, with a solid wall
of hard black basalt, ornamented with a cornice in gray limestone, of
which the accompanying figures are representations. [PLATE. XLV., Fig.
4.] above this the external work has disappeared. Internally, two
chambers may be traced, floored with a mixture of stones and chalk; and
round one of these are some fragments of bas-reliefs, representing
sacred subjects, cut on the same black basalt as that by which the
platform is cased, and sufficient to show that the same style of
ornamentation prevailed here as in the palace.

The principal doorway on the north-west side of the Temple Court
communicated by a passage, with another and similar doorway (_d_ on the
plan), which opened into a fourth court, the smallest and least
ornamented of those on the upper platform.

The mass of building whereof this court occupied the centre, is believed
to have constituted the _hareem_ or private apartments of the monarch.
It adjoined the state apartments at its northern angle, but had no
direct communication with them. To enter it from them the visitor had
either to cross the Temple Court and proceed by the passage above
indicated, or else to go round by the great entrance (X in the plan )
and obtain admission by the grand portals on the south-west side of the
outer court. These latter portals, it is to be observed, are so placed
as to command no view into the _Hareem_ Court, though it is opposite to
them. The passages by which they gave entrance into that court must have
formed some such angles as those marked by the dotted lines in the plan,
the result being that visitors, while passing through the outer court,
would be unable to catch any sight of what was going on in the _Hareem_
Court. even if the great doors happened to be open. Those admitted so
far into the palace as the Temple Court were more favored or less
feared. The doorway (_d_) on the south-east side of the _Hareem_ Court
is exactly opposite the chief doorway on the north-west side of the
Temple Court, and there can be no reasonable doubt that a straight
passage connected the two.

It is uncertain whether the _Hareem_ Court was surrounded by buildings
on every side, or open towards the south-west. M. Botta believed that it
was open; and the analogy of the other courts would seem to make this
probable. It is to be regretted, however, that this portion of the great
Khorsabad ruin still remains so incompletely examined. Consisting of the
private apartments, it is naturally less rich in sculptures than other
parts; and hence it has been comparatively neglected. The labor would,
nevertheless, be well employed which should be devoted to this part of
the ruin, as it would give us (what we do not now possess) the complete
ground-plan of an Assyrian palace. It is earnestly to be hoped that
future excavators will direct their efforts to this easily attainable
and interesting object.

The ground-pins of the palaces, and some sixteen feet of their
elevations, are all that fire and time have left us of these remarkable
monuments. The total destruction of the upper portion of every palatial
building in Assyria, combined with the want of any representation of the
royal residences upon the bas-reliefs, reduces us to mere conjecture
with respect to their height, to the mode in which they were roofed and
lighted, and even to the question whether they had or had not an upper
story. On these subjects various views have been put forward by persons
entitled to consideration; and to these it is proposed now to direct the
reader's attention.

In the first place, then, had they an upper story? Mr. Layard and Mr.
Fergusson decide this question in the affirmative. Mr. Layard even goes
so far as to say that the fact is one which "can no longer be doubted."
He rests this conclusion on two grounds first, on a belief that "upper
chambers" are mentioned in the Inscriptions, and, secondly, on the
discovery by himself, in Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik, of what
seemed to be an inclined way, by which he supposes that the ascent was
made to an upper story. The former of these two arguments must be set
aside as wholly uncertain. The interpretation of the architectural
inscriptions of the Assyrians is a matter of far too much doubt at
present to serve as a groundwork upon which theories can properly be
raised as to the plan of their buildings. With regard to the inclined
passage, it is to be observed that it did not appear to what it led. It
may have conducted to a gallery looking into one of the great halls, or
to an external balcony overhanging an outer court; or it may have been
the ascent to the top of a tower, whence a look-out was kept up and down
the river. Is it not more likely that this ascent should have been made
for some exceptional purpose, than that it should be the only specimen
left of the ordinary mode by which one half of a palace was rendered
accessible? It is to be remembered that no remains of a staircase,
whether of stone or of wood have been found in any of the palaces, and
that there is no other instance in any of them even of an inclined
passage. Those who think the palaces had second stories, believe these
stories to have been reached by staircases of wood, placed in various
parts of the buildings, which were totally destroyed by the
conflagrations in which the palaces perished. But it is at least
remarkable that no signs have been found in any existing walls of rests
for the ends of beams, or of anything implying staircases. Hence M.
Botta, the most careful and the most scientific of recent excavators,
came to a very positive conclusion that the Khorsabad buildings had had
no second story, a conclusion which it would not, perhaps, be very bold
to extend to Assyrian edifices generally.

It has been urged by Mr. Fergusson that there must have been an upper
story, because otherwise all the advantage of the commanding position of
the palaces, perched on their lofty platforms, would have been lost. The
platform at Khorsabad was protected, in the only places where its edge
has been laid bare, by a stone wall or parapet _six feet in height_.
Such a parapet continued along the whole of the platform would
effectually have shut out all prospect of the open country, both from
the platform itself and also from the gateways of the palace, which are
on the same level. Nor could there well be any view at all from the
ground chambers, which had no windows, at any rate within fifteen feet
of the floor. To enjoy a view of anything but the dead wall skirting the
mound, it was necessary (Mr. Fergusson thinks) to mount to a second
story, which he ingeniously places, not over the ground rooms, but on
the top of the outer and party walls, whose structure is so massive that
their area falls (he observes) but little short of the area of the
ground-rooms themselves.

This reasoning is sufficiently answered, in the first place, by
observing that we know not whether the Assyrians appreciated the
advantage of a view, or raised their palace platforms for any such
object. They may have constructed them for security only, or for greater
dignity and greater seclusion. They may have looked chiefly for comfort
and have reared them in order to receive the benefit of every breeze,
and at the same time to be above the elevation to which gnats and
mosquitoes commonly rise. Or there may be a fallacy in concluding, from
the very slight data furnished by the excavations of M. Botta, that a
palace platform was, in any case, skirted along its whole length, by a
six-foot parapet. Nothing is more probable than that in places the
Khorsabad parapet may have been very much lower than this; and elsewhere
it is not even ascertained that any parapet at all edged the platform.
On the whole we seem to have no right to conclude, merely on account of
the small portions of parapet wall uncovered by M. Botta, that an upper
story was a necessity to the palaces. If the Assyrians valued a view,
they may easily have made their parapets low in places: if they cared so
little for it as to shut it out from all their halls and terraces, they
may not improbably have dispensed with the advantage altogether.

The two questions of the roofing and lighting of the Assyrian palaces
are so closely connected together that they will most conveniently be
treated in combination. The first conjecture published on the subject of
roofing was that of M. Flandin. who suggested that the chambers
generally--the great halls at any rate--had been ceiled with a brick
vault. He thought that the complete filling up of the apartments to the
height of fifteen or twenty feet was thus best explained; and he
believed  that there were traces of the fallen vaulting in the _debris_
with which the apartments were filled. His conjecture was combated, soon
after he put it forth, by M. Botta, who gave it as his opinion--first,
that the walls of the chambers, notwithstanding their great thickness,
would have been unable, considering their material, to sustain the
weight, and (still more to bear) the lateral thrust, of a vaulted roof;
and, secondly, that such a roof, if it had existed at all, must have
been made of baked brick or stone-crude brick being too weak for the
purpose--and when it fell must have left ample traces of itself within
the apartments, whereas, in none of them, though he searched, could he
find any such traces. On this latter point M. Botta and M. Flandin--both
eye witnesses--were at variance. M. Flandin believed that he had seen
such traces, not only in numerous broken fragments of burnt brick strewn
through all the chambers, but in occasional masses of brick-work
contained in some of them actual portions, as he thought, of the
original vaulting. M. Botta, however, observed--first, that the quantity
of baked brick within the chambers was quite insufficient for a vaulted
roof; and, secondly, that the position of the masses of brickwork
noticed by M. Flandin was always towards the sides, never towards the
centres of the apartments; a clear proof that they had fallen from the
upper part of the walls above the sculptures, and not from a ceiling
covering the whole room. He further observed that the quantity of
charred wood and charcoal within the chambers, and the calcined
appearance of all the slabs, were phenomena incompatible with any other
theory than that of the destruction of the palace by the conflagration
of a roof mainly of wood.

To these arguments of M. Botta may be added another from the
improbability of the Assyrians being sufficiently advanced in
architectural science to be able to construct an arch of the width
necessary to cover some of the chambers. The principle of the arch was,
indeed, as will be hereafter shown, well known to the Assyrians, but
hitherto we possess no proof that they were capable of applying it on a
large scale. The widest arch which has been found in any of the
buildings is that of the Khorsabad town-gate uncovered by M. Place,
which spans a space of (at most) fourteen or fifteen feet. But the great
halls of the Assyrian palaces have a width of twenty-five, thirty, and
even forty feet. It is at any rate uncertain whether the constructive
skill of their architects could have grappled successfully with the
difficulty of throwing a vault over so wide an interval as even the
least of these.

M. Botta, after objecting, certainly with great force, to the theory of
M. Flandin, proceeded to suggest a theory of his own. After carefully
reviewing all the circumstances, he gave it as his opinion that the
Khorsabad building had been roofed throughout with a flat, earth-covered
roofing of wood. He observed that some of the buildings on the
bas-reliefs had flat roofs, that flat roofs are still the fashion of the
country, and that the debris within the chambers were exactly such as a
roof of that kind would be likely, if destroyed by fire, to have
produced. He further noticed that on the floors of the chambers, in
various parts of the palace, there had been discovered stone rollers
closely resembling those still in use at Mosul and Baghdad, for keeping
close-pressed and hard the earthen surface of such roofs; which rollers
had, in all probability, been applied to the same use by the Assyrians,
and, being kept on the roofs, had fallen through during the

The first difficulty which presented itself here was one of those
regarded as most fatal to the vaulting theory, namely, the width of the
chambers. Where flat timber roofs prevail in the East, their span seems
never to exceed twenty-five feet. The ordinary chambers in the Assyrian
palaces might, undoubtedly, therefore, have been roofed in this way, by
a series of horizontal beans laid across them from side to side, with
the ends resting upon the tops of the side walls. But the great halls
seemed too wide to have borne such a roofing without supports.
Accordingly, M. Botts suggested that in the greater apartments a single
or a double row of pillars ran down the middle, reaching to the roof and
sustaining it. His theory was afterwards warmly embraced by Mr.
Fergusson, who endeavored to point out the exact position of the pillars
in the three great halls of Sargon at Khorsabad. It seems, however, a
strong and almost a fatal objection to this theory, that no bases of
pillars have been found within the apartments, nor any marks on the
brick floors of such bases or of the pressure of the pillars. M. Botta
states that he made a careful search for bases, or for marks of pillars,
on the pavement of the north-east hall (No. VIII.) at Khorsabad, but
that he _entirely failed to discover any_. This negative evidence is the
more noticeable as stone pillar-bases have been found in wide doorways,
where they would have been less necessary than in the chambers, as
pillars in doorways could have had but little weight to sustain.

M. Botta and Mr. Fergusson, who both suppose that in an Assyrian palace
the entire edifice was roofed in, and only the courts left open to the
sky, suggest two very different modes by which the buildings may have
been lighted. M. Botta brings light in from the roof by means of wooden
_louvres_, such as are still employed for the purpose in Armenia and
parts of India, whereof he gives the representation which is reproduced.
[PLATE XLVII., Fig. 7.] Mr. Fergusson introduces light from the sides,
by supposing that the roof did not rest directly on the walls, but on
rows of wooden pillars placed along the edge of the walls both
internally towards the apartments and externally towards the outer air.
The only ground for this supposition, which is of a very startling
character, seems to be the occurrence in a single bas-relief,
representing a city in Armenia, of what is regarded as a similar
arrangement. But it must be noted that the lower portion of the
building, represented opposite, bears no resemblance at all to the same
part of an Assyrian palace, since in it perpendicular lines prevail,
whereas, in the Assyrian palaces, the lower hues were almost wholly
horizontal; and that it is not even Certain that the upper portion,
where the pillars occur, is an arrangement for admitting light, since it
may be merely an ornamentation.

The difficulties attaching to every theory of roofing and lighting which
places the whole of an Assyrian palace under covert, has led some to
suggest that the system actually adopted in the larger apartments was
that _hypoethral_ one which is generally believed to have prevailed in
the Greek temples, and which was undoubtedly followed in the ordinary
Roman house. Mr. Layard was the first to post forward the view that the
larger halls, at any rate, were uncovered, a projecting ledge,
sufficiently wide to afford shelter and shade, being carried round the
four sides of the apartment while the centre remained open to the sky.
The objections taken to this view are--first, that far too much heat and
light would thereby have been admitted into the palace; secondly, that
in the rainy season far too much rain would have come in for comfort;
and, thirdly, that the pavement of the halls, being mere sun-dried
brick, would, under such circumstances, have been turned into mud. If
these objections are not removed, they would be, at any rate, greatly
lessened by supposing the roofing to have extended to two-thirds or
three-fourths of the apartment, and the opening to have been
comparatively narrow. We may also suppose that on very bright and on
very rainy days carpets or other awnings were stretched across the
opening, which furnished a tolerable defence against the weather.

On the whole, our choice seems to lie--so far as the great halls are
concerned--between this theory of the mode in which they were roofed and
lighted, and a supposition from which archaeologists have hitherto
shrunk, namely, that they were actually spanned from side to side by
beams. If we remember that the Assyrians did not content themselves with
the woods produced in their own country, but habitually cut timber in
the forests of distant regions, as, for instance, of Amanus, Hermon, and
Lebanon, which they conveyed to Nineveh, we shall perhaps not think it
impassible that they may have been able to accomplish the feat of
roofing in this simple fashion even chambers of thirteen or fourteen
yards in width. Mr. Layard observes that rooms of almost equal width
with the Assyrian halls are to this day covered in with beams laid
horizontally from side to side in many parts of Mesopotamia, although
the only timber used is that furnished by the indigenous palms and
poplars. May not more have been accomplished in this way by the Assyrain
architects, who had at their disposal the lofty firs and cedars of the
above mentioned regions?

If the halls were roofed in this way, they may have been lighted by
_louvres_; or the upper portion of the walls, which is now destroyed,
may have been pierced by windows, which are of frequent occurrence, and
seem generally to be some-what high placed, in the representations of
buildings upon the sculptures. [PLATE XLVII Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: PLATE 47]

It might have been expected that the difficulties with respect to
Assyrian roofing and lighting which have necessitated this long
discussion, would have received illustration, or even solution, from the
forms of buildings which occur so frequently on the bas-reliefs. But
this is not found to be the actual result. The forms are rarely
Assyrian, since they occur commonly in the sculptures which represent
the foreign campaigns of the kings; and they have the appearance of
being to a great extent conventional, being nearly the same, whatever
country is the object of attack. In the few cases where there is ground
for regarding the building as native and not foreign, it is never
palatial, but belongs either to sacred or to domestic architecture. Thus
the monumental representations of Assyrian buildings which have come
down to us, throw little or no light on the construction of their
palaces. As, however, they have an interest of their own, and will serve
to illustrate in some degree the domestic and sacred architecture of the
people, some of the most remarkable of them will be here introduced.

[Illustration: PLATE 48]

The representation No. I. is from a slab at Khorsabad. [PLATE XLVII.,
Fig. 4.] It is placed on the summit of a hill, and is regarded by M.
Botta as an altar. No. II. is from the same slab. [PLATE XLIX., Fig. 1.]
It stands at the foot of the hill crowned by No. I. It has been called a
"fishing pavilion;" but it is most probably a small temple, since it
bears a good deal of resemblance to other representations which are
undoubted temples, as (particularly) to No. V. No. III., which is from
Lord Aberdeen's black stone, is certainly a temple, since it is
accompanied by a priest, a sacred tree, and an ox for sacrifice. [PLATE
XLIX., Fig. 2.] The representation No. IV. is also thought to be a
temple. [PLATE XLIX., Fig. 3.] It is of earlier date than any of the
others, being taken from a slab belonging to the North-west Palace at
Nimrud, and is remarkable in many ways. First, the want of symmetry is
curious, and unusual. Irregular as are the palaces of the Assyrian
kings, there is for the most part no want of regularity in their sacred
buildings. The two specimens here adduced (No. II. and No. III.) are
proof of this; and such remains of actual temples as exist are in
accordance with the sculptures in this particular. The right-hand aisle
in No. IV., having nothing correspondent to it on the other side, is
thus an anomaly in Assyrian architecture. The patterning of the pillars
with chevrons is also remarkable; and their capitals are altogether
unique. No. V. is a temple of a more elaborate character. [PLATE XLIX.,
Fig. 4.] It is from the sculptures of Asshur-banipal, the son of
Esar-haddon, and possesses several features of great interest. The body
of the temple is a columnar structure, exhibiting at either corner a
broad pilaster surmounted by a capital composed of two sets of volutes
placed one over the other. Between the two pilasters are two pillars
resting upon very extraordinary rounded bases, and crowned by capitals
not unlike the Corinthian. We might have supposed the bases mere
figments of the sculptor, but for an independent evidence of the actual
employment by the Assyrians of rounded pillar-bases. Mr. Layard
discovered at Koyunjik a set of "circular pedestals," whereof he gives
the representation which is figured. [PLATE LI., Fig. 1.] They appeared
to form part of a double line of similar objects, extending from the
edge of the platform to an entrance of the palace, and probably (as Mr.
Layard suggests) supported the wooden pillars of a covered way by which
the palace was approached on this side. Above the pillars the temple
(No. V.) exhibits a heavy cornice or entablature projecting
considerably, and finished at the top with a row of gradines. (Compare
No. II.) At one side of this main building is a small chapel or oratory,
also finished with gradines, against the wall of which is a
representation of a king, standing in a species of frame arched at the
top. A road leads straight up to this royal tablet, and in this road
within a little distance of the king stands an altar. The temple
occupies the top of a mound, which is covered with trees of two
different kinds, and watered by rivulets. On the right is a "hanging
garden," artificially elevated to the level of the temple by means of
masonry supported on an arcade, the arch here used being not the round
arch but a pointed one. No. VI. [PLATE L.] is unfortunately very
imperfect, the entire upper portion having been lost. Even, however, in
its present mutilated state it represents by far the most magnificent
building that has yet been found upon the bas-reliefs. The facade, as it
now stands, exhibits four broad pilasters and four pillars, alternating
in pairs, excepting that, as in the smaller temples, pilasters occupy
both corners. In two cases, the base of the pilaster is carved into the
figure of a winged bull, closely resembling the bulls which commonly
guarded the outer gates of palaces. In the other two the base is
plain--a piece of negligence, probably, on the part of the artist. The
four pillars all exhibit a rounded base, nearly though not quite similar
to that of the pillars in No. V.; and this rounded base in every case
rests upon the back of a walking lion. We might perhaps have imagined
that this was a mere fanciful or mythological device of the artist's, on
a par with the representations at Bavian, where figures, supposed to be
Assyrian deities, stand upon the backs of animals resembling dogs. But
one of M. Place's architectural discoveries seems to make it possible,
or even probable, that a real feature in Assyrian building is here
represented M. Place found the arch of the town gateway which he exhumed
at Khorsabad to spring from the backs of the two bulls which guarded it
on either side. Thus the lions at the base of the pillars may be real
architectural forms, as well as the winged bulls which support the
pilasters. The lion was undoubtedly a sacred animal, emblematic of
divine power, and especially assigned to Nergal, the Assyrian Mars, the
god at once of war and of hunting. His introduction on the exteriors of
buildings was common in Asia Minor but no other example occurs of his
being made to support a pillar, excepting in the so-called Byzantine
architecture of Northern Italy.

[Illustration: PLATE 49]

[Illustration: PLATE 50]

[Illustration: PLATE 51]

[Illustration: PLATE 52]

No. VII. _a_ [PLATE LII., Fig. 1] introduces us to another kind of
Assyrian temple, or perhaps it should rather be said to another feature
of Assyrian temples--common to them with Babylonian--the tower or
ziggurat. This appears to have been always built in stages, which
probably varied in number--never, how-ever, so far as appears, exceeding
seven. The sculptured example before us, which is from a bas-relief
found at Koyunjik, distinctly exhibits four stages, of which the
topmost, owing to the destruction of the upper portion of the tablet, is
imperfect. It is not unlikely that in this instance there was above the
fourth a fifth stage, consisting of a shrine like that which at Babylon
crowned the great temple of Belus. The complete elevation would then
have been nearly as in No. VII. _b_. [PLATE XLI., Fig. 3.]

The following features are worth of remark in this temple. The basement
story is panelled with indented rectangular recesses, as was the ease at
Nimrud [PLATE LIII.] and at the Birs the remainder are plain, as are
most of the stages in the Birs temple. Up to the second of these squared
recesses on either side there runs what seems to be a road or path,
which sweeps away down the hill whereon the temple stands in a bold
curve, each path closely matching the other. The whole building is
perfectly symmetrical, except that the panelling is not quite uniform in
width nor arranged quite regularly. On the second stage, exactly in the
middle, there is evidently a doorway, and on either side of it a shallow
buttress or pilaster. In the centre of the third story, exactly over the
doorway of the second, is a squared niche. In front of the temple, but
not exactly opposite its centre, may be seen the _prophylaea,_
consisting of a squared doorway placed under a battlemented wall,
between two towers also battlemented. It is curious that the paths do
not lead to the propylaea, but seen to curve round the hill.

[Illustration: PLATE 53]

Remains of _ziggurats_ similar to this have been discovered at
Khorsabad, at Nimrud, and at Kileh-Sherghat. The conical mound at
Khorsabad explored by M. Place was found to contain a tower in seven
stages; that of Nimrud, which is so striking an object from the plain,
and which was carefully examined by Mr. Layard, presented no positive
proof of more than a single stage; but from its conical shape, and from
the general analogy of such towers, it is believed to have had several
stages. [PLATE LII., Fig. 2.] Mr. Layard makes their number five, and
crowns the fifth with a circular tower terminating in a heavy cornice;
but for this last there is no authority at all, and the actual number of
the stages is wholly uncertain. The base of this ziggurat was a square,
167 feet 6 inches each way, composed of a solid mass of sun-dried brick,
faced at bottom to the height of twenty feet with a wall of hewn stones,
more than eight feet and a half in thickness. The outer stones were
bevelled at the edges, and on the two most conspicuous sides the wall
was ornamented with a series of shallow recesses arranged without very
much attention to regularity. The other two sides, one of which abutted
on and was concealed by the palace mound, while the other faced towards
the city, were perfectly plain. At the top of the stone masonry was a
row of gradines, such as are often represented in the sculptures as
crowning an edifice. Above the stone masonry the tower was continued at
nearly the same width, the casing of stone being simply replaced by one
of burnt brick of inferior thickness. It is supposed that the upper
stages were constructed in the same way. As the actual present height of
the ruin is 140 feet, and the upper stages have so entirely crumbled
away, it can scarcely be supposed that the original height fell much
short of 200 feet.

The most curious of the discoveries made during the examination of this
building, was the existence in its interior of a species of chamber or
gallery, the true object of which still re-mains wholly unexplained.
This gallery was 100 feet long, 12 feet high, and no more than 6 feet
broad. It was arched or vaulted at top, both the side walls and the
vaulting being of sun-dried brick. [PLATE LIV., Fig. 2.] Its position
was exactly half-way between the tower's northern and southern faces,
and with these it ran parallel, its height in the tower being such that
its floor was exactly on a level with the top of the stone masonry,
which again was level with the terrace or platform whereupon the Nimrud
palaces stood. There was no trace of any way by which the gallery was
intended to be entered; its walls showed no signs of inscription,
sculpture, or other ornament; and absolutely nothing was found in it.
Mr. Layard, prepossessed with an opinion derived from several confused
notices in the classical writers, believed the tower to be a sepulchral
monument, and the gallery to be the tomb in which was originally
deposited "the embalmed body of the king." To account for the complete
disappearance, not only of the body, but of all the ornaments and
vessels found commonly in the Mesopotamian tombs, he suggested that the
gallery had been rifled in times long anterior to his visit; and he
thought that he found traces, both internally and externally, of the
tunnel by which it had been entered. But certainly, if this long and
narrow vault was intended to receive a body, it is most extraordinarily
shaped for the purpose. What other sepulchral chamber is there anywhere
of so enormous a, length? Without pretending to say what the real object
of the gallery was, we may feel tolerably sure that it was not a tomb.
The building which contained it was a temple tower, and it is not likely
that the religious feelings of the Assyrians would have allowed the
application of a religious edifice to so utilitarian a purpose.

[Illustration: PLATE 54]

Besides the ziggerat or tower, which may commonly have been surmounted
by a chapel or shrine, an Assyrian temple had always a number of
basement chambers, in one of which was the principal shrine of the god.
[PLATE LIV.,Fig. 1.] This was a square or slightly oblong recess at the
end of an oblong apartment, raised somewhat above its level; it was
paved (sometimes, if not always) with a single slab, the weight of which
must occasionally have been as much as thirty tons. One or two small
closets opened out from the shrine, in which it is likely that the
priests kept the sacerdotal garments and the sacrificial utensils.
Sometimes the cell of the temple or chamber into which the shrine opened
was reached through another apartment, corresponding to the Greek
_pronaos_. In such a case, care seems to have been taken so to arrange
the outer and inner doorways of the vestibule that persons passing by
the outer doorway should not be able to catch a sight of the shrine.
Where there was no vestibule, the entrance into the cell or body of the
temple seems to have been placed at the side, instead of at the end,
probably with the same object. Besides these main parts of a temple, a
certain number of chambers are always found, which appear to have been
priests' apartments.

The ornamentation of temples, to judge by the few specimens which
remain, was very similar to that of palaces. The great gateways were
guarded by colossal bulls or lions see [PLATE LV.], accompanied by the
usual sacred figures, and sometimes covered with inscriptions. The
entrances and some portions of the chambers were ornamented with the
customary sculptured slabs, representing here none but religious
subjects. No great proportion of the interior, however, was covered in
this way, the walls being in general only plastered and then painted
with figures or patterns. Externally, enamelled bricks were used as a
decoration wherever sculptured slabs did not hide the crude brick.

[Illustration: PLATE 55]

Much the sane doubts and difficulties beset the subjects of the roofing
and lighting of the temples as those which have been discussed already
in connection with the palaces. Though the span of the temple-chambers
is less than that of the great palace halls, still it is considerable,
sometimes exceeding thirty feet. No effort seems made to keep the
temple-chambers narrow, for their width is sometimes as much as
two-thirds of their length. Perhaps, therefore, they were hypaethral,
like the temples of the Greeks. All that seems to be certain is that
what roofing they had was of wood, which at Nimrud was cedar, brought
probably from the mountains of Syria.

Of the domestic architecture of the Assyrians we possess absolutely no
specimen. Excavation has been hitherto confined to the most elevated
portions of the mounds which mark the sites of cities, where it was
likely that remains of the greatest interest would be found. Palaces,
temples, and the great gates which gave entrance to towns, have in this
way seen the light; but the humbler buildings, the ordinary dwellings of
the people, remain buried beneath the soil, unexplored and even unsought
for. In this entire default of any actual specimen of an ordinary
Assyrian house, we naturally turn to the sculptured representations
which are so abundant and represent so many different sorts of scenes.
Even here, however, we obtain but little light. The bulk of the slabs
exhibit the wars of the kings in foreign countries, and thus place
before us foreign rather than Assyrian architecture. The processional
slabs, which are another large class, contain rarely any building at
all, and, where they furnish one, exhibit to us a temple rather than a
house. The hunting scenes, representing wilds far from the dwellings of
man, afford us, as might be expected, no help. Assyrian buildings, other
than temples, are thus most rarely placed before us. In one case,
indeed, we have an Assyrian city, which a foreign enemy is passing; but
the only edifices represented are the walls and towers of the exterior,
and the temple [No. VI., PLATE L.] whose columns rest upon lions. In one
other we seem to have an unfortified Assyrian village; and from this
single specimen we are forced to form our ideas of the ordinary
character of Assyrian houses.

It is observable here, its the first place, that the houses have no
windows, and are, therefore, probably lighted from the roof; next, that
the roofs are very curious, since, although flat in some instances, they
consist more often either of hemispherical domes, such as are still so
common in the East, or of steep and high cones, such as are but seldom
seen anywhere. Mr. Layard finds a parallel for these last in certain
villages of Northern Syria, where all the houses have conical roofs,
built of mud, which present a very singular appearance. [PLATE LVI.,
Fig. 2.] Both the domes and the cones of the Assyrian example have
evidently an opening at the top, which may have admitted as much light
into the houses as was thought necessary. The doors are of two kinds,
square at the top, and arched; they are placed commonly towards the
sides of the houses. The houses themselves seem to stand separate,
though in close juxtaposition.

[Illustration: PLATE 56]

The only other buildings of the Assyrians which appear to require some
notice are the fortified enceintes of their towns. The simplest of these
consisted of a single battlemented wall, carried in lines nearly or
quite straight along the four sides of the place, pierced with gates,
and guarded at the angles, at the gates, and at intervals along the
curtain with projecting towers, raised not very much higher than the
walls, and (apparently) square in shape. [PLATE LVII., Fig 1.] In the
sculptures we sometimes find the battlemented wall repeated twice or
thrice in lines placed one above the other, the intention being to
represent the defence of a city by two or three walls, such as we have
seen existed on one side of Nineveh.

[Illustration: PLATE 57]

The walls were often, if not always, guarded by moats. Internally they
were, in every case, constructed of crude brick; while externally it was
common to face them with hewn stone, either from top to bottom, or at
any rate to a certain height. At Khorsabad the stone revetement of one
portion at least of the wall was complete; at Nimrud (Calah) and at
Nineveh itself, it was partial, being carried at the former of those
places only to the height of twenty feet. The masonry at Khorsabad was
of three kinds. That of the palace mound, which formed a portion of the
outer defence, was composed entirely of blocks of stone, square-hewn and
of great size, the length of the blocks varying from two to three yards,
while the width was one yard, and the height from five to six feet.
[PLATE LVII., Fig.2.] The masonry was laid somewhat curiously. The
blocks (A A) were placed alternately long-wise and end-wise against the
crude brick (B), so as not merely to lie against it, but to penetrate it
with their ends in many places.  [PLATE LVII, Fig. 2.] Care was also
taken to make the angles especially strong, as will be seen by the
accompanying section.

The rest of the defences at Khorsabad were of an inferior character. The
wall of the town had a width of about forty-five feet, and its basement,
to the height of three feet, was constructed of stone; but the blocks
were neither so large, nor were they hewn with the same care, as those
of the palace platform. [PLATE LVII., Fig. 3.] The angles, indeed, were
of squared stone; but even there the blocks measured no more than three
feet in length and a foot in height: the rest of the masonry consisted
of small polygonal stones, merely smoothed on their outer face, and
roughly fitting together in a manner recalling the Cyclopian walls of
Greece and Italy. They were not united by any cement. Above the stone
basement was a massive structure of crude brick, without any facing
either of burnt brick or of stone.

The third kind of masonry at Khorsabad was found outside the main wall,
and may have formed either part of the lining of the moat or a portion
of a tower, which may have projected in advance of the wall at this
point. [PLATE LVIII., Fig. 1.] It was entirely of stone. The lowest
course was formed of small and very irregular polygonal blocks roughly
fitted together; above this came two courses of carefully squared stones
more than a foot long, but less than six inches in width, which were
placed end-wise, one over the other, care being taken that the joints of
the upper tier should never coincide exactly with those of the lower.
Above these was a third course of hewn stones, somewhat smaller than the
others, which were laid in the ordinary manner. Here the construction,
as discovered, terminated; but it was evident, from the _debris_ of hewn
stones at the foot of the wall, that originally the courses had been
continued to a much greater height.

[Illustration: PLATE 58]

In this description of the buildings raised by the Assyrians it has been
noticed more than once that they were not ignorant of the use of the
arch. The old notion that the round arch was a discovery of the Roman,
and the pointed of the Gothic architecture, has gradually faded away
with our ever-increasing knowledge of the actual state of the ancient
world; and antiquarians were not, perhaps, very much surprised to learn,
by the discoveries of Mr. Layard, that the Assyrians knew and used both
kinds of arch in their constructions. Some interest, however, will
probably be felt to attach to the two questions, how they formed their
arches, and to what uses they applied them.

All the Assyrian arches hitherto discovered are of brick. The round
arches are both of the crude and of the kiln-dried material, and are
formed, in each case, of brick made expressly for vaulting, slightly
convex at top and slightly concave at bottom, with one broader and one
narrower end. The arches are of the simplest kind, being exactly
semicircular, and rising from plain perpendicular jambs. The greatest
width which any such arch has been hitherto found to span is about
fifteen feet.

The only pointed arch actually discovered is of burnt brick. The bricks
are of the ordinary shape, and not intended for vaulting. They are laid
side by side up to a certain point, being bent into a slight arch by the
interposition between them of thin wedges of mortar. The two sides of
the arch having been in this way carried up to a point where the lower
extremities of the two innermost bricks nearly touched, while a
considerable space remained between their upper extremities instead of a
key-stone, or a key-brick fitting the aperture, ordinary bricks were
placed in it longitudinally, and so the space was filled in.

[Illustration: PLATE 59]

Another mode of constructing a pointed arch seems to be intended in a
bas-relief, whereof a representation has been already given. The masonry
of the arcade in No. V. [PLATE XLIX., Fig. 4] runs (it will be seen) in
horizontal lines up to the very edge of the arch, thus suggesting a
construction common in many of the early Greek arches, where the stones
are so cut away that an arched opening is formed, though the real
constructive principle of the arch has no place in such specimens.

With regard to the uses whereto the Assyrians applied the arch, it would
certainly seem, from the evidence which we possess, that they neither
employed it as a great decorative feature, nor yet as a main principle
of construction. So far as appears, their chief use of it was for
doorways and gateways. Not only are the town gates of Khorsabad found to
have been arched over, but in the representations of edifices, whether
native or foreign, upon the bas-reliefs, the arch for doors is commoner
than the square top. It is most probable that the great palace gateways
were thus covered in, while it is certain that some of the interior
doorways in palaces had rounded tops. Besides this use of the arch for
doors and gates, the Assyrians are known to have employed it for drains,
aqueducts, and narrow chambers or galleries. [PLATE LVIII. Fig. 2.];
[PLATE LIX., Fig. 1.]

It has been suggested that the Assyrians applied the two kinds of arches
to different purposes, "thereby showing more science and discrimination
than we do in our architectural works;" that "they used the pointed arch
for underground work, where they feared great superincumbent pressure
on the apex, and the round arch above ground, where that was not to be
dreaded." [PLATE LIX., Fig. 2.] But this ingenious theory is scarcely
borne out by the facts. The round arch is employed underground in two
instances at Nimrud, besides occurring in the basement story of the
great tower, where the superincumbent weight must have been enormous.
And the pointed arch is used above ground for the aqueduct and hanging
garden in the bas-relief (see [PLATE XLIX., Fig. 4]), where the
pressure, though considerable, would not have been very extraordinary.
It would seem, therefore, to be doubtful whether the Assyrians were
really guided by any constructive principle in their preference of one
form of the arch over the other.

In describing generally the construction of the palaces and other chief
buildings of the Assyrians, it has been necessary occasionally to refer
to their ornamentation; but the subject is far from exhausted, and will
now claim, for a short space, our special attention. Beyond a doubt the
chief adornment, both of palaces and temples, consisted of the colossal
bulls and lions guarding the great gateways, together with the
sculptured slabs wherewith the walls, both internal and external, were
ordinarily covered to the height of twelve or sometimes even of fifteen
feet. These slabs and carved figures will necessarily be considered in
connection with Assyrian sculpture, of which they form the most
important part. It will, therefore, only be noted at present that the
extent of wall covered with the slabs was, in the Khorsabad palace, at
least 4000 feet, or nearly four-fifths of a mile, while in each of the
Koyunjik palaces the sculptures extended to considerably more than that

[Illustration: PLATE 60]

The ornamentation of the walls above the slabs, both internally and
externally, was by means of bricks painted on the exposed side and
covered with an enamel. The colors are for the most part somewhat pale,
but occasionally they possess some brilliancy. [PLATE LX., Fig 1.]
Predominant among the tints are a pale blue, an olive green, and a dull
yellow. White is also largely used; brown and black are not infrequent;
red is comparatively rare. The subjects represented are either such
scenes as occur upon the sculptured slabs, or else mere
patterns--scrolls, honeysuckles, chevrons, gradines, guilloches, etc. In
the scenes some attempt seems to be made at representing objects in
their natural colors. The size of the figures is small; and it is
difficult to imagine that any great effect could have been produced on
the beholder by such minute drawings placed at such a height from the
ground. Probably the most effective ornamentation of this kind was by
means of patterns, which are often graceful and striking. [PLATE LX.,

It has been observed that, so far as the evidence at present goes, the
use of the column in Assyrian architecture would seem to have been very
rare indeed. In palaces we have no grounds for thinking that they were
employed at all excepting in certain of the interior doorways, which,
being of unusual breadth, seem to have been divided into three distinct
portals by means of two pillars placed towards the sides of the opening.
The bases of these pillars were of stone, and have been found _in situ_;
their shafts and capitals had disappeared, and can only be supplied by
conjecture. In the temples, as we have seen, the use of the column was
more frequent. Its dimensions greatly varied. Ordinarily it was too
short and thick for beauty, while occasionally it had the opposite
defect, being too tall and slender. Its base was sometimes quite plain,
sometimes diversified by a few mouldings, sometimes curiously and rather
clumsily rounded (as in No. II., [PLATE LXI., Fig. 1]). The shaft was
occasionally patterned. The capital, in one instance (No. I., [PLATE
LXI., Fig. 3]), approaches to the Corinthian; in another (No. II.) it
reminds us of the Ionic; but the volutes are double, and the upper ones
are surmounted by an awkward-looking abacus. A third (No. III., [PLATE.
LXI., Fig. 2]) is very peculiar, and to some extent explains the origin
of the second. It consists of two pairs of ibex horns, placed one over
the other. With this maybe compared another (No. IV.). the most
remarkable of all, where we have first a single pair of ibex horns, and
then, at the summit, a complete figure of an ibex very graphically

[Illustration: PLATE 61]

The beauty of Assyrian patterning has been already noticed. Patterned
work is found not only on the enamelled bricks, but on stone pavement
slabs, and around arched doorways leading from one chamber to another,
where the patterns are carved with great care and delicacy upon the
alabaster. The accompanying specimen of a doorway, which is taken from
an unpublished drawing by Mr. Boutcher, is very rich and elegant, though
it exhibits none but the very commonest of the Assyrian patterns. [PLATE
LXII., Fig. 1.] A carving of a more elaborate type, and one presenting
even greater delicacy of workmanship, has been given in an earlier
portion of this chapter as an example of a patterned pavement slab.
Slabs of this kind have been found in many of the palaces, and well
deserve the attention of modern designers.

[Illustration: PLATE 62]

When the architecture of the Assyrians is compared with that of other
nations possessing about the same degree of civilization, the impression
that it leaves is perhaps somewhat disappointing. Vast labor and skill,
exquisite finish, the most extraordinary elaboration, were bestowed on
edifices so essentially fragile and perishable that no care could have
preserved them for manly centuries. Sun-dried brick, a material but
little superior to the natural clay of which it was composed,
constituted everywhere the actual fabric, which was then covered thinly
and just screened from view by a facing, seldom more than a few inches
in depth, of a more enduring and handsomer substance. The tendency of
the platform mounds, as soon as formed, must have been to settle down,
to bulge at the sides and become uneven at the top, to burst their stone
or brick facings and precipitated them into the ditch below, at the same
time disarranging and breaking up the brick pavements which covered
their surface. The weight of the buildings raised upon the monads must
have tended to hasten these catastrophes, while the unsteadiness of
their foundations and the character of their composition must have soon
had the effect of throwing the buildings themselves into disorder, of
loosening the slabs from the walls, causing the enamelled bricks to
start from their places, the colossal bulls and lions to lean over, and
the roofs to become shattered and fall in. The fact that the earlier
palaces were to a great extent dismantled by the later kings is perhaps
to be attributed, not so much to a barbarous resolve that they would
destroy the memorials of a former and a hostile dynasty, as to the
circumstance that the more ancient buildings had fallen into decay and
ceased to be habitable. The rapid succession of palaces, the fact that,
at any rate from Sargon downwards, each monarch raises a residence, or
residences, for himself, is yet more indicative of the rapid
deterioration and dilapidation (so to speak) of the great edifices.
Probably a palace began to show unmistakable symptoms of decay and to
become an unpleasant residence at the end of some twenty-five or thirty
years from the date of its completion; effective repairs were, by the
very nature of the case, almost impossible; and it was at once easier
and more to the credit of the monarch that he should raise a fresh
platform and build himself a fresh dwelling than that he should devote
his efforts to keeping in a comfortable condition the crumbling
habitation of his predecessor.

It is surprising that, under these circumstances, a new style of
architecture did not arise. The Assyrians were not, like the
Babylonians, compelled by the nature of the country in which they lived
to use brick as their chief building material. M. Botta expresses his
astonishment at the preference of brick to stone exhibited by the
builders of Khorsabad, when the neighborhood abounds in rocky hills
capable of furnishing an inexhaustible supply of the better material.
The limestone range of the Jebel Maklub is but a few miles distant, and
many out-lying rocky elevations might have been worked with still
greater facility. Even at Nineveh itself, and at Calah or Nimrud, though
the hills were further removed, stone was, in reality, plentiful. The
cliffs a little above Koyunjik are composed of a "hard sandstone," and a
part of the moat of the town is carried through "compact silicious
conglomerate." The town is, in fact, situated on "a spur of rock" thrown
off from the Jebel Dlakiub, which, terminates at the edge of the ravine
whereby Nineveh was protected on the south. Calah, too, was built on a
number of "rocky undulations," and its western wall skirts the edge of
"conglomerate" cliffs, which have been scarped by the hand of man. A
very tolerable stone was thus procurable on the actual sites of these
ancient cities; and if a better material had been wanted, it might have
been obtained in any quantity, and of whatever quality was desired, from
the Zagros range and its outlying rocky barriers. Transport could
scarcely have caused much difficulty, as the blocks might have been
brought from the quarries where they were hewn to the sites selected for
the cities by water-carriage--a mode of transport well known to the
Assyrians, as is made evident to us by the bas-reliefs. (See [PLATE
LXII. Fig. 2.])

If the best possible building material was thus plentiful in Assyria,
and its conveyance thus easy to manage, to what are we to ascribe the
decided preference shown for so inferior a substance as brick? No
considerable difficulty can have been experienced in quarrying the stone
of the country, which is seldom very hard, and which was, in fact, cut
by the Assyrians, whenever they had any sufficient motive for removing
or making use of it. One answer only can be reasonably given to the
question. The Assyrians had learnt a certain style of architecture in
the alluvial Babylonia, and having brought it with them into A country
far less fitted for it, maintained it from habit, not withstanding its
unsuitableness. In some few respects, indeed, they made a slight change.
The abundance of stone in the country induced them to substitute it in
several places where in Babylonia it was necessary to use burnt brick,
as in the facings of platforms and of temples, in dams across streams,
in pavements sometimes, and universally in the ornamentation of the
lover portions of palace and temple walls. But otherwise they remained
faithful to their architectural traditions, and raised in the
comparatively hilly Assyria the exact type of building which nature and
necessity had led them to invent and use in the flat and stoneless
alluvium where they had had their primitive abode. As platforms were
required both for security and for comfort in the lower region, they
retained them, instead of choosing natural elevations in the upper one.
As clay was the only possible material in the one place, clay was still
employed, notwithstanding the abundance of stone, in the other. Being
devoid of any great inventive genius, the Assyrians found it easier to
maintain and slightly modify a system with which they had been familiar
in their original country than to devise a new one more adapted to the
land of their adoption.

Next to the architecture of the Assyrians, their mimetic art seems to
deserve attention. Though the representations in the works of Layard and
Botta, combined with the presence of so many specimens in the great
national museums of London and Paris, have produced a general
familiarity with the subject, still, as a connected view of it in its
several stages and branches is up to the present time a desideratum in
our literature, it may not be superfluous here to attempt a brief
account of the different classes into which their productions in this
kind of art fall, and the different eras and styles under which they
naturally range themselves.

Assyrian mimetic art consists of statues, bas-reliefs, metal-castings,
carvings in ivory, statuettes in clay, enamellings on brick, and
intaglios on stones and gems.

[Illustration: PLATE 63]

Assyrian statues are comparatively rare, and, when they occur, are among
the least satisfactory of this people's productions. They are coarse,
clumsy, purely formal in their design, and generally characterized by an
undue flatness, or want of breadth in the side view, as if they were
only intended to be seen directly in front. Sometimes, however, this
defect is not apparent. A sitting statue in black basalt, of the size of
life, representing an early king, which Mr. Layard discovered at
Kileh-Sherghat [PLATE LXIII, Fig. 1], and which is now in the British
Museum, may be instanced as quite free from this disproportion. It is
very observable, however, in another of the royal statues recently
recovered [PLATE LXIII, Fig. 2], as it is also in the monolith bulls
and lions universally. Otherwise, the proportions of the figures are
commonly correct. They bear a resemblance to the archaic Greek,
especially to that form of it which we find in the sculptures from
Branchidae. They have just the same rudeness, heaviness, and stiff
formality. It is difficult to judge of their execution, as they have
mostly suffered great injury from the hand of man, or from the weather;
but the royal statue here represented, which is in better preservation
than any other Assyrian work "in the round" that has come down to us,
exhibits a rather high finish. It is smaller than life, being about
three and a half feet high: the features are majestic, and well marked;
the hair and beard are elaborately curled; the arms and hands are well
shaped, and finished with care. The dress is fringed elaborately, and
descends to the ground, concealing all the lower part of the figure. The
only statues recovered besides these are two of the god Nebo, brought
from Nimrud, a mutilated one of Ishtar, or Astarte, found at Koyunjik
[PLATE LXIII., Fig. 3], and a tolerably perfect one of Sargon, which was
discovered at Idalium, in the island of Cyprus.

The clay statuettes of the Assyrians possess even less artistic merit
than their statues. They are chiefly images of gods or genii, and have
most commonly something grotesque in their appearance. Among the most
usual are figures which represent either Mylitta (Bettis), or Ishtar.
They are made in a fine terra cotta, which has turned of a pale red in
baking, and are colored with a cretaceous coating, so as greatly to
resemble Greek pottery. Another type is that of an old man, bearded, and
with hands clasped, which we may perhaps identify with Nebo, the
Assyrian Mercury, since his statues in the British Museum have a
somewhat similar character. Other forms are the fish-god Nin, or Nin-ip
[PLATE LXIV., Fig. 1]; and the deities, not yet identified, which were
found by M. Botta under the pavement-bricks at Khorsahad. [PLATE LXIV.,
Fig. 2.] These specimens have the formal character of the statues, and
are even more rudely shaped. Other examples, which carry the grotesque
to an excess, appear to have been designed with greater spirit and
freedom. Animal and human forms are sometimes intermixed in them; and
while it cannot be denied that they are rude and coarse, it must be
allowed, on the other hand, that they possess plenty of vigor. M. Botta
has engraved several specimens, including two which have the hind legs
and tail of a bull, with a human neck and arms, the head bearing the
usual horned cap.

[Illustration: PLATE 64]

Small figures of animals in terra cotta have also been found. They
consist chiefly of dogs and ducks. A representation of each has been
given in the chapter on the productions of Assyria. The dogs discovered
are made of a coarse clay, and seem to have been originally painted.
They are not wanting in spirit; but it detracts from their merit that
the limbs are merely in relief, the whole space below the belly of the
animal being filled up with a mass of clay for the sake of greater
strength. The ducks are of a fine yellow material, and represent the
bird asleep, with its head lying along its back.

Of all the Assyrian works of art which have come down to us, by far the
most important are the bas-reliefs. It is here especially, if not
solely, that we can trace progress in style; and it is here alone that
we see the real artistic genius of the people. What sculpture in its
full form, or in the slightly modified form of very high relief, was to
the Greeks, what painting has been to modern European nations since the
time of Cimabue, that low relief was to the Assyrians--the practical
mode in which artistic power found vent among them. They used it for
almost every purpose to which mimetic art is applicable; to express
their religious feelings and ideas, to glorify their kings, to hand down
to posterity the nation's history and its deeds of prowess, to depict
home scenes and domestic occupations, to represent landscape and
architecture, to imitate animal and vegetable forms, even to illustrate
the mechanical methods which they employed in the construction of those
vast architectural works of which the reliefs were the principal
ornamentation. It is not too much to say that we know the Assyrians, not
merely artistically, but historically and ethnologically, _chiefly_
through their bas reliefs, which seem to represent to us almost the
entire life of the people.

The reliefs may be divided under five principal heads:--1, War scenes,
including battles, sieges, devastations of an enemy's country, naval
expeditions, and triumphant returns from foreign war, with the trophies
and fruits of victory; 2. Religious scenes, either mythical or real; 3.
Processions generally of tribute-bearers, bringing the produce of their
several countries to the Great King; 4. hunting and sporting scenes,
including the chase of savage animals, and of animals sought for food,
the spreading of nets, the shooting of birds, and the like; and 5.
Scenes of ordinary life, as those representing the transport and
erection of colossal bulls, landscapes, temples, interiors, gardens,

The earliest art is that of the most ancient palaces at Nimrud. It
belongs to the latter part of the tenth century before our era; the time
of Asa in Judaea, of Omri and Ahab in Samaria, and of the Sheshonks in
Egypt. It is characterized by much spirit and variety in the design, by
strength and firmness, combined with a good deal of heaviness, in the
execution, by an entire contempt for perspective, and by the rigid
preservation in almost every case, both human and animal, of the exact
profile both of figure and face. Of the illustrations already given in
the present volume a considerable number belong to this period. The
heads [PLATE XXXIII.], and the figures [PLATE XXXV.], represent the
ordinary appearance of the men, while animal forms of the time will be
found in the lion [PLATE XXV.], the ibex [PLATE XXV.], the gazelle
[PLATE XXVII.], the horse [PLATE XXXI.], and the horse and wild bull
[PLATE XXVIII.] It will be seen upon reference that the animal are very
much superior to the human forms, a characteristic which is not,
however, peculiar to the style of this period, but belongs to all
Assyrian art, from its earliest to its latest stage. A favorable
specimen of the style will be found in the lion-hunt which Mr. Layard
has engraved in his "Monuments," and of which he himself observes, that
it is "one of the finest specimens hitherto discovered of Assyrian
sculpture." in [PLATE LXIV., Fig. 3.] The composition is at once simple
and effective. The king forms the principal object, nearly in the centre
of the picture, and by the superior height of his conical head-dress,
and the position of the two arrows which he holds in the hand that draws
the bow-string, dominates over the entire composition. As he turns round
to shoot down at the lion which assails him from behind, his body is
naturally and gracefully bent, while his charioteer, being engaged in
urging his horses forward, leans naturally in the opposite direction,
thus contrasting with the main figure and balancing it. The lion
immediately behind the chariot is outlined with great spirit and
freedom; his head is masterly; the fillings up of the body, however,
have too much conventionality. As he rises to attack the monarch, he
conducts the eye up to the main figure, while at the same time by this
attitude his principal lines form a pleasing contrast to the predominant
perpendicular and horizontal lines of the general composition. The dead
lion in front of the chariot balances the living one behind it, and,
with its crouching attitude, and drooping head and tail, contrasts
admirably with the upreared form of its fellow. Two attendants, armed
with sword and shield, following behind the living lion, serve to
balance the horses drawing the chariot, without rendering the
composition too symmetrical. The horses themselves are the weakest part
of the picture; the forelegs are stiff and too slight, and the heads
possess little spirit.

It is seldom that designs of this early period can boast nearly so much
merit. The religious and processional pieces are stiff in the extreme;
the battle scenes are overcrowded and confused; the hunting' scenes are
superior to these, but in general they too fall far below the level of
the above-described composition.

[Illustration: PLATE 65]

The best drawing of this period is found in the figures forming the
patterns or embroidery of dresses. The gazelle, the ibex, the horse, and
the horseman hunting the wild bull of which representations have been
given, are from ornamental work of this kind. They are favorable
specimens perhaps; but, still, they are representative of a considerable
class. Some examples even exceed these in the freedom of their outline,
and the vigorous action which they depict, as, for instance, the man
seizing a wild bull by the horn and foreleg, which is figured. [PLATE
LXV., Fig. 1.] In general, however, there is a tendency in these early
drawings to the grotesque. Lions and bulls appear in absurd attitudes;
hawk-headed figures in petticoats threaten human-headed lions with a
mace or a strap, sometimes holding them by a paw, sometimes grasping
then round the middle of the tail [PLATE LXV. Fig. 2]; priests hold up
ibexes at arm's length by one of their hindlegs, so that their heads
trail upon the ground; griffins claw after antelopes, or antelopes toy
with winged lions; even in the hunting scenes, which are less simply
ludicrous, there seems to be an occasional striving after strange and
laughable attitudes, as when a stricken bull tumbles upon his head, with
his tail tossed straight in the air [PLATE LXV., Fig. 31], or when a
lion receives his death-wound with arms outspread, and mouth wildly
agape. [PLATE LXVI., Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: PLATE 66]

The second period of Assyrian mimetic art extends from the latter part
of the eighth to nearly the middle of the seventh century before our
era; or, more exactly, from about B.C. 721 to B.C. 667. It belongs to
the reigns of the three consecutive kings--Sargon, Sennacherib, and
Esar-haddon, who were contemporary with Hezekiah and Manasseh in Judaea,
and with the Sabacos (Shebeks) and Tirhakah (Tehiak) in Egypt. The
sources which chiefly illustrate this period are the magnificent series
of engravings published by MM. Flandin and Botta, together with the
originals of a certain portion of them in the Louvre; the engravings in
Mr. Layard's first folio work, from plate 68 to 83; those in his second
folio work from plate 7 to 44, and from plate 50 to 56; the originals of
many of these in the British Museum; several monuments procured for the
British Museum by Mr. Loftus; and a series of unpublished drawings by
Mr. Boutcher in the same great national collection.

The most obvious characteristic of this period, when we compare it with
the preceding one, is the advance which the artists have made in their
vegetable forms, and the pre-Raphaelite accuracy which they affect in
all the accessories of their representations. In the bas-reliefs of the
first period we have for the most part no backgrounds. Figures alone
occupy the slabs, or figures and buildings. In some few instances water
is represented in a very rude fashion; and once or twice only do we meet
with trees, which, when they occur, are of the poorest and strangest
character. (See [PLATE LXVI., Fig. 1.]) In the second period, on the
contrary, backgrounds are the rule, and slabs without them form the
exception. The vegetable forms are abundant and varied, though still
somewhat too conventional. Date-palms, firs, and vines are delineated
with skill and spirit; other varieties are more difficult to recognize.
[PLATE LXVI., Fig. 3.] The character of the countries through which
armies march is almost always given--their streams, lakes, and rivers,
their hills and mountains, their trees, and in the case of marshy
districts, their tall reeds. At the same time, animals in the wild state
are freely introduced without their having any bearing on the general
subject of the picture. The water teems with fish, and, where the sea is
represented, with crabs, turtle, star-fish, sea-serpents, and other
monsters. The woods are alive with birds; wild swine and stags people
the marshes. Nature is evidently more and more studied; and the artist
takes a delight in adorning the scenes of violence, which he is forced
to depict, with quiet touches of a gentle character--rustics fishing or
irrigating their grounds, fish disporting themselves, birds flying from
tree to tree, or watching the callow young which look up to them from
the nest for protection.

In regard to human forms, no great advance marks this period. A larger
variety in their attitudes is indeed to be traced, and a greater energy
and life appears in most of the figures; but there is still much the
same heaviness of outline, the same over-muscularity, and the same
general clumsiness and want of grace. Animal forms show a much more
considerable improvement. Horses are excellently portrayed, the
attitudes being varied, and the heads especially delineated with great
spirit. Mules and camels are well expressed, but have scarcely the vigor
of the horses. Horned cattle, as oxen, both with and without humps,
goats, and sheep are very skilfully treated, being represented with much
character, in natural yet varied attitudes, and often admirably grouped.

[Illustration: PLATE 67]

[Illustration: PLATE 68]

The composition during this period is more complicated and more
ambitious than during the preceding one; but it may be questioned
whether it is so effective. No single scene of the time can compare for
grandeur with the lion-hunt above described. The battles and siege are
spirited, but want unity; the hunting scenes are comparatively tame; the
representations of the transport of colossal bulls possess more interest
than artistic merit. On the other hand, the manipulation is decidedly
superior; the relief is higher, the outline is more flowing, the finish
of the features more delicate. What is lost in grandeur of composition
is, on the whole, more than made up by variety, naturalness, improved
handling, and higher finish.

The highest perfection of Assyrian art is in the third period, which
extends from B.C. 667 to about B.C. 640. It synchronizes with the reign
of Asshur-bani-pal, the son of Essarhaddon, who appears to have been
contemporary with Gyges in Lydia, and with Psammetichus in Egypt. The
characteristics of the time are a less conventional type in the
vegetable forms, a wonderful freedom spirit, and variety in the forms of
animals, extreme minuteness and finish in the human figures, and a
delicacy in the handling considerably beyond that of even the second or
middle period. The sources illustrative of this stage of the art consist
of the plates in Mr. Layard's "Second Series of Monuments," from plate
45 to 49, the originals of these in the British Museum, the noble series
of slabs obtained by Mr. Loftus from the northern palace of Koyunjik,
and of the drawings made from them, and from other slabs, which were in
a more damaged condition by Mr. Boutcher, who accompanied Mr. Loftus in
the capacity of artist.

Vegetable forms are, on the whole, somewhat rare. The artists have
relinquished the design of representing scenes with perfect
truthfulness, and have recurred as a general rule to the plain
backgrounds of the first period. This is particularly the case in the
hunting scenes, which are seldom accompanied by any landscape
whatsoever. In processional and military scenes landscape is introduced,
but sparingly; the forms, for the most part, resembling those of the
second period. Now and then, however, in such scenes the landscape has
been made the object of special attention, becoming the prominent part,
while the human figures are accessories. It is here that an advance in
art is particularly discernible. In one set of slabs a garden seems to
be represented. Vines are trained upon trees, which may be either firs
or cypresses, winding elegantly around their stems, and on either side
letting fall their pendent branches laden with fruit. [PLATE LXVIII..
Fig. 2.] Leaves. branches, and tendrils are delineated with equal truth
and finish, a most pleasing and graceful effect being thereby produced.
Irregularly among the trees occur groups of lilies, some in bud, some in
full blow, all natural, graceful, and spirited. [PLATE LXIX., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 69]

[Illustration: PLATE 70]

It is difficult to do justice to the animal delineation of this period.
without reproducing before the eye of the reader the entire series of
reliefs and drawings which belong to it. It is the infinite variety in
the attitudes, even more than the truth and naturalness of any
particular specimens, that impresses us as we contemplate the series.
Lions, wild asses, dogs, deer, wild goats, horses, are represented in
profusion: and we scarcely find a single form which is repeated. Some
specimens have been already given, as the hunted stag and hind [PLATE
XXVII.] and the startled wild ass [PLATE XXVI.] Others will occur among
the illustrations of the next chapter. For the present it may suffice to
draw attention to the spirit of the two falling asses in the
illustration [PLATE LXIX., Fig. 3], and of the crouching lion in the
illustration [PLATE LXIX., Fig. 2]; to the lifelike force of both ass and
hounds in the representation [PLATE LXX., Fig. 1], and here particularly
to the bold drawing of one of the dogs' heads in full, instead of in
profile--a novelty now first occurring in the bas-reliefs. As instances
of still bolder attempts at unusual attitudes, and at the same time of a
certain amount of foreshortening, two further illustrations are
appended. The sorely wounded lion in the first [PLATE LXX., Fig. 2]
turns his head piteously towards the cruel shaft, while he totters to
his fall, his limbs failing him, and his eyes beginning to close. The
more slightly stricken king of beasts in the second [PLATE LXXI.], urged
to fury by the smart of his wound, rushes at the chariot whence the
shaft was sped, and in his mad agony springs upon a wheel, clutches it
with his two fore-paws, and frantically grinds it between his teeth.
Assyrian art, so far as is yet known, has no finer specimen of animal
drawing than this head, which may challenge comparison with anything of
the kind that either classic or modern art has produced.

[Illustration: PLATE 71]

[Illustration: PLATE 72]

As a specimen at once of animal vigor and of the delicacy and finish of
the workmanship in the human forms of the time, a bas-relief of the king
receiving the spring of a lion, and shooting an arrow into his mouth,
while a second lion advances at a rapid pace a little behind the first,
may be adduced. (See [PLATE LXXII.]) The boldness of the composition,
which represents the first lion actually in mid-air, is remarkable; the
drawing of the brute's fore-paws, expanded to seize his intended prey,
is lifelike and very spirited, while the head is massive and full of
vigor. There is something noble in the calmness of the monarch
contrasted with the comparative eagerness of the attendant, who
stretches forward with shield and spear to protect has master from
destruction, if the arrow fails. The head of the king is, unfortunately,
injured; but the remainder of the figure is perfect and here, in the
elaborate ornamentation of the whole dress, we have an example of the
careful finish of the time--a finish, which is so light and delicate
that it does not interfere with the general effect, being scarcely
visible at a few yards' distance.

[Illustration: PLATE 73]

The faults which still remain in this best period of Assyrian art are
heaviness and stiffness of outline in the human forms; a want of
expression in the faces, and of variety and animation in the attitudes;
and an almost complete disregard of perspective. If the worst of these
faults are anywhere overcome, it would seem to be in the land lion-hunt,
from which the noble head represented below is taken; and in the
river-hunt of the same, beast, found on a slab too much injured to be
re-moved, of which a representation is given. [PLATE LXXIII.] From what
appears to have remained of the four figures towards the prow of the
boat, we may conclude that there was a good deal of animation here. The
drawing must certainly have been less stiff than usual; and if there is
not much variety in the attitudes of the three spearmen in front, at any
rate those attitudes contrast well, both with the stillness of the
unengaged attendants in the rear, and with the animated but very
different attitude of the king.

Before the subject of Assyrian sculpture is dismissed, it is necessary
to touch the question whether the Assyrians applied color to statuary,
and, if so, in what way and to what extent. Did they, like the
Egyptians, cover the whole surface of the stone with a layer of stucco,
and then paint the sculptured parts with strong colors--red, blue,
yellow, white, and black? Or did they, like the Greeks, apply paint to
certain portions of their sculptures only, as the hair, eyes, beard and
draperies? Or finally, did they simply leave the stone in its natural
condition, like the Italians and the modern sculptors generally?

The present appearance of the sculptures is most in accordance with the
last of these three theories, or at any rate with that theory very
slightly modified by the second. The slabs now offer only the faintest
and most occasional traces of color. The evidence, however, of the
original explorers is distinct, that _at the time of discovery_ these
traces were very much more abundant. Mr. Layard observed color at Nimrud
on the hair, beard, and eyes of the figures, on the sandals and the
bows, on the tongues of the eagle-headed mythological emblems, on a
garland round the head of a winged priest(?), and on the representation
of fire in the bas-relief of a siege. At Khorsabad, MM. Botta and
Flandin found paint on the fringes of draperies, on fillets, on the
mitre of the king, on the flowers carried by the winged figures, on bows
and spearshafts, on the harness of the horses, on the chariots, on the
sandals, on the birds, and sometimes on the trees. The torches used to
fire cities, and the flames of the cities themselves, were invariably
colored red. M. Flandin also believed that he could detect, in some
instances, a faint trace of yellow ochre on the flesh and on the
background of bas-reliefs, whence he concluded that this tint was spread
over every part not otherwise colored.

It is evident, therefore, that the theory of an absence of color, or of
a very rare use of it, must be set aside. Indeed, as it is certain that
the upper portions of the palace walls, both inside and outside, were
patterned with colored bricks, covering the whole space above the slabs,
it must be allowed to be extremely improbable that at a particular line
color would suddenly and totally cease. The laws of decorative harmony
forbid such abrupt transitions; and to these laws all nations with any
taste instinctively and unwittingly conform. The Assyrian reliefs were
therefore, we may be sure, to some extent colored. The real question is,
to what extent in the Egyptian or in the classical style?

In Mr. Layard's first series of "Monuments," a preference was expressed
for what may be called the Egyptian theory. In the Frontispiece of that
work, and in the second Plate, containing the restoration of a palace
interior, the entire bas-reliefs were represented as strongly colored. A
jet-black was assigned to the hair and beards of men and of all
human-headed figures, to the manes and tails of horses, to vultures,
eagle heads, and the like: a coarse red-brown to winged lions, to human
flesh, to horses' bodies, and to various ornaments, a deep yellow to
common lions, to chariot wheels, quivers, fringes, belts, sandals, and
other portions of human apparel; white to robes, helmets, shields.
tunic's, towns, trees, etc.; and a dull blue to some of the feathers of
winged lions and genii, and to large portions of the ground from which
the sculptures stood out. This conception of Assyrian coloring, framed
confessedly on the assumption of a close analogy between the
ornamentation of Assyria and that of Egypt, was at once accepted by the
unlearned, and naturally enough was adopted by most of those who sought
to popularize the new knowledge among their countrymen. Hence the
strange travesties of Assyrian art which have been seen in so-called
"Assyrian Courts," where all the delicacy of the real sculpture has
disappeared, and the spectator has been revolted by grim figures of
bulls and lions, from which a thick layer of coarse paint has taken away
all dignity, and by reliefs which, from the same cause, have lost all
spirit and refinement.

It is sufficient objection to the theory here treated of, that it has no
solid basis of fact to rest upon. Color has only been _found_ on
portions of the bas-reliefs, as on the hair and beards of men, on
head-ornaments, to a small extent on draperies, on the harness of
horses, on sandals, weapons, birds, flowers, and the like. Neither the
flesh of men, nor the bodies of animals, nor the draperies generally,
nor the backgrounds (except perhaps at Khorsabad), present the slightest
appearance of having been touched by paint. It is inconceivable that, if
these portions of the sculptures were universally or even ordinarily
colored, the color should have so entirely disappeared in every
instance. It is moreover inconceivable that the sculptor, if he knew his
work was about to be concealed beneath a coating of paint, should have
cared to give it the delicate elaboration which is found at any rate in
the later examples. All leads to the conclusion that in Assyrian as in
classical sculpture, color was sparingly applied, being confined to such
parts as the hair, eyes, and beards of men, to the fringes of dresses,
to horse trappings, and other accessory parts of the representations. In
this way the lower part of the wall was made to harmonize sufficiently
with the upper portion, which was wholly colored, but chiefly with pale
hues. At the same time a greater distinctness was given to the scenes
represented upon the sculptured slabs, the color being judiciously
applied to disentangle human from animal figures, dress from flesh, or
human figures from one another.

The colors actually found upon the bas-reliefs are four only--red, blue,
black, and white. The red is a good bright tint, far exceeding in
brilliancy that of Egypt. On the sculptures of Khorsabad it approaches
to vermilion, while on those of Nimrud it inclines to a crimson or a
lake tint. It is found alternating with the natural stone on the royal
parasol and mitre; with blue on the crests of helmets, the trappings of
horses, on flowers, sandals, and on fillets; and besides, it occurs,
unaccompanied by any other color, on the stems and branches of trees, on
the claws of birds, the shafts of spears and arrows, bows, belts,
fillets, quivers, maces, reins, sandals, flowers, and the fringe of
dresses. It is uncertain whence the coloring matter was derived; perhaps
the substance used was the suboxide of copper, with which the Assyrians
are known to have colored their red glass.

The blue of the Assyrian monuments is an oxide of copper, sometimes
containing also a trace of lead. Besides occurring in combination with
red in the cases already mentioned, it was employed to color the foliage
of trees, the plumage of birds, the heads of arrows, and sometimes
quivers, and sandals.

White occurs very rarely indeed upon the sculptures. At Khorsabad it was
not found of all; at Nimrud it was confined to the inner part of the eye
on either side of the pupil, and in this position it occurred only on
the colossal lions and bulls, and a very few other figures. On bricks
and pottery it was frequent, and their (sp.) it is found to have been
derived from tin; but it is uncertain whether the white of the
sculptures was not derived from a commoner material.

Black is applied in the sculptures chiefly to the hair, beards, and
eyebrows of men. It was also used to color the eyeballs not only of men,
but also of the colossal lions and bulls. Sometimes, when the eyeball
was thus marked, a line of black was further carried round the inner
edge of both the upper and the lower eyelid. In one place black bars
have been introduced to ornament an antelope's horns. On the older
sculptures black was also the common color for sandals, which however
were then edged with red. The composition of the black is uncertain.
Browns upon the enamelled bricks are found to have been derived from,
iron; but Mr. Layard believes the black upon the sculptures to have
been, like the Egyptian, a bone black mixed with a little gum.

The ornamental metallurgy of the Assyrians deserves attention next to
their sculpture. It is of three kinds, consisting, in the first place,
of entire figures, or parts of figures, cast in a solid shape; secondly,
of castings in a low relief; and thirdly, of embossed work wrought
mainly with the hammer, but finished by a sparing use of the graving

[Illustration: PLATE 74]

The solid castings are comparatively rare, and represented none but
animal forms. Lions, which seem to have been used as weights, occur most
frequently, [PLATE LXXIV., Fig. 1.] None are of any great size; nor have
we any evidence that the Assyrians could cast large masses of metal.
They seem to have used castings, not (as the Greeks and the moderns) for
the greater works of art, but only for the smaller. The forms of the few
casts which have come down to us are good, and are free from the
narrowness which characterizes the representations in stone.

Castings in a low relief formed the ornamentation of thrones [PLATE
LXXIV., Figs. 2, 3], stools, and sometimes probably of chariots. They
consisted of animal and human figures, winged deities, griffins, and the
like. The castings were chiefly in open-work, and were attached to the
furniture which they ornamented by means of small nails. They have no
peculiar merit, being merely repetitions of the forms with which we are
familiar from their occurrence on embroidered dresses and on the

[Illustration: PLATE 75]

The embossed work of the Assyrians is the most curious and the most
artistic portion of their metallurgy. Sometimes it consisted of mere
heads and feet of animals, hammered into shape upon a model composed of
clay mixed with bitumen. [PLATE LXXV., Figs. 1, 2.] Sometimes it
extended to entire figures, as (probably) in the case of the lions
clasping each other, so common at the ends of sword-sheaths (see [PLATE
LXXV., Fig. 3]), the human figures which ornament the sides of chairs or
stools, and the like. [PLATE. LXXV., Fig. 3.] Occasionally it was of a
less solid but at the same time of a more elaborate character. In a
palace inhabited by Sargon at Nimrud, and in close juxtaposition with a
monument certainly of his time, were discovered by Mr. Layard a number
of dishes, plates, and bowls, embossed with great taste and skill, which
are among the most elegant specimens of Assyrian art discovered during
the recent researches. Upon these were represented sometimes hunting
scenes, sometimes combats between griffins and lions, or between men and
lions, sometimes landscapes with trees and figures of animals, sometimes
mere rows of animals following one another. One or two representations
from these bowls have been already given. They usually contain a star or
scarab in the centre, beyond which is a series of bands or borders,
patterned most commonly with figures. [PLATE LXXVI., Fig 1.] It is
impossible to give an adequate idea of the delicacy and spirit of the
drawings, or of the variety and elegance of the other patterns, in a
work of moderate dimensions like the present. Mr. Layard, in his Second
Series of "Monuments," has done justice to the subject by pictorial
representation, while in his "Nineveh and Babylon" he has described the
more important of the vessels separately. The curious student will do
well to consult these two works, after which he may examine with
advantage the originals in the British Museum.

[Illustration: PLATE 76]

One of the most remarkable features observable in this whole series of
monuments, is its semi-Egyptian character. The occurrence of the scarab
has been just noticed. It appears on the bowls frequently, as do
sphinxes of an Egyptian type; while sometimes heads and head-dresses
purely Egyptian are found, as in [PLATE LXXVI., Fig. 2], which are
well-known forms, and have nothing Assyrian about them and in one or two
instances we meet with hieroglyphics, the _onk_ (or symbol of life),

[Illustration: _onk_ on page 223]

the ibis, etc. These facts may seem at first sight to raise a great
question namely, whether, afterall, the art of the Assyrians was really
of home growth, or was not rather imported from the Egyptians, either
directly or by way of Phoenicia. Such a view has been sometimes taken;
but the most cursory study of the Assyrian remains _in chronological
order_, is sufficient to disprove the theory, since it will at once show
that the earliest specimens of Assyrian art are the most un-Egyptian in
character. No doubt there are certain analogies even here, as the
preference for the profile, the stiffness and formality, the ignorance
or disregard of perspective, and the like; but the analogies are exactly
such as would be tolerably sure to occur in the early efforts of any two
races not very dissimilar to one another, while the little resemblances
which alone prove connection, are entirely wanting. These do not appear
until we come to monuments which belong to the time of Sargon, when
direct connection between Egypt and Assyria seems to have begun, and
Egyptian captives are known to have been transported into Mesopotamia in
large numbers. It has been suggested that the entire series of Nimrud
vessels is Phoenician, and that they were either carried off as spoil
from Tyre and other Phoenician towns, or else were the workmanship of
Phoenician captives removed into Assyria from their own country. The
Sidonians and their kindred were, it is remarked, the most renowned
workers in metal of the ancient world, and their intermediate position
between Egypt and Assyria may, it is suggested, have been the cause of
the existence among them of a mixed art, half Assyrian, half Egyptian.
The theory is plausible; but upon the whole it seems mere consonant with
all the facts to regard the series in question as in reality Assyrian,
modified from the ordinary style by an influence derived from Egypt.
Either Egyptian artificers--captives probably--may have wrought the
bowls after Assyrian models, and have accidentally varied the common
forms, more or less, in the direction which was natural to them from old
habits; or Assyrian artificers, acquainted with the art of Egypt, and
anxious to improve their own from it, may have consciously adopted
certain details from the rival country. The workmanship, subjects, and
mode of treatment, are all, it is granted, "more Assyrian than
Egyptian," the Assyrian character being decidedly more marked than in
the case of the ivories which will be presently considered; yet even in
that case the legitimate conclusions seems to be that the specimens are
to be regarded as native Assyrian, but as produced abnormally, under a
strong foreign influence.

The usual material of the Assyrian ornamental metallurgy is bronze,
composed of one part of tin to ten of copper which are exactly the
proportions considered to be best by the Greeks and Romans, and still in
ordinary use at the present day. In some instances, where more than
common strength was required, as in the legs of tripods and tables, the
bronze was ingeniously cast over an inner structure of iron. This
practice was unknown to modern metallurgists until the discovery of the
Assyrian specimens, from which it has been successfully imitated.

We may presume that, besides bronze, the Assyrians used, to a certain
extent, silver and gold as materials for ornamental metal-work. The
earrings, bracelets, and armlets worn by the kings and the great
officers of state were probably of the more valuable metal, while the
similar ornaments worn by those of minor may have been of silver. [PLATE
LXXVI., Fig. 3.] One solitary specimen only of either class has been
found; but Mr. Layard discovered several moulds, with tasteful designs
for earrings, both at Nimrud and at Koyunjik; and the sculptures show
that both in these and the other personal ornaments a good deal of
artistic excellence was exhibited. The earrings are frequent in the form
of a cross, and are sometimes delicately chased. The armlets and
bracelets generally terminate in the heads of rams or bulls, which seem
to have been rendered with spirit and taste.

[Illustration: PLATE 77]

[Illustration: PLATE 78]

By one or two instances it appears that the Assyrians knew how to inlay
one metal with another. [PLATE LXXVI, Fig. 5.] The specimens discovered
are scarcely of an artistic character, being merely winged scarabaei,
outlined in gold on a bronze ground [PLATE LXXVI., Fig. 4.] The work,
however, is delicate, and the form very much more true to nature than
that which prevailed in Egypt.

The ivories of the Assyrians are inferior both to their metal castings
and to their bas-reliefs. They consist almost entirely of a single
series, discovered by Mr. Layard in a chamber of the North-West Palace
at Nimrud, in the near vicinity of slabs on which was engraved the name
of Sargon. The most remarkable point connected with them is the
thoroughly Egyptian character of the greater number which at first sight
have almost the appearance of being importations from the valley of the
Nile. Egyptian profiles, head-dresses, fashions of dressing the hair,
ornaments, attitudes, meet us at every turn; while sometimes we find the
representations of Egyptian gods, and in two cases hieroglyphics within
cartouches. (See [PLATE LXXVIII.]) A few specimens only are of a
distinctly Assyrian type, as a fragment of a panel, figured by Mr.
Layard [PLATE LXXVII., Fig. 1], and one or two others, in which the
guilloche border appears. These carvings are usually mere low reliefs,
occupying small panels or tablets, which were mortised or glued to the
woodwork of furniture. They were sometimes inlaid in parts with blue
grass, or with blue and green pastes let into the ivory, and at the same
time decorated with gilding. Now and then the relief is tolerably high,
and presents fragments of forms which seem to have had some artistic
merit. The best of these is the fore part of a lion walking among reeds
(p. 373), which presents analogies with the early art of Asia Minor.
[PLATE LXXVII., Fig. 3.] One or two stags' heads have likewise been
found, designed and wrought with much spirit and delicacy. [PLATE
LXXVII., Fig. 3.] It is remarked that several of the specimens show not
only a considerable acquaintance with art, but also an intimate
knowledge of the method of working in ivory. One head of a lion was "of
singular beauty," but unfortunately it fell to pieces at the very moment
of discovery.

It is possible that some of the objects here described may be actual
specimens of Egyptian art, sent to Sargon as tribute or presents, or
else carried off as plunder in his Egyptian expedition. The appearance,
however, which even the most Egyptian of them present, on a close
examination, is rather that of Assyrian works imitated from Egyptian
models than of genuine Egyptian productions. For instance, in the tablet
figured on the page opposite, where we see hieroglyphics within a
cartouche, the _onk_ or symbol of life, the solar disk, the double
ostrich-plume, the long hair-dress called _namms_, and the _tam_ or
_kukupha_ sceptre, all unmistakable Egyptian features--we observe a
style of drapery which is quite unknown in Egypt, while in several
respects it is Assyrian, or at least Mesopotamian. It is scanty, like
that of all Assyrian robed figures; striped, like the draperies of the
Chaldaeans and Babylonians: fringed with a broad fringe elaborately
colored, as Assyrian fringes are known to have been, and it has large
hanging sleeves also fringed, a fashion which appears once or twice upon
the Nimrud sculptures. [PLATE LXXVII, Fig. 4.] But if this specimen,
notwithstanding its numerous and striking Egyptian features, is rightly
regarded as Mesopotamian, it would seem to follow that the rest of the
series must still more decidedly be assigned to native genius.

[Illustration: PLATE 79]

The enamelled bricks of the Assyrians are among the most interesting
remains of their art. It is from these bricks alone that we are able to
judge at all fully of their knowledge and ideas with respect to color;
and it is from them also chiefly that an analysis has been made of the
coloring materials employed by the Assyrian artists. The bricks may be
divided into two classes--those which are merely patterned, and those
which contain designs representing men and animals. The patterned bricks
have nothing about them which is very remarkable. They present the usual
guilloches, rosettes, bands, scrolls, etc., such as are found in the
painted chambers and in the ornaments on dresses, varied with
geometrical figures, as circles, hexagons, octagons, and the like; and
sometimes with a sort of arcade-work, which is curious, if not very
beautiful. [PLATE LXXIX., Fig. 1.] The colors chiefly used in the
patterns are pale green, pale yellow, dark brown, and white. Now and
then an intense blue and a bright red occur, generally together; but
these positive hues are rare, and the taste of the Assyrians seems to
have led them to prefer, for their patterned walls, pale and dull hues.
The same preference appears, even more strikingly, in the bricks on
which designs are represented. There the tints almost exclusively used
are pale yellow, pale greenish blue, olive green, white, and a brownish
black. It is suggested that the colors have faded, but of this there is
no evidence. The Assyrians, when they used the primitive hues, seem,
except in the case of red, to have employed subdued tints of them, and
red they appear to have introduced very sparingly. Olive-green they
affected for grounds, and they occasionally used other half-tints. A
pale orange and a delicate lilac or pale purple were found at Khorsabad,
while brown (as already observed) is far more common on the bricks than
black. Thus the general tone of their coloring is quiet, not to say
sombre. There is no striving after brilliant effects. The Assyrian
artist seeks to please by the elegance of his forms and the harmony of
his hues, not to startle by a display of bright and strongly-contrasted
colors. The tints used in a single composition vary from three to five,
which latter number they seem never to exceed. The following are the
combinations of five hues which occur: brown, green, blue, dark yellow,
and pale yellow; orange, lilac, white, yellow, and olive-green.
Combinations of four hues are much more common: e.q., red, white,
yellow, and black; deep yellow, brown lilac, white, and pale yellow;
lilac, yellow, white, and green; yellow, blue, white, and brown, and
yellow, blue, white, and olive-green. Sometimes the tints are as few as
three, the ground in these cases being generally of a hue used also in
the figures. Thus we have yellow, blue, and white on a blue ground and
again the same colors on a yellow ground. We have also the simple
combinations of white and yellow on a blue ground, and of white and
yellow on an olive-green ground.

In every ease there is at harmony in the coloring. We find no harsh
contrasts. Either the tones are all subdued, or if any are intense and
positive, then all (or almost all) are so. Intense red occurs in two
fragments of patterned bricks found by Mr. Layard. It is balanced by
intense blue, and accompanied in each case by a full brown and a clear
white, while in one case it is further accompanied by a pale green,
which has a very good effect. A similar red appears on a design figured
by M. Botta. Its accompaniments are white, black, and full yellow. Where
lilac occurs, it is balanced by its complementary color, yellow, or by
yellow and orange, and further accompanied by white. It is noticeable
also that bright hues are not placed one against the other, but are
separated by narrow bands of white, or brown and white. This use of
white gives a great delicacy and refinement to the coloring, which is
saved by it, even where the hues are the strongest, from being coarse or

The drawing of the designs resembles that of the sculptures except that
the figures are generally slimmer and less muscular. The chief
peculiarity is the strength of the outline, which is almost always
colored differently from the object drawn, either white, black, yellow,
or brown. Generally it is of a uniform thickness (as in No. I., [PLATE
LXXIX., Fig. 2]), sometimes, though rarely, it has that variety which
characterizes good drawing (as in No. II., [PLATE LXXIX Fig. 2]).
Occasionally there is a curious combination of the two styles, as in the
specimen [PLATE LXXX., Fig. 1]--the most interesting yet
discovered--where the dresses of the two main figures are coarsely
outlined in yellow, while the remainder of the design is very lightly
sketched in a brownish black.

[Illustration: PLATE 80]

The size of the designs varies considerably. Ordinarily the figures are
small, each brick containing several; but sometimes a scale has been
adopted of such a size that portions of the same figure must have been
on different bricks. A foot and leg brought by Mr. Layard from Nimrud
must have belonged to a man a foot high; while part of a human face
discovered in the same locality is said to indicate the form to which
it belonged, a height of three feet. Such a size as this is, however,
very unusual.

It is scarcely necessary to state that the designs on the bricks are
entirely destitute of _chiaroscuro_. The browns and blacks, like the
blues, yellows, and reds, are simply used to express local color. They
are employed for hair, eyes, eye-brows, and sometimes for bows and
sandals. The other colors are applied as follows: yellow is used for
flesh, for shafts of weapons, for horse trappings, sometimes for horses,
for chariots, cups, earrings bracelets, fringes, for wing-feathers,
occasionally for helmets, and almost always for the hoofs of horses;
blue is used for shields, for horses, for some parts of horse-trappings,
armor, and dresses, for fish, and for feathers; white is employed for
the inner part of the eye, for the linen shirts worn by men, for the
marking on fish and feathers, for horses, for buildings, for patterns on
dresses, for rams' heads, and for portions of the tiara of the king.
Olive-green seems to occur only as a ground; red only in some parts of
the royal tiara, orange and lilac only in the wings of winged monsters.
It is doubtful how far we may trust the colors on the bricks as
accurately or approximately resembling the real local hues. In some
cases the intention evidently is to be true to nature, as in the eyes
and hair of men, in the representations of flesh, fish, shields, bows,
buildings, etc. The yellow of horses may represent cream-color, and the
blue may stand for gray, as distinct from white, which seems to have
been correctly rendered. The scarlet and white of the king's tiara is
likely to be true. When, however, we find eyeballs and eyebrows white,
while the inner part of the eye is yellow, the blade of swords yellow,
and horses' hoofs blue we seem to have proof that, sometimes at any
rate, local color was intentionally neglected, the artist limiting
himself to certain hues, and being therefore obliged to render some
objects untruly. Thus we must not conclude front the colors of dresses
and horse trappings on the bricks which are three only, yellow, blue and
white--that the Assyrians used no other hues than those, even for the
robes of their kings. It is far more probable that they employed a
variety of tints in their apparel, but did not attempt to render that
variety on the ordinary painted bricks.

The pigments used by the Assyrians seem to have derived their tints
entirely from minerals. The opaque white is found to be oxide of tin;
the yellow is the antimoniate of lead, or Naples yellow, with a slight
admixture of tin; the blue is oxide of copper, without any cobalt; the
green is also from copper; the brown is from iron; and the red is a
suboxide of copper. The bricks were slightly baked before being painted;
they were then taken from the kiln, painted and enamelled on one side
only, the flux and glazes used being composed of silicate of soda aided
by oxide of lead; thus prepared, they were again submitted to the action
of fire, care being taken to place the painted side upwards, and having
been thoroughly baked were then ready for use.

The Assyrian intaglios on stones and gems are commonly of a rude
description; but occasionally they exhibit a good deal of delicacy, and
sometimes even of grace. They are cut upon serpentine, jasper,
chalcedony, cornelian, agate, sienite, quartz, loadstone, amazon-stone,
and lapis-lazuli. The usual form of the stone is cylindrical; the sides,
however, being either slightly convex or slightly concave, most
frequently the latter. [PLATE LXXIX., Fig. 3.] The cylinder is always
perforated in the direction of its axis. Besides this ordinary form, a
few gems shaped like the Greek--that is, either round or oval--have been
found: and numerous impressions from such gems on sealing-clay show that
they must have been a tolerably common. The subjects which occur are
mostly the same as those on the sculptures--warriors pursuing their
foes, hunters in full chase, the king slaying a lion, winged bulls
before the sacred tree, acts of worship and other religious or
mythological scenes. [PLATE LXXXI. Fig. 1.] There appears to have been a
gradual improvement in the workmanship from the earliest period to the
time of Sennacherib, when the art culminates. A cylinder found in the
ruins of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik, which is believed with reason
to have been his signet, is scarcely surpassed in delicacy of execution
by any intaglio of the Greeks. [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 1.] The design has a
good deal of the usual stiffness, though even here something may be said
for the ibex or wild-goat which stands upon the lotus flower to the
left: but the special excellence of the gem is in the fineness and
minuteness of its execution. The intaglio is not very deep but all the
details are beautifully sharp and distinct, while they are on so small a
scale that it requires a magnifying glass to distinguish them. The
material of the cylinder is translucent green felspar, or amazon-stone,
one of the hardest substances known to the lapidary.

[Illustration: PLATE 81]

The fictile art of the Assyrians in its higher branches, as employed for
directly artistic purposes, has been already considered; but a few pages
may be now devoted to the humbler divisions of the subject, where the
useful preponderates over the ornamental. The pottery of Assyria bears a
general resemblance in shape, form, and use to that of Egypt; but still
it has certain specific differences. According to Mr. Birch, it is,
generally speaking, "finer in its paste, brighter in its color, employed
in thinner masses, and for purposes not known in Egypt." Abundant and
excellent clay is furnished by the valley of the Tigris, more especially
by those parts of it which are subject to the annual inundation. The
chief employment of this material by the Assyrians was for bricks, which
were either simply dried in the sun, or exposed to the action of fire in
a kiln. In this latter case they seem to have been uniformly
slack-baked; they are light for their size, and are of a pale-red color.
The clay of which the bricks were composed was mixed with stubble or
vegetable fibre, for the purpose of holding it together--a practice
common to the Assyrians with the Egyptians and the Babylonians. This
fibre still appears in the sun-dried bricks, but has been destroyed by
the heat of the kiln in the case of the baked bricks, leaving behind it,
however, in the clay traces of the stalks or stems. The size and shape
of the bricks vary. They are most commonly square, or nearly so; but
occasionally the shape more resembles that of the ancient Egyptian and
modern English brick, the width being about half the length, and the
thickness half or two-thirds of the width. The greatest size to which
the square bricks attain is a length and width of about two feet. From
this maximum they descend by manifold gradations to a minimum of one
foot. The oblong bricks are smaller; they seldom much exceed a foot in
length, and in width vary from six to seven and a half inches. Whatever
the shape and size of the bricks, their thickness is nearly uniform, the
thinnest being as much as three inches in thickness, and the thickest
not more than four inches or four and a half. Each brick was made in a
wooden frame or mould. Most of the baked bricks were inscribed, not
however like the Chaldaean, the Egyptian, and the Babylonian, with an
inscription in a small square or oval depression near the centre of one
of the broad faces, but with one which either covered the whole of one
such face, or else ran along the edge. It is uncertain whether the
inscription was stamped upon the bricks by a single impression, or
whether it was inscribed by the potter with a triangular style. Mr.
Birch thinks the former was the means used, "as the trouble of writing
upon each brick would have been endless." Mr. Layard, however, is of a
different opinion.

In speaking of the Assyrian writing, some mention has been made of the
terra cotta cylinders and tablets, which in Assyria replaced the
parchment and papyrus of other nations, being the most ordinary writing
material in use through the country. The purity and fineness of the
material thus employed is very remarkable, as well as its strength, of
which advantage was taken to make the cylinders hollow, and thus at once
to render them cheaper and more portable. The terra cotta of the
cylinders and tablets is sometimes unglazed; sometimes the natural
surface has been covered with a "vitreous silicious glaze or white
coating." The color varies, being sometimes a bright polished brown,
sometimes a pale yellow, sometimes pink, and sometimes a very dark tint,
nearly black. The most usual color however for cylinders is pale yellow,
and for tablets light red, or pink. There is no doubt that in both these
cases the characters were impressed separately by the hand, a small
metal style of rod being used for the purpose.

[Illustration: PLATE 82]

Terra cotta vessels, glazed and unglazed, were in common use among the
Assyrians, for drinking and other domestic purposes. They comprised
vases, lamps, jugs, amphorae, saucers, jars, etc. [PLATE LXXX., Fig. 2.]
The material of the vessels is fine, though generally rather yellow in
tone. The shapes present no great novelty, being for the most part such
as are found both in the old Chaldaean tombs, and in ordinary Roman
sepulchres. Among the most elegant are the funeral urns discovered by M.
Botta at Khorsabad, which are with a small opening at top, a short and
very scanty pedestal, and two raised rings, one rather delicately
chased, by way of ornament. [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 2.] Another graceful
form is that of the large jars uncovered at Nimrud [PLATE LXXXII., Fig.
1], of which Mr. Layard gives a representation. Still more tasteful are
some of the examples which occur upon the bas-reliefs, and seemingly
represent earthen vases. Among these may be particularized a lustral
ewer resting in a stand supported by bulls' feet, which appears in front
of a temple at Khorsabad [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 3], and a wine vase (see
[PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 4]) of ample dimensions, which is found in a banquet
scene at the same place. Some of the lamps are also graceful enough, and
seem to be the prototypes out of which were developed the more elaborate
productions of the Greeks. [PLATE LXXXII., Fig. 2.] Others are more
simple, being without ornament of any kind, and nearly resembling a
modern tea-pot (see No., IV. [PLATE LXXXII., Fig. 2.]) The glazed
pottery is, for the most part, tastefully colored. An amphora, with
twisted arms, found at Nimrud (see [PLATE LXXXIII., Fig. 1]) is of two
colors, a warm yellow, and a cold bluish green. The green predominates
in the upper, the yellow in the under portion; but there is a certain
amount of blending or mottling in the mid-region, which has a very
pleasant effect. A similarly mottled character is presented by two other
amphorae from the same place, where the general hue is a yellow which
varies in intensity, and the mottling is with a violet blue. In some
cases the colors are not blended, but sharply defined by lines, as in a
curious spouted cup figured by Mr. Layard, and in several fragmentary
specimens. Painted patterns are not uncommon upon the glazed pottery,
though upon the unglazed they are scarcely ever found. The most usual
colors are blue, yellow, and white; brown, purple, and lilac have been
met with occasionally. These colors are thought to be derived chiefly
from metallic oxides, over which was laid as a glazing a vitreous
silicated substance. On the whole, porcelain of this fine kind is rare
in the Assyrian remains, and must be regarded as a material that was
precious and used by few.

[Illustration: PLATE 83]

Assyrian glass is among the most beautiful of the objects which have
been exhumed. M. Botta compared it to certain fabrics of Venice and
Bohemia, into which a number sit different colors are artificially
introduced. But a careful analysis has shown that the lovely prismatic
hues which delight us in the Assyrian specimens, varying under different
lights with all the delicacy and brilliancy of the opal, are due, not to
art, but to the wonder-working hand of time, which, as it destroys the
fabric, compassionately invests it with additional grace and beauty.
Assyrian glass was either transparent or stained with a single uniform
color. It was composed, in the usual way, by a mixture of sand or silex
with alkalis, and, like the Egyptian, appears to have been first rudely
fashioned into shape by the blowpipe. It was then more carefully shaped,
and, where necessary, hollowed out by a turning machine, the Marks of
which are sometimes still visible. The principal specimens which have
been discovered are small bottles and bowls, the former not more than
three or four inches high, the latter from four to five inches in
diameter, [PLATE LXXXIII., Fig. 4.] The vessels are occasionally
inscribed with the name of a king, as is the case in the famous vase of
Sargon, found by Mr. Layard at Nimrud, which is here figured. [PLATE
LXXXIII., Fig. 2.] This is the earliest known specimen of _transparent
glass_, which is not found in Egypt until the time of the Psammetichi.
The Assyrians used also opaque glass, which they colored, sometimes red,
with the suboxide of copper, sometimes white, sometimes of other hues.
They seem not to have been able to form masses of glass of any
considerable size; and thus the employment of the material must have
been limited to a few ornamental, rather than useful, purposes. A
curious specimen is that of a pipe or tube, honey-combed externally,
which Mr. Layard exhumed at Koyunjik, and of which the cut [PLATE
LXXXIII., Fig. 1] is a rough representation.

An object found at Nimrud, in close connection with several glass
vessels, is of a character sufficiently similar to render its
introduction in this place not inappropriate. This is a lens composed of
rock crystal, about an inch and a half in diameter, and nearly an inch
thick, having one plain and one convex surface, and somewhat rudely
shaped and polished which, however gives a tolerably distinct focus at
the distance of 4 1/2 inches from the plane side, and which may have
been used either as a magnifying glass or to concentrate the rays of the
sun. The form is slightly oval, the longest diameter being one and
six-tenths inch, the shortest one and four-tenths inch. The thickness is
not uniform, but greater on one side than on the other. The plane
surface is ill-polished and scratched, the convex one, not polished on a
concave spherical disk, but fashioned on a lapidary's wheel, or by some
method equally rude. As a burn, glass the lens has no great power; but
it magnifies fairly, and may have been of great use to those who
inscribed, or to those who sought to decipher, the royal memoirs. It is
the only object of the kind that has been found among the remains of
antiquity, though it cannot he doubled that lenses were known and were
used as burning glasses by the Greeks.

Some examples have been already given illustrating the tasteful
ornamentation of Assyrian furniture. It consisted, so far as we know, of
tables, chairs, couches, high stools, foot-stools, and stands with
shelves to hold the articles needed for domestic purposes. As the
objects themselves have in all cases ceased to exist, leaving behind
them only a few fragments, it is necessary to have recourse to the
bas-reliefs for such notices as may be thence derived of their
construction and character. In these representations the most ordinary
form of table is one in which the principal of our camp-stools seems to
be adopted, the legs crossing each other as in the illustrations [PLATE
LXXXIV.]. only two legs are represented, but we must undoubtedly regard
these two as concealing two others of the same kind at the opposite end
of the table. The legs ordinarily terminate in the feet of animals,
sometimes of bulls, but more commonly of horses. Sometimes between the
two legs we see a species of central pillar, which, however, is not
traceable below the point where the legs cross one another. The pillar
itself is either twisted or plain (see No. III., [PLATE LXXXIV.]).
Another form of table, less often met with, but simpler, closely
resembles the common table of the moderns. It has merely the necessary
flat top, with perpendicular legs at the corners. The skill of the
cabinet-makers enabled them to dispense in most instances with
cross-bars (see No. I.), which are, however, sometimes seen (see No.
II., No. III., and No. IV.), uniting the legs of this kind of tables.
The corners are often ornamented with lions' or rams' heads, and the
feet are frequently in imitation of some animal form (see No. III. and
No. IV.). Occasionally we find a representation of a three-legged table,
as the specimen [PLATE LXXXIV., Fig. 4], which is from a relief at
Koyunjik. The height of tables appears to have been greater than with
ourselves; the lowest reach easily to a man's middle; the highest are
level with the upper part of the chest.

[Illustration: PLATE 84]

Assyrian thrones and chairs were very elaborate. The throne of
Sennacherib exhibited on its sides and arms three rows of carved
figures, one above another (PLATE LXXXIV.,Fig. 3), supporting the bars
with their hands. The bars, the arms, and the back were patterned. The
legs ended in a pine-shaped ornament very common in Assyrian furniture.
Over the back was thrown an embroidered cloth hinged at the end, which
hung down nearly to the floor. A throne of Sargon's was adorned on its
sides with three human figures, apparently representations of the king,
below which was the war-horse of the monarch, caparisoned as for battle.
[PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 1.] Another throne of the same monarch's had two
large and four small figures of men at the side, while the back was
supported on either side by a human figure of superior dimensions. The
use of chairs with high backs, like these, was apparently confined to
the monarchs. Persons of less exalted rank were content to sit on seats
which were either stools, or chairs with a low back level with the arms.

[Illustration: PLATE 85]

Seats of this kind, whether thrones or chairs, were no doubt constructed
mainly of wood. The ornamental work may, however, have been of bronze,
either cast into the necessary shape, or wrought into it by the hammer.
The animal heads at the ends of arms seem to have fallen under the
latter description [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 2.] In some cases, ivory was
among the materials used: it has been found in the legs of a throne at
Koyunjik, and may not improbably have entered into the ornamentation of
the best furniture very much more generally.

The couches which we find represented upon the sculptures are of a
simple character. The body is flat, not curved; the legs are commonly
plain, and fastened to each other by a cross-bar, sometimes terminating
in the favorite pine-shaped ornament. One end only is raised, and this
usually curves inward nearly in a semicircle. [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 3.]
The couches are decidedly lower than the Egyptian; and do not, like
them, require a stool or steps in order to ascend them.

Stools, however, are used with the chairs or thrones of which mention
was made above--lofty seats, where such a support for the sitter's feet
was imperatively required. [PLATE LXXXV.. Fig. 4.] They are sometimes
plain at the sides, and merely cut _en chevron_ at the base; sometimes
highly ornamented, terminating in lions' feet supported on cones, in the
same (or in volutes), supported on balls, and otherwise adorned with
volutes, lion castings, and the like. The most elaborate specimen is the
stool (No. III.) which supports the feet of Asshur-bani-pal's queen on a
relief brought from the North Palace at Koyunjik, and now in the
National Collection. Here the upper corners exhibit the favorite
gradines, guarding and keeping in place an embroidered cushion; the legs
are ornamented with rosettes and with horizontal mouldings, they are
connected together by two bars, the lower one adorned with a number of
double volutes, and the upper one with two lions standing back to back;
the stool stands on balls, surmounted first by a double moulding, and
then by volutes.

Stands with shelves often terminate, like other articles of furniture,
in animals' feet, most commonly lions', as in the accompanying
specimens. [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 5.]

Of the embroidered robes and draperies of the Assyrians, as of their
furniture, we can judge only by the representations made of them upon
the bas-reliefs. The delicate texture of such fabrics has prevented them
from descending to our day even in the most tattered condition; and the
ancient testimonies on the subject are for the most part too remote from
the times of the Assyrians to be of much value. Ezekiel's notice is the
only one which comes within such a period of Assyria's fall as to make
it an important testimony, and even from this we cannot gather much that
goes beyond the evidence of the sculptures. The sculptures show us that
robes and draperies of all kinds were almost always more or less
patterned; and this patterning, which is generally of an extremely
elaborate kind, it is reasonable to conclude was the work of the needle.
Sometimes the ornamentation is confined to certain portions of garments,
as to the ends of sleeves and the bottoms of robes or tunics; at others
it is extended over the whole dress. This is more particularly the case
with the garments of the kings, which are of a magnificence difficult to
describe, or to represent within a narrow compass. [PLATE LXXXVI, Fig.
1.] One or two specimens, however, may be given almost at random,
indicating different styles of ornamentation usual in the royal apparel.
Other examples will be seen in the many illustrations throughout this
volume where the king is represented. It is remarkable that the earliest
representations exhibit the most elaborate types of all, after which a
reaction seems to set in simplicity is affected, which, however, is
gradually trenched upon, until at last a magnificence is reached little
short of that which prevailed in the age of the first monuments. The
draperies of Asshur-izir-pal in the north-west palace at Nimrud, are at
once more minutely labored and more tasteful than those of any later
time. Besides elegant but unmeaning patterns, they exhibit human and
animal forms, sacred trees, sphinxes, griffins, winged horses, and
occasionally bull-hunts and lion-hunts. The upper part of this king's
dress is in one instance almost covered with figures, which range
themselves round a circular breast ornament, whereof the cut opposite is
a representation. Elsewhere his apparel is less superb, and indeed it
presents almost every degree of richness, from the wonderful embroidery
of the robe just mentioned to absolute plainness. In the celebrated
picture of the lion-hunt. [PLATE LXXXVI., Fig. 2.] With Sargon, the next
king who has left many monuments, the case is remarkably different.
Sargon is represented always in the same dress--a long fringed robe,
embroidered simply with rosettes, which are spread somewhat scantily
over its whole surface. Sennacherib's apparel is nearly of the same
kind, or, if anything, richer, though sometimes the rosettes are omitted
His grandson, Asshur-bani-pal, also affects the rosette ornament, but
reverts alike to the taste and the elaboration of the early kings. He
wears a breast ornament containing human figures, around which are
ranged a number of minute and elaborate patterns. [PLATE LXXXVII.]

[Illustration: PLATE 86]

[Illustration: PLATE 87]

To this account of the arts, mimetic and other, in which the Assyrians
appear to have excelled, it might be expected that there should be added
a sketch of their scientific knowledge. On this subject, however, so
little is at present known, while so much may possibly become known
within a short time, that it seems best to omit it, or to touch it only
in the lightest and most cursory manner. When the numerous tablets now
in the British Museum shall have been deciphered, studied, and
translated, it will probably be found that they contain a tolerably full
indication of what Assyrian science really was, and it will then be seen
how far it was real and valuable, in what respects mistaken and
illusory. At present this mine is almost unworked, nothing more having
been ascertained than that the subjects whereof the tables treat are
various, and their apparent value very different. Comparative philology
seems to have been largely studied, and the works upon it exhibit great
care and diligence. Chronology is evidently much valued, and very exact
records are kept whereby the lapse of time can even now be accurately
measured. Geography and history have each an important place in Assyrian
learning; while astronomy and mythology occupy at least as great a share
of attention. The astronomical observations recorded are thought to be
frequently inaccurate, as might be expected when there were no
instruments, or none of any great value. Mythology is a very favorite
subject, and appears to be treated most fully; but hitherto cuneiform
scholars have scarcely penetrated below the surface of the mythological
tablets, baffled by the obscurity of the subject and the difficulty of
the dialect (in) which they are written.

[Illustration: PLATE 88]

On one point alone, belonging to the domain of science, do the Assyrian
representations of their life enable us to comprehend, at least to some
extent, their attainments. The degree of knowledge which this people
possessed on the subject of practical mechanics is illustrated with
tolerable fulness in the bas-reliefs, more especially in the important
series discovered at Koyunjik, where the transport of the colossal bulls
from the quarry to the palace gateways is represented in the most
elaborate detail. [PLATE LXXXVIII.] The very fact that they were able to
transport masses of stone, many tons in weight, over a considerable
space of ground, and to place then on the summit of artificial platforms
from thirty to eighty (or ninety) feet high, would alone indicate
considerable mechanical knowledge. The further fact, now made clear from
the bas-reliefs, that they wrought all the elaborate carving of the
colossi before they proceeded to raise them or put them in place, is an
additional argument of their skill, since it shows that they had no fear
of any accident happening in the transport. It appears from the
representations that they placed their colossus in a standing posture,
not on a truck or wagon of any kind, but on a huge wooden sledge, shaped
nearly like a boat, casing it with an openwork of spars or beams, which
crossed each other at right angles, and were made perfectly tight by
means of wedges. To avert the great danger of the mass toppling over
sideways, ropes were attached to the top of the casing, at the point
where the beams crossed one another, and were held taut by two parties
of laborers, one on either side of the statue. Besides these, wooden
forks or props were applied on either side to the second set of
horizontal cross-beams, held also by men whose business it would be to
resist the least inclination of the huge stone to lean to one side more
than to the other. The front of the sledge on which the colossus stood
was curved gently upwards, to facilitate its sliding along the ground,
and to enable it to rise with readiness upon the rollers, which were
continually placed before it by laborers just in front, while others
following behind gathered them up when the bulky mass had passed over
there. The motive power was applied in front by four gangs of men who
held on to four large cables, at which they pulled by means of small
ropes or straps fastened to them, and passed under one shoulder and over
the other--an arrangement which enabled them to pull by weight as much
as by muscular strength, as the annexed figure will plainly show. [PLATE
LXXXIX., Fig. 1.] The cables appear to have been of great strength, and
are fastened carefully to four strong projecting pins--two near the
front, two at the back part of the sledge, by a knot so tied that it
would be sure not to slip. [PLATE LXXXIX., Fig. 4.] Finally, as in spite
of the rollers, whose use in diminishing friction, and so facilitating
progress, was evidently well understood, and in spite of the amount of
force applied in front, it would have been difficult to give the first
impetus to so great a mass, a lever was skilfully applied behind to
raise the hind part of the sledge slightly, and so propel it forward,
while to secure a sound and firm fulcrum, wedges of wood were inserted
between the lever and the ground. The greater power of a lever at a
distance from the fulcrum being known, ropes were attached to its upper
end, which could not otherwise have been reached, and the lever was
worked by means of them.

We have thus unimpeachable evidence as to the mode whereby the
conveyance of huge blocks of stone along level ground was effected. But
it may be further asked, how were the blocks raised up to the elevation
at which we find them placed? Upon this point there is no direct
evidence; but the probability is that they were drawn up inclined ways,
sloping gently from the natural ground to the top of the platforms. The
Assyrians were familiar with inclined ways, which they used almost
always in their attacks on walled places, and which in many cases they
constructed either of brick or stone. The Egyptians certainly employed
them for the elevation of large blocks; and probably in the earlier
times most nations who affected massive architecture had recourse to the
same simple but uneconomical plan. The crane and pulley were applied to
this purpose later. In the Assyrian sculptures we find no application of
either to building, and no instance at all of the two in combination.
Still each appears on the bas-reliefs separately--the crane employed for
drawing water from the rivers, and spreading it over the lands, the
pulley for lowering and raising the bucket in wells. [PLATE LXXXIX.,
Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: PLATE 89]

We must conclude from these facts that the Assyrians had made
considerable advances in mechanical knowledge, and were, in fact,
acquainted, more or less, with most of the contrivances whereby heavy
weights have commonly been moved and raised among the civilized nations
of Europe. We have also evidence of their skill in the mechanical
processes of shaping pottery and glass, of casting and embossing metals,
and of cutting intaglios upon hard stones. Thus it was not merely in the
ruder and coarser, but likewise in the more delicate processes, that
they excelled. The secrets of metallurgy, of dyeing, enamelling,
inlaying, glass-blowing, as well as most of the ordinary manufacturing
processes, were known to them. In all the common arts and appliances of
life, they must be pronounced at least on a par with the Egyptians,
while in taste they greatly exceeded, not that nation only, but all the
Orientals. Their "high art" is no doubt much inferior to that of Greece;
but it has real merit, and is most remarkable considering the time when
it was produced. It has grandeur, dignity, boldness, strength, and
sometimes even freedom and delicacy; it is honest and painstaking,
unsparing of labor, and always anxious for truth. Above all, it is not
lifeless and stationary, like the art of the Egyptians and the Chinese,
but progressive and aiming at improvement. To judge by the advance over
previous works which we observe in the sculptures of the son of
Esarhaddon, it would seem that if Assyria had not been assailed by
barbaric enemies about his time, she might have anticipated by above a
century the finished excellence of the Greeks.



"Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs
shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind."--ISA.
v. 28.

In reviewing, so far as our materials permit, the manners and customs of
the Assyrians, it will be convenient to consider separately their
warlike and their peaceful usages. The sculptures furnish very full
illustration of the former, while on the latter they throw light far
more sparingly.

The Assyrians fought in chariots, on horseback, and on foot. Like most
ancient nations, as the Egyptians, the Greeks in the heroic times, the
Canaanites, the Syrians, the Jews and Israelites, the Persians, the
Gauls, the Britons, and many others, the Assyrians preferred the chariot
as most honorable, and probably as most safe. The king invariably went
out to war in a chariot, and always fought from it, excepting at the
siege of a town, when he occasionally dismounted and shot his arrows on
foot. The chief state-officers and other personages of high rank
followed the same practice. Inferior persons served either as cavalry or
as foot-soldiers.

The Assyrian war-chariot is thought to have been made of wood. Like the
Greek and the Egyptian, it appears to have been mounted from behind
where it was completely open, or closed only by means of a shield, which
(as it seems) could be hung across the aperture. It was completely
panelled at the sides, and often highly ornamented, as will be seen from
the various illustrations given in this chapter. The wheels were two in
number, and were placed far back, at or very near the extreme end of the
body, so that the weight pressed considerably upon the pole, as was the
case also in Egypt. They had remarkably broad felloes, thin and delicate
spokes, and small or moderate sized axels. [PLATE LXXXIX. Fig. 2], and
[PLATE XC., Figs. 1, 2.] The number of the spokes was either six or
eight. The felloes appear to have been formed of three distinct circles
of wood, the middle one being the thinnest, and the outer one far the
thickest of the three. Sometimes these circles were fastened together
externally by bands of mental, hatchet-shaped. In one or two instances
we find the outermost circle divided by cross-bars, as if it had been
composed of four different pieces. Occasionally there is a fourth
circle, which seems to represent a metal tire outside the felloe,
whereby it was guarded from injury. This tire is either plain or

[Illustration: PLATE 90]

The wheels were attached to an axletree, about which they revolved, in
the usual manner. The body was placed directly upon the axletree and
upon the pole, without the intervention of any springs. The pole started
from the middle of the axle-tree, and, passing below the floor of the
body in a horizontal direction, thence commonly curved upwards till it
had risen to about half the height of the body, when it was again
horizontal for awhile, once more curving upwards at the end. It usually
terminated in an ornament, which was sometimes the head of an animal--a
bull, a horse, or a duck--sometimes a more elaborate and complicated
work of art. [PLATE XC., Fig. 3.] Now and then the pole continued level
with the bottom of the body till it had reached its full projection, and
then rose suddenly to the height of the top of the chariot. It was often
strengthened by one or more thin bars, probably of metal; which united
it to the upper part of the chariot-front.

Chariots were drawn either by two or three, never by four, horses. They
seem to have had but a single pole. Where three horses were used, one
must therefore have been attached merely by a rope or thong, like the
side horses of the Greeks, and, can scarcely have been of much service
for drawing the vehicle. He seems rightly regarded as a supernumerary,
intended to take the place of one of the others, should either be
disabled by a wound or accident. It is not easy to determine from the
sculptures how the two draught horses were attached to the pole. Where
chariots are represented without horses, we find indeed that they have
always a cross-bar or yoke; but where horses are represented in the act
of drawing a chariot, the cross-bar commonly disappears altogether. It
would seem that the Assyrian artists, despairing of their ability to
represent the yoke properly when it was presented to the eye end-wise,
preferred, for the most part, suppressing it wholly to rendering it in
an unsatisfactory manner. Probably a yoke did really in every case pass
over the shoulders of the two draught horses, and was fastened by straps
to the collar which is always seen round their necks.

These yokes, or cross-bars, were of various kinds. Sometimes they appear
to have consisted of a mere slight circular bar, probably of metal,
which passed through the pole; sometimes of a thicker spar, through
which the pole itself passed. In this latter case the extremities were
occasionally adorned with heads of animals. [PLATE XCI., Fig. 1.] The
most common kind of yoke exhibits a double curve, so as to resemble a
species of bow unstrung. [PLATE XCI., Fig. 2.] Now and then a specimen
is found very curiously complicated, being formed of a bar curved
strongly at either end, and exhibiting along its course four other
distinct curvatures having opposite to there apertures resembling eyes,
with an upper and a lower eyelid. [PLATE XCI., Fig. 3.] It has been
suggested that this yoke belonged to a four-horse chariot, and that to
each of the four eyes (_a a a a_) there was a steed attached; but, as no
representation of a four-horse chariot has been found, this suggestion
must be regarded as inadmissible. The probability seems to be that this
yoke, like the others, was for two horses, on whose necks it rested at
the points marked _b b_, the apertures (_c c c c_) lying thus on either
side of the animals' necks, and furnishing the means whereby the he was
fastened to the collar. It is just possible that we have in the
sculptures of the later period a representation of the extremities
(_d d_) of this kind of yoke, since in them a curious curve appears
sometimes on the necks of chariot-horses, just above the upper end of
the collar.

[Illustration: PLATE 91]

Assyrian chariots are exceedingly short: but, apparently, they must have
been of a considerable width. They contain two persons at the least; and
this number is often increased to three, and sometimes even to four.
[PLATE XCI. Fig. 4.] The warrior who fights from a chariot is
necessarily attended by his charioteer; and where he is a king, or a
personage of high importance, he is accompanied by a second attendant,
who in battle-scenes always bears a shield, with which he guards the
person of his master. Sometimes, though rarely, four persons are seen in
a chariot--the king or chief, the charioteer, and two guards, who
protect the monarch on either side with circular shields or targes. The
charioteer is always stationed by the side of the warrior, not as
frequently with the Greeks, behind him. The guards stand behind, and,
owing to the shortness of the chariot, must have experienced some
difficulty in keeping their places. They are evidently forced to lean
back-wards from want of room, and would probably have often fallen out,
had they not grasped with one hand a rope or strap firmly fixed to the
front of the vehicle.

There are two principal types of chariots in the Assyrian sculptures,
which may be distinguished as the earlier and the later. The earlier are
comparatively low and short. The wheels are six-spoked, and of small
diameter. The body is plain, or only ornamented by a border, and is
rounded in front, like the Egyptian and the classical chariots. [PLATE
XCII., Fig 1.] Two quivers are suspended diagonally at the side of the
body, while a rest for a spear, commonly fashioned into the shape of a
human head, occupies the upper corner at the back. From the front of the
body to the further end of the pole, which is generally patterned and
terminates in the head and neck of a ball or a duck, extends an
ornamented structure, thought to have been of linen or silk stitched
upon a framework of wood, which is very conspicuous in the
representation. A shield commonly hangs behind these chariots, perhaps
closing the entrance; and a standard is sometimes fixed in them towards
the front, connected with the end of the pole by a rope or bar.

[Illustration: PLATE 92]

The later chariots are loftier and altogether larger than the earlier.
The wheel is eight spoked, and reaches as high as the shoulders of the
horses, which implies a diameter of about five feet. [PLATE XCII., Fig.
2. ] The body rises a foot or rather more, above this; and the riders
thus from their elevated position command the whole battle-field. The
body is not rounded, but made square in front: it has no quivers
attached to it externally, but has, instead, a projection at one or both
of the corners which seems to have served as an arrow-case. This
projection is commonly patterned, as is in many cases the entire body of
the chariot, though sometimes the ornamentation is confined to an
elegant but somewhat scanty border. The poles are plain, not patterned,
sometimes, however, terminating in the head of a horse; there is no
ornamental framework connecting them with the chariot, but in its stead
we see a thin bar, attached to which, either above or below, there is in
most instances a loop, whereto we may suppose that the reins were
occasionally fastened. No shield is suspended behind these chariots; but
we sometimes observe an embroidered drapery hanging over the back, in a
way which would seem to imply that they were closed behind, at any rate
by a cross-bar.

The trappings of the chariot-horses belonging to the two periods are not
very different. They consist principally of a headstall, a collar, a
breast-ornament, and a sort of huge tassel pendent at the horse's side.
The headstall was formed commonly of three straps: one was attached to
the bit at either end, and passed behind the ears over the neck;
another, which was joined to this above, encircled the smallest part of
the neck; while a third, crossing the first at right angles, was carried
round the forehead and the cheek bones. At the point where the first and
second joined, or a little in front of this, rose frequently a waving
plume, or a crest composed of three huge tassels, one above another;
while at the intersection of the second and third was placed a rosette
or other suitable ornament. The first strap was divided where it
approached the bit into two or three smaller straps, which were attached
to the bit in different places. A fourth strap sometimes passed across
the nose from the point where the first strap subdivided. All the straps
were frequently patterned; the bit was sometimes shaped into an animal
form and streamers occasional floated from the nodding plume or crest
which crowned the heads of the war-steeds.

The collar is ordinarily represented as a mere broad band passing round
the neck, not of the withers (as with ourselves). but considerably
higher up, almost midway between the withers and the cheek-bone.
Sometimes it is of uniform width while often it narrows greatly as it
approaches the back of the neck. It is generally patterned, and appears
to have been a mere flat leathern band. It is impossible to say in what
exact way the pole was attached to it, though in the later sculptures we
have elaborate representations of the fastening. The earlier sculptures
seem to append to the collar one or more patterned straps, which,
passing round the horse's belly immediately behind the fore legs, served
to keep it in place, while at the same time they were probably regarded
as ornamental; but under the later kings these belly Lands were either
reduced to a single strap, or else dispensed with altogether.

The breast-ornament consists commonly of a fringe, more or less
complicated. The simplest form, which is that of the most ancient times,
exhibits a patterned strap with a single row of long tassels pendent
from it, as in the annexed representation. At a later date we find a
double and even a triple row of tassels.

The pendent side-ornament is a very conspicuous portion of the
trappings. It is attached to the collar either by a long straight strap
or by a circular band which falls on either side of the neck. The upper
extremity is often shaped into the form of an animal's head, below which
comes most commonly a circle or disk, ornamented with a rosette, a
Maltese cross, a winged bull, or other sacred emblem, while below the
circle hang huge tassels in a single row or smaller ones arranged in
several rows. In the sculptures of Sargon at Khorsabad, the tassels of
both the breast and side ornaments were colored, the tints being in most
cases alternately red and blue.

Occasionally the chariot-horses were covered from the ears almost to the
tail with rich cloths, magnificently embroidered over their whole
surface.' [PLATE XCIII., Fig. 2.] These cloths encircled the neck, which
they closely fitted, and, falling on either side of the body, were then
kept in place by means of a broad strap round the rump and a girth under
the belly.

[Illustration: PLATE 93]

A simpler style of clothing chariot-horses is found towards the close of
the later period, where we observe, below the collar, a sort of triple
breastplate, and over the rest of the body a plain cloth, square cut,
with flaps descending at the arms and quarters, which is secured in its
place by three narrow straps fastened on externally. The earlier kind of
clothing has the appearance of being for ornament but this looks as if
it was meant solely for protection.

Besides the trappings already noticed, the Assyrian chariot-horses had
frequently strings of beads suspended round their necks, between the
ears and the collar; they had also, not unfrequently, tassels or bells
attached to different parts of the headstall [PLATE XCIII., Fig. 3], and
finally they had, in the later period most commonly, a curious ornament
upon the forehead, which covered almost the whole space between the ears
and the eyes, and was composed of a number of minute bosses, colored,
like the tassels of the breast ornament, alternately red and blue.

Each horse appears to have been driven by two reins--one attached to
either end of the bit in the ordinary manner, and each passed through a
ring or loop in the harness, whereby the rein was kept down and a
stronger purchase secured to the driver. The shape of the bit within the
mouth, if we may judge by the single instance of an actual bit which
remains to us, bore a near resemblance to the modern snaffle. [PLATE
XCIV., Fig. 1.] Externally the bit was large, and in most cases
clumsy--a sort of cross-bar extending across the whole side of the
horse's face, commonly resembling a double axe-head, or a hammer.
Occasionally the shape was varied, the hatchet or hammer being replaced
by forms similar to those annexed, or by the figure of a horse at full
gallop. The rein seems, in the early times, to have been attached about
midway in the cross-bar, while afterwards it became usual to attach it
near the lower end. This latter arrangement was probably found to
increase the power of the driver.

[Illustration: PLATE 94]

The use of the bearing-rein, which prevailed in Egypt, was unknown to
the Assyrians, or disapproved by them. The driving-reins were separate,
not stitched or buckled together, and were held in the two hands
separately. The right hand grasped the reins, whatever their number,
which were attached at the horses' right cheeks, while the left hand
performed the same office with the remaining reins. The charioteer urged
his horses onward with a powerful whip, having a short handle, and a
thick plaited or twisted lash, attached like the lash of a modern
horsewhip, sometimes with, sometimes without, a loop, and often
subdivided at the end into two or three tails. [PLATE XCIV., Fig. 4.]

Chariot-horses were trained to three paces, a walk, a trot, and a
gallop. In battle-pieces they are commonly represented at full speed, in
marches trotting, in processions walking in a stately manner. Their
manes were frequently hogged, though more commonly they lay on the neck,
falling (apparently) upon either side indifferently. Occasionally a
portion only was hogged, while the greater part remained in its natural
condition. The tail was uncut, and generally almost swept the ground,
but was confined by a string or ribbon tied tightly around it about
midway. Sometimes, more especially in the later sculptures, the lower
half of the tail is plaited and tied up into a loop or bunch [PLATE
XCIV., Fig. 5], according to the fashion which prevails in the present
day through most parts of Turkey and Persia.

The warrior who fought from a chariot was sometimes merely dressed in a
tunic, confined at the waist by a belt; sometimes, however, he wore a
coat of mail, very like the Egyptian, consisting of a sort of shirt
covered with small plates or scales of metal. This shirt reached at
least as low as the knees, beneath which the chariot itself was
sufficient protection. It had short sleeves, which covered the shoulder
and upper part of the arm, but left the elbow and fore-arm quite
undefended. The chief weapon of the warrior was the bow, which is always
seen in his hands, usually with the arrow upon the string; he wears,
besides, a short sword, suspended at his left side by a strap, and he
has commonly a spear within his reach; but we never see him using
either of these weapons. He either discharges his arrows against the foe
from the standing-board of his chariot, or, commanding the charioteer to
halt, descends, and, advancing a few steps before his horses' heads,
takes a surer and more deadly aim from _terra firma_. In this case his
attendant defends him from missiles by extending in front of him a
shield, which he holds in his left hand, while at the same time he makes
ready to repel any close assailant by means of a spear or sword grasped
firmly in his right. The warrior's face and arms are always bare;
sometimes the entire head is undefended, though more commonly it has the
protection of a helmet. This, however, is without a visor, and does not
often so much as cover the ears. In some few instances only is it
furnished with flaps or lappets, which, where they exist, seem to be
made of metal scales, and, falling over the shoulders, entirely conceal
the ears, the back of the head, the neck, and even the chin.

The position occupied by chariots in the military system of Assyria is
indicated in several passages of Scripture, and distinctly noticed by
many of the classical writers. When Isaiah began to warn his countrymen
of the 'miseries in store for them at the hands of the new enemy which
first attacked Judea in his day, he described them as a people "whose
arrows were sharp, and all their bows bent, whose horses' hoofs should
be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind." When in after
days he was commissioned to raise their drooping courage by assuring
them that they would escape Sennacherib, who had angered God by his
pride, he noticed, as one special provocation of Jehovah, that monarch's
confidence in the multitude of his chariots. Nahum again, having to
denounce the approaching downfall of the haughty nation, declares that
God is "against her, and will burn her chariots in the smoke." In the
fabulous account which Ctesias gave of the origin of Assyrian greatness,
the war-chariots of Ninus were represented as amounting to nearly eleven
thousand, while those of his wife and successor, Semiramis, were
estimated at the extravagant number of a hundred thousand. Ctesias
further stated that the Assyrian chariots, even at this early period,
were armed with scythes, a statement contradicted by Xenophon, who
ascribes this invention to the Persians, and one which receives no
confirmation from the monuments. Amid all this exaggeration and
inventiveness, one may still trace a knowledge of the fact that
war-chariots were highly esteemed by the Assyrians from a very ancient
date, while from other notices we may gather that they continued to be
reckoned an important arm of the military service to the very end of the

Next to the war-chariots of the Assyrians we must place their cavalry,
which seems to have been of scarcely less importance in their wars.
Ctesias, who amid all his exaggerations shows glimpses of some real
knowledge of the ancient condition of the Assyrian people, makes the
number of the horsemen in their armies always greatly exceed that of the
chariots. The writer of the book of Judith gives Holofernes 12,000
horse-archers, and Ezekiel seems to speak of all the "desirable young
men" as "horsemen riding upon horses." The sculptures show on the whole
a considerable excess of cavalry over chariots, though the preponderance
is not uniformly exhibited throughout the different periods.

During the time of the Upper dynasty, cavalry appears to have been but
little used. Tiglath-Pileser I. in the whole of his long Inscription has
not a single mention of them, though he speaks of his chariots
continually. In the sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal, the father of the
Black-Obelisk king, while chariots abound, horsemen occur only in rare
instances. Afterwards, under Sargon and Sennacherib, we notice a great
change in this respect. The chariot comes to be almost confined to the
king, while horsemen are frequent in the battle scenes.

In the first period the horses' trappings consisted of a head-stall, a
collar, and one or more strings of beads. The head-stall was somewhat
heavy, closely resembling that of the chariot-horses of the time,
representations of which have been already given. It had the same heavy
axe-shaped bit, the same arrangement of straps, and nearly the same
ornamentation. The only marked difference was the omission of the crest
or plume, with its occasional accompaniment of streamers. The collar was
very peculiar. It consisted of a broad flap, probably of leather, shaped
almost like a half-moon, which was placed on the neck about half way
between the ears and the withers, and thence depended over the breast,
where it was broadened out and ornamented by large drooping tassels.
Occasionally the collar was plain, but more often it was elaborately
patterned. Sometimes pomegranates hung from it, alternating with the

The cavalry soldiers of this period ride without any saddle. Their legs
and feet are bare, and their seat is very remarkable. Instead of
allowing their legs to hang naturally down the horses' sides, they draw
them up till their knees are on a level with their chargers' backs, the
object (apparently) being to obtain a firm seat by pressing the base of
the horse's neck between the two knees. The naked legs seem to indicate
that it was found necessary to obtain the fullest and freest play of the
muscles to escape the inconveniences of a fall.

The chief weapon of the cavalry at this time is the bow. Sword and
shield indeed are worn, but in no instance do we see them used. Cavalry
soldiers are either archers or mere attendants who are without weapons
of offence. One of these latter accompanies each horse-archer in battle,
for the purpose of holding and guiding his steed while he discharges his
arrows. The attendant wears a skull cap and a plain tunic, the archer
has an embroidered tunic, a belt to which his sword is attached, and one
of the ordinary pointed helmets.

In the second period the cavalry consists in part of archers, in part of
spearmen. Unarmed attendants are no longer found, both spearmen and
archers appearing to be able to manage their own horses. Saddles have
now come into common use: they consist of a simple cloth, or flap of
leather, which is either cut square, or shaped somewhat like the
saddle-cloths of our own cavalry. A single girth beneath the belly is
their ordinary fastening; but sometimes they are further secured by
means of a strap or band passed round the breast, and a few instances
occur of a second strap passed round the quarters. The breast-strap is
generally of a highly ornamented character. The headstall of this period
is not unlike the earlier one, from which it differs chiefly in having a
crest, and also a forehead ornament composed of a number of small
bosses. It has likewise commonly a strap across the nose, but none under
the cheek-bones. It is often richly ornamented, particularly with
rosettes, bells, and tassels.

The old pendent collar is replaced by one encircling the neck about
halfway up, or is sometimes dispensed with altogether. Where it occurs,
it is generally of uniform width, and is ornamented with rosettes or
tassels. No conjecture has been formed of any use which either form of
collar could serve; and the probability is that they were intended
solely for ornament.

[Illustration: PLATE 95]

A great change is observable in the sculptures of the second period with
respect to the dress of the riders. [PLATE XCV., Fig. 1.] The cavalry
soldier is now completely clothed, with the exception of his two arms,
which are bare from a little below the shoulder. He wears most commonly
a tunic which fits him closely about the body, but below the waist
expands into a loose kilt or petticoat, very much longer behind than in
front, which is sometimes patterned, and always terminates in a fringe.
Round his waist he has a broad belt; and another, of inferior width,
from which a sword hangs, passes over his left shoulder. His legs are
encased in a close-fitting pantaloon or trouser, over which he wears a
laced boot or greave, which generally reaches nearly to the knee, though
sometimes it only covers about half the calf. [PLATE XCV., Fig. 2.] This
costume, which is first found in the time of Sargon, and continues to
the reign of Asshur-bani-pal, Esarhaddon's son, may probably be regarded
as the regular cavalry uniform under the monarchs of the Lower Empire.
In Sennacherib's reign there is found in conjunction with it another
costume, which is unknown to the earlier sculptures. This consists of a
dress closely fitting the whole body, composed apparently of a coat of
mail, leather or felt breeches, and a high greave or jack boot. [PLATE
XCVI., Fig. 1.] The wearers of this costume are spearmen or archers
indifferently. The former carry a long weapon, which has generally a
rather small head, and is grasped low down the shaft. The bow of the
latter is either round-arched or angular, and seems to be not more than
four feet in length; the arrows measure less than three feet, and are
slung in a quiver at the archer's back. Both spearmen and archers
commonly carry swords, which are hung on the left side, in a diagonal,
and sometimes nearly in a horizontal position. In some few cases the
spearman is also an archer, and carries his bow on his right arm,
apparently as a reserve in case he should break or lose his spear.

[Illustration: PLATE 96]

The seat of the horseman is far more graceful in the second than in the
first period his limbs appear to move freely, and his mastery over his
horse is such that he needs no attendant. The spearman holds the bridle
in his left hand; the archer boldly lays it upon the neck of his steed,
who is trained either to continue his charge, or to stand firm while a
steady aim is taken. [PLATE XCV., Fig. 3.]

In the sculptures of the son and successor of Esarhaddon, the horses of
the cavalry carry not unfrequently, in addition to the ordinary saddle
or pad, a large cloth nearly similar to that worn sometimes by
chariot-horses, of which a representation has been already given. It is
cut square with two drooping lappets, and covers the greater part of the
body. Occasionally it is united to a sort of breastplate which protects
the neck, descending about halfway clown the chest. The material may be
supposed to have been thick felt or leather, either of which would have
been a considerable protection against weapons.

While the cavalry and the chariots were regarded as the most important
portions of the military force, and were the favorite services with the
rich and powerful, there is still abundant reason to believe that
Assyrian armies, like most others, consisted mainly of foot. Ctesias
gives Minis 1,700,000 footmen to 210,000 horsemen, and 10,600 chariots.
Xenophon contrasts the multitude of the Assyrian infantry with the
comparatively scanty numbers of the other two services: Herodotus makes
the Assyrians serve in the army of Xerxes on foot only. The author of
the book of Judith assigns to Holofernes an infantry force ten times as
numerous as his cavalry.--The Assyrian monuments entirely bear out the
general truth involved in all these assertions, showing us, as they do,
at least ten Assyrian warriors on foot for each one mounted on
horseback, and at least a hundred for each one who rides in a chariot.
However terrible to the foes of the Assyrians may have been the shock of
their chariots and the impetuosity of their horsemen, it was probably to
the solidity of the infantry, to their valor, equipment, and discipline,
that the empire was mainly indebted for its long series of victories.

In the time of the earliest sculptures, all the Assyrian foot-soldiers
seem to have worn nearly the same costume. This consisted of a short
tunic, not quite reaching to the knees, confined round the waist by a
broad belt, fringed, and generally opening in front, together with a
pointed helmet, probably of metal. The arms, legs, neck, and even the
feet, were ordinarily bare, although these last had sometimes the
protection of a very simple sandal. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 2.] Swordsmen
used a small straight sword or dagger which they wore at their left side
in an ornamented sheath, and a shield which was either convex and
probably of metal, or oblong-square and composed of wickerwork. [PLATE
XCVI., Fig. 2.] Spearmen had shields of a similar shape and
construction, and carried in their right hands a short pike or javelin,
certainly not exceeding five feet in length. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 4.]
Sometimes, but not always, they carried, besides the pike, a short
sword. Archers had rounded bows about four feet in length, and arrows a
little more than three feet long. Their quivers, which were often highly
ornamented, hung at their backs, either over the right or over the left
shoulder. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 4.] They had swords suspended at their left
sides by a cross-belt, and often carried maces, probably of bronze or
iron, which bore a rosette or other ornament at one end, and a ring or
strap at the other. The tunics of archers were sometimes elaborately
embroidered; and on the whole they seem to have been regarded as the
flower of the foot-soldiery. Generally they are represented in pairs,
the two being in most cases armed and equipped alike; but, occasionally,
one of the pair acts as guard while the other takes his aim. In this
case both kneel on one knee, and the guard, advancing his long wicker
shield, protects both himself and his comrade from missiles, while he
has at the same time his sword drawn to repel all hand-to-hand
assailants. [PLATE XCVII., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 97]

In the early part of the second period, which synchronizes with the
reign of Sargon, the difference in the costumes of the foot-soldiers
becomes much more marked. The Assyrian infantry now consists of two
great classes, archers and spear-men. The archers are either light-armed
or heavy-armed, and of the latter there are two clearly distinct
varieties. The light-armed have no helmet, but wear on their heads a
mere fillet or band, which is either plain or patterned. [PLATE XCVI.,
Fig. 3.] Except for a cross-belt which supports the quiver, they are
wholly naked to the middle. Their only garment is a tunic of the
scantiest dimensions, beginning at the waist, round which it is fastened
by a broad belt or girdle, and descending little more than half-way down
the thigh. In its make it sometimes closely resembles the tunic of the
first period, but more often it has the peculiar pendent ornament which
has been compared to the scotch phillibeg, and which will be here given
that name. It is often patterned with squares and gradines. The
light-armed archer has usually bare feet; occasionally, however, he
wears the slight sandal of this period, which is little more than a cap
for the heel held in place by two or three strings passed across the
instep. There is nothing remarkable in his arms, which resemble those of
the preceding period: but it may be observed that, while shooting, he
frequently holds two arrows in his right hand besides that which is upon
the string. He shoots either kneeling or standing, generally the latter.
His ordinary position is in the van of battle, though sometimes a
portion of the heavy-armed troops precede him. He has no shield, and is
not protected by an attendant, thus running more risk than any of the
rest of the army.

The more simply equipped of the heavy archers are clothed in a coat of
mail, which reaches from their neck to their middle, and partially
covers the arms. Below this they wear a fringed tunic reaching to the
knees, and confined at the waist by a broad belt of the ordinary
character. Their feet have in most instances the protection of a sandal,
and they wear on their heads the common or pointed helmet. They usually
discharge their arrows kneeling on the left knee, with the right foot
advanced before them. Daring this operation they are protected by an
attendant, who is sometimes dressed like themselves, sometimes merely
clad a tunic, without a coat of mail. Like them, he wears a pointed
helmet; and while in one hand he carries a spear, with the other he
holds forward a shield, which is either of a round form--apparently, of
metal embossed with figures--or oblong-square in shape, and evidently
made of wickerwork. Archers of this class are the least common, and
scarcely ever occur unless in combination with some of the class which
has the heaviest equipment.

The principal characteristic of the third or most heavily armed class of
archers is the long robe, richly fringed, which descends nearly to their
feet, thus completely protecting all the lower part of their person.
[PLATE XCVII., Fig. 2.] Above this they wear a coat of mail exactly
resembling that of archers of the intermediate class, which is sometimes
crossed by a belt ornamented with crossbars. Their head is covered by
the usual pointed helmet, and their feet are always, or nearly always,
protected by sandals. They are occasionally represented without either
sword or quiver, but more usually they have a short sword at their left
side, which appears to have been passed through their coat of mail,
between the armor plates, and in a few instances they have also quivers
at their backs. Where these are lacking, they generally either carry two
extra arrows in their right hand, or have the same number borne for them
by an attendant. They are never seen unattended: sometimes they have
one, sometimes two attendants, who accompany them, and guard them from
attack. One of these almost always bears the long wicker shield, called
by the Greeks [yeppov] which he rests firmly upon the ground in front of
himself and comrade. The other, where there is a second, stands a little
in the rear, and guards the archer's head with a round shield or targe.
Both attendants are dressed in a short tunic, a phillibeg, a belt, and a
pointed helmet. Generally they wear also a coat of mail and sandals,
like those of the archer. They carry swords at their left sides, and the
principal attendant, except when he bears the archer's arrows, guards
him from attack by holding in advance a short spear. The archers of this
class never kneel, but always discharge their arrows standing. They seem
to be regarded as the most important of the foot-soldiers, their
services being more particularly valuable in the siege of fortified

The spearmen of this period are scarcely better armed than the second or
intermediate class of archers. Except in very rare instances they have
no coat of mail, and their tunic, which is either plain or covered with
small squares, barely reaches to the knee. The most noticeable point
about them is their helmet, which is never the common pointed or conical
one, but is always surmounted by a crest of one kind or another. [PLATE
XCVII.. Fig. 3.] Another very frequent peculiarity is the arrangement of
their cross-belts, which meet on the back and breast, and are ornamented
at the points of junction with a circular disk, probably of metal. The
shield of the spearman is also circular, and is formed generally, if not
always--of wickerwork, with (occasionally) a central boss of wood or
metal. [PLATE XCVII., Fig. 4.] In most cases their legs are wholly bare;
but sometimes they have sandals, while in one or two instances they wear
a low boot or greave laced in front, and resembling that of the cavalry.
[PLATE XCVII.. Fig. 4.] The spear with which they are armed varies in
length, from about four to six feet. [PLATE XCVIII.. Fig. 1.] It is
grasped near the lower extremity, at which a weight was sometimes
attached, in order the better to preserve the balance. Besides this
weapon they have the ordinary short sword. The spear-men play an
important part in the Assyrian wars, particularly at sieges, where they
always form the strength of the storming party.

[Illustration: PLATE 98]

Some important changes seen to have been made under Sennacherib in the
equipment and organization of the infantry force. These consisted
chiefly in the establishment of a greater number of distinct corps
differently armed, and in an improved equipment of the more important of
them. Sennacherib appears to have been the first to institute a corps of
slingers, who at any rate make their earliest appearance in his
sculptures. They were kind of soldier well-known to the Egyptians and
Sennacherib's acquaintance with the Egyptian warfare may have led to
their introduction among the troops of Assyria. The slinger in most
countries where his services were employed was lightly clad, and
reckoned almost as a supernumerary. It is remarkable that in Assyria he
is, at first, completely armed according to Assyrian ideas of
completeness, having a helmet, a coat of mail to the waist, a tunic to
the knees, a close-fitting trouser, and a short boot or greave. The
weapon which distinguishes him appears to have consisted of two pieces
of rope or string, attached to a short leathern strap which received the
stone. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 4.] Previous to making his throw, the
slinger seems to have whirled the weapon round his head two or three
times, in order to obtain on increased impetus--a practice which was
also known to the Egyptians and the Romans. With regard to ammunition,
it does not clearly appear how the Assyrian slinger was supplied. He has
no bag like the Hebrew slinger, no _sinus_ like the Roman. Frequently we
see him simply provided with a single extra stone, which he carries in
his left hand. Sometimes, besides this reserve, he has a small heap of
stones at his feet; but whether he has collected them from the field, or
has brought them with him and deposited them where they lie, is not

Sennacherib's archers fall into four classes, two of which may be called
heavy-armed and two light-armed. None of them exactly resemble the
archers of Sargon. The most heavily equipped wears a tunic, a coat of
mail reaching to the waist, a pointed helmet, a close-fitting trouser,
and a short boot or greave. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 1.] He is accompanied
by an attendant (or sometimes by two attendants) similarly attired, and
fights behind a large wicker shield or _gerrhon_. A modification of this
costume is worn by the second class, the archers of which have bare
legs, a tunic which seems to open at the side, and a phillibeg. They
fight without the protection of a shield, generally in pairs, who shoot
together. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 3.]

The better equipped of the light-armed archers of this period have a
costume which is very striking. Their head-dress consists of a broad
fillet, elaborately patterned, from which there often depends on either
side of the head a large lappet, also richly ornamented, generally of an
oblong-square shape, and terminating in a fringe. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig.
2.] Below this they wear a closely fitting tunic, as short as that worn
by the light-armed archers of Sargon, sometimes patterned, like that,
with squares and gradines, sometimes absolutely plain. The upper part of
this tunic is crossed by two belts of very unusual breadth, which pass
respectively over the right and the left shoulder. There is also a third
broad belt round the waist; and both this and the transverse belts are
adorned with elegant patterns. The phillibeg depends from the girdle,
and is seen in its full extent, hanging either in front or on the right
side. The arms are naked from the shoulder, and the legs from
considerably above the knee, the feet alone being protected by a scanty
sandal. The ordinary short sword is worn at the side, and a quiver is
carried at the back; the latter is sometimes kept in place by means of a
horizontal strap which passes over it and round the body. [PLATE XCIX.,
Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: PLATE 99]

The archers of the lightest equipment wear nothing but a fillet, with or
without lappets, upon the head, and a striped tunic, longer behind than
in front, which extends from the neck to the knees, and is confined at
the waist by a girdle. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 1.] Their arms, legs, and feet
are bare, they have seldom any sword, and their quiver seems to be
suspended only by a single horizontal strap, like that represented in
[PLATE XCIX., Fig. 2.] They do not appear very often upon the monuments:
when seen, they are interspersed among archers and soldiers of other

Sennacherib's foot spearmen are of two classes only. The better armed
have pointed helmets, with lappets protecting the ears, a coat of mail
descending to the waist and also covering all the upper part of the
arms, a tunic opening at the side, a phillibeg, close-fitting trousers,
and greaves of the ordinary character. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 3.] They carry
a large convex shield, apparently of metal, which covers them almost
from head to foot, and a spear somewhat less than their own height.
Commonly they have a short sword at their right side. Their shield is
often ornamented with rows of bosses towards the centre and around the
edge. It is ordinarily carried in front; but when the warrior is merely
upon the march, he often bears it slung at his back, as in the
accompanying representation. There is reason to suspect that the
spearmen of this description constituted the royal bodyguard. They are
comparatively few in number, and are usually seen in close proximity to
the monarch, or in positions which imply trust, as in the care of
prisoners and of the spoil. They never make the attacks in sieges, and
are rarely observed to be engaged in battle. Where several of them are
seen together, it is almost always in attendance upon the king whom they
constantly precede upon his journeys.

The inferior spearmen of Sennacherib are armed nearly like those of
Sargon. They have crested helmets, plain tunics confined at the waist by
a broad girdle, cross-belts ornamented with circular disks where they
meet in the centre of the breast, and, most commonly, round wicker
shields. The chief points wherein they differ from Sargon's spearmen is
the following: they usually (though not universally) wear trousers and
greaves; they have sleeves to their tunics, winch descend nearly to the
elbow; and they carry sometimes, instead of the round shield, a long
convex one arched at the top. [PLATE XCIX., fig. 4.] Where they have not
this defence, but the far commoner targe, it is always of larger
dimensions than the targe of Sargon, and is generally surrounded by a
rim. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 4.] Sometimes it appears to be of metal: but
more often it is of wickerwork, either of the plain construction common
in Sargon's time, or of one considerably more elaborate.

Among the foot soldiers of Sennacherib we seem to find a corps of
pioneers. They wear the same dress as the better equipped of the
spearmen, but carry in their hands, instead of a spear, a doubled-headed
axe or hatchet, wherewith they clear the ground for the passage and
movements of the army. They work in pairs, one pulling at the tree by
its branches while the other attacks the stem with his weapon.

After Sennacherib's time we find but few alterations in the equipment of
the foot soldiers. Esarhaddon has left us no sculptures, and in those of
his son and successor, Asshur-bani pal, the costumes of Sennacherib are
for the most part reproduced almost exactly. The chief difference is
that there are not at this time quite so many varieties of equipment,
both archers and spearmen being alike divided into two classes only,
light armed and heavy-armed. The light-armed archers correspond to
Sennacherib's bowmen of the third class. They have the fillet, the plain
tunic, the cross-belts, the broad girdle, and the phillibeg. They differ
only in having no lappets over the ears and no sandals. The heavy-armed
archers resemble the first class of Sennacherib exactly, except that
they are not seen shooting from behind the _gerrhon_.

In the case of the spearmen, the only novelty consists in the shields.
The spearmen of the heavier equipment, though sometimes they carry the
old convex oval shield, more often have one which is made straight at
the bottom, and rounded only at top. [PLATE C., Fig. 1. ] The spearmen
of the lighter equipment have likewise commonly a shield of this shape,
but it is of wicker work instead of metal, like that borne occasionally
by the light-armed spearmen of Sennacherib.

[Illustration: PLATE 100]

Besides spearmen and archers, we see among the foot soldiers of
Asshur-bani-pal, slingers, mace-bearers, and men armed with battle axes.
For the slingers Sennacherib's heavy equipment has been discarded; and
they wear nothing but a plain tunic, with a girdle and cross-belts.
[PLATE C., Fig. 2.] The mace-bearers and men with axes have the exact
dress of Asshur-bani-pal's heavy-armed spearmen, and may possibly be
spearmen who have broken or lost their weapons. It makes, however,
against this view, that they have no shields, which spearmen always
carry. Perhaps, therefore, we must conclude that towards the close of
the empire, besides spearmen, slingers, and archers, there were distinct
corps of mace-bearers and axe-bearers.

The arms used by the Assyrians have been mentioned, and to a certain
extent described, in the foregoing remarks upon the various classes of
their soldiers. Some further details may, however, be now added on their
character and on the variety observable in them.

The common Assyrian pointed helmet has been sufficiently described
already, and has received abundant illustration both in the present and
in former chapters. It was at first regarded as Scythic in character;
but Mr. Layard long ago observed that the resemblance which it bears to
the Scythian cap is too slight to prove any connection. That cap
appears, whether we follow the foreign, or the native representations of
it, to have been of felt, whereas the Assyrian pointed helmet was made
of metal: it was much taller than the Assyrian head-dress, and it was
less upright. [PLATE C, Fig. 3.]

The pointed helmet admitted of but few varieties. In its simplest form
it was a plain conical casque, with one or two rings round the base, and
generally with a half-disk in front directly over the forehead. [PLATE
C. Fig. 4.] Sometimes, however, there was appended to it a falling
curtain covered with metal scales, whereby the chin, neck, ears, and
back of the head were protected. More often it had, in lieu of this
effectual but cumbrous guard, a mere lappet or cheek-piece, consisting
of a plate of metal, attached to the rim, which descended over the ears
in the form of a half-oval or semicircle. If we may judge by the remains
actually found, the chief material of the helmet was iron; copper was
used only for the rings and the half-disk in front, which were inlaid
into the harder metal.

As if to compensate themselves for the uniformity to which they
submitted in this instance, the Assyrians indulged in a variety of
crested helmets. [PLATE. C., Fig. 5.] We cannot positively say that they
invented the crest; but they certainly dealt with it in the free spirit
which is usually seen where a custom is of home growth and not a foreign
importation. They used either a plain metal crest, or one surmounted by
tuffs of hair; and they either simply curved the crest forwards over the
front of the helmet, or extended it and carried it back-wards also. In
this latter case they generally made the curve a complete semicircle,
while occasionally they were content with a small segment, less even
than a quarter of a circle. They also varied considerably the shape of
the lappet over the ear, and the depth of the helmet behind and before
the lappet.

[Illustration: PLATE 101]

Assyrian coats of mail were of three sizes, and of two  different
constructions. In the earlier times they were worn long, descending
either to the feet or to the knees; and at this period they seem to have
been composed simply of successive rows of similar iron scales sewn on
to a shirt of linen or felt. [PLATE CI., Fig. 1.] Under the later
monarchs the coat of mail reached no lower than the waist, and it was
composed of alternate bands of dissimilar arrangement and perhaps of
different material. Mr. Layard suggests that at this time the scales,
which were larger than before, were "fastened to bands of iron or
copper." But it is perhaps more probable that scales of the old
character alternated in rows with scales of a new shape and smaller
dimensions. [PLATE CI., Fig. 2.] The old scales were oblong, squared at
one end and rounded at the other, very much resembling the Egyptian.
They were from two to three inches, or more, in length, and were placed
side by side, so that their greater length corresponded with the height
of the wearer. The new scales seem to have been not more than an inch
long; they appear to have been pointed at one end, and to have been laid
horizontally, each a little overlapping its fellow. It was probably
found that this construction, while possessing quite as much strength as
the other, was more favorable to facility of movement.

Remains of armor belonging to the second period have been discovered in
the Assyrian ruins. The scales are frequently embossed over their whole
surface with groups of figures and fanciful ornaments. The small scales
of the first period have no such elaborate ornamentation, being simply
embossed in the centre with a single straight line, which is of copper
inlaid into the iron.

The Assyrian coat of mail, like the Egyptian, had commonly a short
sleeve, extending about half way down to the elbow. [PLATE CI.. Fig. 1.]
This was either composed of scales set similarly to those of the rest of
the cuirass, or of two, three, or more rows placed at right angles to
the others. The greater part of the arm was left without any protection.

A remarkable variety existed in the form and construction of the
Assyrian shields. The most imposing kind is that which has been termed
the _gerrhon_, from its apparent resemblance to the Persian shield
mentioned under that name by Herodotus. [PLATE CI.. Fig. 1.] This was a
structure in wickerwork, which equalled or exceeded the warrior in
height, and which was broad enough to give shelter to two or even three
men. In shape it was either an oblong square, or such a square with a
projection at top, which stood out at right angles to the body of the
shield; or, lastly, and most usually, it curved inwards from a certain
height, gradually narrowing at the same time, and finally ending in a
point. Of course a shield of this vast size, even although formed of a
light material, was too heavy to be very readily carried upon the arm.
The plan adopted was to rest it upon the ground, on which it was
generally held steady by a warrior armed with sword or spear, while his
comrade, whose weapon was the bow, discharged his arrows from behind its
shelter. Its proper place was in sieges, where the roof-like structure
at the top was especially useful in warding off the stones and other
missiles which the besieged threw down upon their assailants. We
sometimes see it employed by single soldiers, who lean the point against
the wall of the place, and, ensconcing themselves beneath the penthouse
thus improvised, proceed to carry on the most critical operations of the
siege in almost complete security.

Modifications of this shield, reducing it to a smaller and more portable
size, were common in the earlier times, when among the shields most
usually borne we find one of wicker-work oblong-square in shape, and
either perfectly fiat, or else curving slightly inwards both at top and
at bottom. This shield was commonly about half the height of a man, or a
little more; it was often used as a protection for two, but must have
been scanty for that purpose.

Round shields were commoner in Assyria than any others. They were used
by most of those who fought in chariots, by the early monarchs' personal
attendants, by the cross-belted spear-men, and by many of the spearmen
who guarded archers. In the most ancient times they seem to have been
universally made of solid metal, and consequently they were small,
perhaps not often exceeding two feet, or two feet and a half, in
diameter. They were managed by means of a very simple handle, placed in
the middle of the shield at the back, and fastened to it by studs or
nails, which was not passed over the arm but grasped by the hand. The
rim was bent inwards, so as to form a deep groove all round the edge.
The material of which these shields were composed was in some cases
certainly bronze; in others it may have been iron: in a few silver, or
even gold. Some metal shields were perfectly plain; others exhibited a
number of concentric rings, others again were inlaid or embossed with
tasteful and elaborate patterns.

[Illustration: PLATE 102]

Among the later Assyrians the round metal shield seems to have been
almost entirely disused, its place being supplied by a wicker buckler of
the same shape, with a rim round the edge made of solid wood or of
metal, and sometimes with a boss in the centre. [PLATE CII., Fig. 1.]
The weight of the metal shield must have been considerable; and this
both limited their size and made it difficult to move them with
rapidity. With the change of material we perceive a decided increase of
magnitude, the diameter of the wicker buckler being often fully half the
warrior's height, or not much short of three feet.

Convex shields, generally of an oblong form, were also in common use
during the later period, and one kind is found in the very earliest
sculptures. This is of small dimensions and of a clumsy make. Its curve
is slight, and it is generally ornamented with a perpendicular row of
spikes or teeth, in the centre of which we often see the head of a lion.
[PLATE CII., Fig. 2.]

The convex shields of later date were very much larger than these.
[PLATE CIII., Fig. 3.] They were sometimes square at bottom and rounded
at top, in which case they were either made of wickerwork, or
(apparently) of metal. These latter had generally a boss in the centre,
and both this and the edge of the shield were often ornamented with a
row of rosettes or rings. Shields of this shape were from four to five
feet in height, and protected the warrior from the head to the knee. On
a march they were often worn upon the back, like the convex shield of
the Egyptians, which they greatly resembled.

[Illustration: PLATE 103]

The more ordinary convex shield was of an oval form, like the convex
shield of the Greeks, but larger, and with a more prominent centre.
[PLATE CIII., Fig. 1.] In its greater diameter it must often have
exceeded five feet, though no doubt sometimes it was smaller. It was
generally ornamented with narrow bands round the edge and round the boss
at the centre, the space between the bands being frequently patterned
with ring; or otherwise. Like the other form of convex shield, it could
be slung at the back, and was so carried on marches, on crossing rivers,
and other similar occasions.

The offensive arms certainly used by the Assyrians were the bow, the
spear, the sword, the mace, the sling, the axe or hatchet, and the
dagger. They may also have occasionally made use of the javelin, which
is sometimes seen among the arrows of a quiver. But the actual
employment of this weapon in war has not yet been found upon the
bas-reliefs. If faithfully represented, it must have been very
short,--scarcely, if at all, exceeding three feet. [PLATE CIII., Fig.

Assyrian bows were of two kinds, curved and angular. Compared with the
Egyptian, and with the bows used by the archers of the middle ages, they
were short, the greatest length of the strung bow being about four feet.
They seem to have been made of a single piece of wood, which in the
angular bow was nearly of the same thickness throughout, but in the
curved one tapered gradually towards the two extremities. At either end
was a small knob or button, in the later times often carved into the
representation of a duck's head. [PLATE CIII, Fig. 3.] Close above this
was a notch or groove, whereby the string was held in place. The mode of
stringing was one still frequently practised in the East. The bowman
stooped, and placing his right knee against the middle of the bow on its
inner side, pressed it downwards, at the same time drawing the two ends
of the bow upwards with his two hands. [PLATE CIII, Fig. 4.] A comrade
stood by, and, when the ends were brought sufficiently near, slipped the
string over the knob into the groove, where it necessarily remained. The
bend of the bow, thus strung, was slight. When full drawn, however, it
took the shape of a half-moon, which shows that it must have possessed
great elasticity. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 4.] The bow was known to be full
drawn when the head of the arrow touched the archer's left hand.

[Illustration: PLATE 104]

The Assyrian angular bow was of smaller size than the curved one. It was
not often carried unless as a reserve by those who also possessed the
larger and better weapon. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 5.]

Bows were but seldom unstrung. When not in use, they were carried
strung, the archer either holding them by the middle with his left hand,
or putting his arm through them, and letting them rest upon his
shoulders, or finally carrying them at his back in a bow case. [PLATE
CIV., Fig. I. ] The bow-case was a portion of the quiver, as frequently
with the Greeks, and held only the lower half of the bow, the upper
portion projecting from it.

Quivers were carried by foot and horse archers at their backs, in a
diagonal position, so that the arrows could readily be drawn from them
over the right shoulder. They were commonly slung in this position by a
strap of their own, attached to two rings, one near the top and the
other near the bottom of the quiver, which the archer slipped over his
left arm and his head. Sometimes, however, this strap seems to have been
wanting, and the quiver was either thrust through one of the
cross-belts, or attached by a strap which passed horizontally round the
body a little above the girdle. [PLATE CIV.,Fig. 2.] The archers who
rode in chariots carried their quivers at the chariot's side, in the
manner which has been already described and illustrated.

The ornamentation of quivers was generally elaborate. [PLATE CIV., Fig.
3.] Rosettes and bands constituted their most usual adornment; but
sometimes these gave place to designs of a more artistic character, as
wild bulls, griffins, and other mythic figures. Several examples of a
rich type have been already given in the representations of chariots,
but none exhibit this peculiarity. One further specimen of a chariot
quiver is therefore appended, which is among the most tasteful hitherto
discovered. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 3. ]

The quivers of the foot and horse archers were less richly adorned than
those of the bowmen who rode in chariots, but still they were in almost
every case more or less patterned. The rosette and the band here too
constituted the chief resource of the artist, who, however, often
introduced with good effect other well-known ornaments, as the
guilloche, the boss and cross, the zigzag, etc.

Sometimes the quiver had an ornamented rod attached to it, which
projected beyond the arrows and terminated in a pomegranate blossom or
other similar carving. [PLATE CV. Fig. 1]. To this rod was attached the
rings which received the quiver strap, a triple tassel hanging from them
at the point of attachment. The strap was probably of leather, and
appears to have been twisted or plaited.

[Illustration: PLATE 105]

It is uncertain whether the material of the quivers was wood or metal.
As, however, no remains of quivers have been discovered in any of the
ruins, while helmets, shields, diggers, spear-heads, and arrow-heads
have been found in tolerable abundance, we may perhaps assume that they
were of the more fragile substance, which would account for their
destruction. In this case their ornamentation may have been either by
carving or painting, the bosses and rosettes being perhaps in some cases
of metal, mother-of-pearl, or ivory. Ornaments of this kind were
discovered by hundreds at Nimrud in a chamber which contained arms of
many descriptions. Quivers have in some cases a curious rounded head,
which seems to have been a lid or cap used for covering the arrows. They
have also, occasionally, instead of this, a kind of bag at their top,
which falls backwards, and is ornamented with tassels. [PLATE CV., Fig.
2.] Both these constructions, however, are exceptional, a very large
majority of the quivers being open, and having the feathered ends of the
arrows projecting from them.

There is nothing remarkable in the Assyrian arrows except their perfect
finish and completeness in all that constitutes the excellence of such a
weapon. The shaft was thin and straight, and was probably of reed, or of
some light and tough wood. The head was of metal, either of bronze or
iron, and was generally diamond-shaped, like a miniature spear-head.
[PLATE CV., Fig. 4. ] It was flattish, and for greater strength had
commonly a strongly raised line down the centre. The lower end was
hollowed, and the shaft was inserted into it. The notching and
feathering of the shaft were carefully attended to. It is doubtful
whether three feathers were used, as by ourselves and by the Egyptians,
or two only as by many nations. The fact that we never see more than
two feathers upon the monuments cannot be considered decisive, since the
Assyrian artists, from their small knowledge of perspective, would have
been unable to represent all three feathers. So far as we can judge from
the representations, it would seem that the feathers were glued to the
wood exactly as they are with ourselves. The notch was somewhat large,
projecting beyond the line of the shaft--a construction rendered
necessary by the thickness of the bowstring., which was seldom less than
of the arrow it-self. [PLATE CV., Fig. 5.]

The mode of drawing the bow was peculiar. It was drawn neither to the
ear, nor to the breast, but to the shoulder. In the older sculptures the
hand that draws it is represented in a curiously cramped and unnatural
position, which can scarcely be supposed to be true to nature. But in
the later bas-reliefs greater accuracy seems to have been attained, and
there we probably see the exact mode in which the shooting was actually
managed. The arrow was taken below the feathers by the thumb and
forefinger of the right hand, the forefinger bent down upon it in the
way represented in the accompanying illustration, and the notch being
then placed upon the string, the arrow was drawn backwards by the thumb
and forefinger only, the remaining three fingers taking no part in the
operation. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 1.] The bow was grasped by the left hand
between the fingers and the muscle of the thumb, the thumb itself being
raised, and the arrow made to pass between it and the bow, by which it
was kept in place and prevented from slipping. The arrow was then drawn
till the cold metal head touched the forefinger of the left hand, upon
which the right hand quitted its hold, and the shaft sped on its way. To
save the left arm from being bruised or cut by the bowstring, a guard,
often simply yet effectively ornamented, was placed upon it, at one end
passing round the thumb and at the other round the arm a little above
the elbow. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: PLATE 106]

The Assyrians had two kinds of spears, one a comparatively short weapon,
varying from five to six feet in length, with which they armed a
portion of their foot soldiers, the other a weapon nine or ten feet
long, which was carried by most of their cavalry. The shaft seems in
both cases to have been of wood, and the head was certainly of metal,
either bronze or iron. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 3.] It was most usually
diamond-shaped, but sometimes the side angles were rounded off, and the
contour became that of an elongated pear. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 4.] In other
instances, the jambs of the spear-head were exceedingly short, and the
point long and tapering. The upper end of the shaft was sometimes
weighted, and it was often carved into some ornamental form, as a
fir-cone or a pomegranate blossom, while in the earlier times it was
further occasionally adorned with streamers. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 4.] The
spear of the Assyrians seems never to have been thrown, like that of the
Greeks, but was only used to thrust with, as a pike.

The common sword of the Assyrians was a short straight weapon, like the
sword of the Egyptians, or the _acinaces_ of the Persians. It was worn
at the left side, generally slung by a belt of its own which was passed
over the right shoulder, but sometimes thrust through the girdle or
(apparently) through the armor. It had a short rounded handle, more or
less ornamented [PLATE CVII.. Fig. 1], but without any cross-bar or
guard, and a short blade which tapered gradually from the handle to the
point. The swordsman commonly thrust with his weapon, but he could cut
with it likewise, for it was with this arm that the Assyrian warrior was
wont to decapitate his fallen enemy. The sheath of the sword was almost
always tastefully designed, and sometimes possessed artistic excellence
of a high order. [PLATE CVII., Fig. 3.] The favorite terminal ornament
consisted of two lions clasping one another, with their heads averted
and their mouths agape. Above this, patterns in excellent taste usually
adorned the scabbard, which moreover exhibited occasionally groups of
figures, sacred trees, and other mythological objects.

[Illustration: PLATE 107]

Instead of the short sword, the earlier warriors had a weapon of a
considerable length. This was invariably slung at the side by a
cross-belt passing over the shoulder. In its ornamentation it closely
resembled the later short sword, but its hilt was longer and more

One or two instances occur where the sword of an Assyrian warrior is
represented as curved slightly. The sheath in these cases is plain, and
terminates in a button. [PLATE CVII, Fig. 5.]

The Assyrian mace was a short thin weapon, and must either have been
made of a very tough wood, or--and this is more probable of metal.
[PLATE CVIII., Fig. 7.] It had an ornamented head, which was sometimes
very beautifully modelled and generally a strap or string at the lower
end, by which it could be grasped with greater firmness. Foot archers
frequently carried it in battle, especially those who were in close
attendance upon the king's person. It seems, however, not to have been
often used as a warlike weapon until the time of the latest sculptures,
when we see it wielded, generally with both hands, by a certain number
of the combatants. In peace it was very commonly borne by the royal
attendants, and it seems also to have been among the weapons used by the
monarch himself, for whom it is constantly carried by one of those who
wait most closely upon his person. [PLATE., CVIII., Fig. I.]

[Illustration: PLATE 108]

The battle-axe was a weapon but rarely employed by the Assyrians. It is
only in the very latest sculptures and in a very few instances that we
find axes represented as used by the warriors for any other purpose
besides the felling of trees. Where they are seen in use against the
enemy, the handle is short, the head somewhat large, and the weapon
wielded with one hand. Battle-axes had heads of two kinds. [PLATE
CVIII., Fig. 1.] Some were made with two blades, like the _bipennis_ of
the Romans. and the _labra_ of the Lydians and Carians; others more
nearly resembled the weapons used by our own knights in the middle ages,
having a single blade, and a mere ornamental point on the other side of
the haft.

The dagger was worn by the Assyrian kings at almost all times in their
girdles, and was further often assigned to the mythic winged beings,
hawk headed or human-headed, which occur so frequently in the
sculptures; but it seems to have been very seldom carried by subjects.
It had commonly a straight handle, slightly concave, and very richly
chased, exhibiting the usual Assyrian patterns, rosettes, chevrons,
guilloches, pine-cones, and the like. [PLATE CVII., Fig. 6.] Sometimes,
however, it was still more artistically shaped, being cast into the form
of a horse's head and neck. In this case there was occasionally a chain
attached at one end to the horse's chin, and at the other to the bottom
of his neck, which, passing outside the hand, would give it a firmer
hold on the weapon. The sheaths of daggers seem generally to have been
plain, or nearly so, but occasionally they terminated in the head of an
animal, from whose mouth depended a tassel. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 2.]

Though the Assyrian troops were not marshalled by the aid of standards,
like the Roman and the Egyptian, yet still a kind of standard is
occasionally to be recognized in the bas-reliefs. This consists of a
pole of no great height, fixed upright at the front of a chariot,
between the charioteer and the warrior, and carrying at the top a
circular frame, within which are artistic representations of gods or
sacred animals. Two bulls, back to back, either trotting or running at
speed, are a favorite device. Above there sometimes stands a figure in a
horned cap, shooting his arrows against the enemy. Occasionally only one
bull is represented, and the archer shoots standing upon the bull's
back. Below the circular framework are minor ornaments, as lions' and
bulls' heads, or streamers adorned with tassels. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 2.]

We do not obtain much information from the monuments with respect to the
military organization or the the tactics of the Assyrians. It is clear,
however, that they had advanced beyond the first period in military
matters, when men fight in a confused mass of mingled horse, foot, and
chariots, heavy-armed and light-armed spear-men, archers, and stingers,
each standing and moving as mere chance may determine. It is even
certain that they had advanced beyond the second period, when the
phalanx order of battle is adopted, the confused mass being replaced by
a single serried body presenting its best armed troops to the enemy, and
keeping in the rear, to add their weight to the charge, the weaker and
more imperfectly protected. It was not really left for Cyaxares the Mede
to be the first to organize an Asiatic army--to divide the troops into
companies and form distinct bodies of the spearmen, the archers, and the
cavalry. The Assyrian troops were organized in this way, at least from
the time of Sennacherib, on whose sculptures we find, in the first
place, bodies of cavalry on the march unaccompanied by infantry;
secondly, engagements where cavalry only are acting against the enemy;
thirdly, long lines of spearmen on foot marching in double file, and
sometimes divided into companies; and, fourthly, archers drawn up
together, but similarly divided into companies, each distinguished by
its own uniform. We also meet with a corps of pioneers, wearing a
uniform and armed only with a hatchet, and with bodies of slingers, who
are all armed and clothed alike. If, in the battles and the sieges of
this time, the troops seem to be to a great extent confused together, we
may account for it partly by the inability of the Assyrian artists to
represent bodies of troops in perspective, partly by their not aiming at
an actual, but rather at a typical representation of events, and partly
also by their fondness for representing, not the preparation for battle
or its first shock, but the rout and flight of the enemy and their own
hasty pursuit of them.

The wars of the Assyrians, like those of ancient Rome, consisted of
annual inroads into the territories of their neighbors, repeated year
after year, till the enemy was exhausted, sued for peace, and admitted
the suzerainty of the more powerful nation. The king in person usually
led forth his army, in spring or early summer, when the mountain passes
were opened, and, crossing his own borders, invaded some one or other of
the adjacent countries. The monarch himself invariably rode forth in his
chariot, arrayed in his regal robes, and with the tiara upon his head:
he was accompanied by numerous attendants, and generally preceded and
followed by the spearmen of the Royal Guard, and a detachment of
horse-archers. Conspicuous among the attendants were the charioteer who
managed the reins, and the parasol-bearer, commonly a eunuch, who,
standing in the chariot behind the monarch, held the emblem of
sovereignty over his head. A bow-bearer, a quiver-bearer, and a
mace-bearer were usually also in attendance, walking before or behind
the chariot of the king, who, however, did not often depend for arms
wholly upon them, but carried a bow in his left hand, and one or more
arrows in his right, while he had a further store of the latter either
in or outside his chariot. Two or three led horses were always at hand,
to furnish a means of escape in any difficulty. The army, marshalled in
its several corps, in part preceded the royal _cortege_, in part
followed at a little distance behind it.

On entering the enemy's country, if a wooded tract presented itself, the
corps of pioneers was thrown out in advance, and cleared away the
obstructions. When a river was reached too deep to be forded, the horses
were detached from the royal and other chariots by grooms and
attendants; the chariots themselves were embarked upon boats and rowed
across the stream; while the horses, attached by ropes to a post near
the stern of the boat, swam after it. The horses of the cavalry were
similarly drawn across by their riders. The troops, both cavalry and
infantry, and the attendants, a very numerous body, swam the stream,
generally upon inflated skins, which they placed under them, holding the
neck in their left hand, and sometimes increasing the inflation as they
went by applying the orifice at the top of the neck to their mouths.
[PLATE CVIII., Fig. 3.] We have no direct evidence as to the mode in
which the baggage of an army, which must have been very considerable,
was conveyed, either along the general line of route, or when it was
necessary to cross a river. We may conjecture that in the latter case it
was probably placed upon rafts supported on inflated skins, such as
those which conveyed stones from distant quarries to be used in the
Assyrian buildings. In the former, we may perhaps assume that the
conveyance was chiefly by beasts of burden, camels and asses, as the
author of the book of Judith imagined. Carts may have been used to some
extent; since they were certainly employed to convey back to Assyria the
spoil of the conquered nations.

[Illustration: PLATE 109]

It does not appear whether the army generally was provided with tents or
not. Possibly the bulk of the soldiers may have bivouacked in the open
field, unless when they were able to obtain shelter in towns or villages
taken from the enemy. Tents, however, were certainly provided for the
monarch and his suite. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 1.] Like the tents of the
Romans, these appear to have been commonly pitched within a fortified
enclosure, which was of an oval shape. They were disposed in rows, and
were all nearly similar in construction and form, the royal tent being
perhaps distinguished from the others by a certain amount of
ornamentation and by a slight superiority of size. The material used for
the covering was probably felt. All the tents were made open to the sky
in the centre, but closed in at either extremity with a curious
semicircular top. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 1.] The two tops were unequal of
size. Internally, either both of them, or at any rate the larger ones,
were supported by a central pole, which threw out branches in different
directions resembling the branches of a tree or the spokes of a parasol.
Sometimes the walls of the tent had likewise the support of poles, which
were kept in place by ropes passed obliquely from the top of each to the
ground in front of them, and then firmly secured by pegs. Each tent had
a door, square-headed, which was placed at the side, near the end which
had the smaller covering. The furniture of tents consisted of tables,
couches, footstools, and domestic utensils of various kinds. [PLATE
CIX., Fig. 1.] Within the fortified enclosure, but outside the tents,
were the chariot and horses of the monarch, an altar where sacrifice
could be made, and a number of animals suitable for food, as oxen,
sheep, and goats.

It appears that occasionally the advance of the troops was along a road.
Ordinarily, however, they found no such convenience, but had to press
forward through woods and over mountains as they best could. Whatever
the obstructions, the chariot of the monarch was in some way or other
conveyed across them, though it is difficult to suppose that he could
have always remained, as he is represented, seated in it. Probably he
occasionally dismounted, and made use of one of the led horses by which
he was always accompanied, while sometimes he even condescended to
proceed on foot. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 2.] Tile use of palanquins or litters
seem not to have been known to the Assyrians, though it was undoubtedly
very ancient in Asia; but the king was sometimes carried on men's
shoulders, seated on his throne in the way that we see the enthroned
gods borne in many of the sculptures.

The first object in entering a country was to fight, if possible, a
pitched battle with the inhabitants. The Assyrians were always confident
of victory in such an encounter, being better armed, better disciplined,
and perhaps of stronger frames than any of their neighbors. There is no
evidence to show how their armies were drawn up, or how the troops were
handled in an engagement; but it would seem that in most cases, after a
longer or a shorter resistance, the enemy broke and fled, sometimes
throwing away his arms, at other tunes fighting as he retired, always
vigorously pursued by horse and foot, and sometimes driven headlong into
a river. Quarter was not very often given in a battle. The barbarous
practice of rewarding those who carried back to camp the heads of foemen
prevailed; and this led to the massacre in many cases even of the
wounded, the disarmed, and the unresisting, though occasionally quarter
was given, more especially to generals and other leading personages whom
it was of importance to take alive. Even while the engagement continued,
it would seem that soldiers might quit the ranks, decapitate a fallen
foe, and carry off his head to the rear, without incurring any reproof;
and it is certain that, so soon as the engagement was over, the whole
army turned to beheading the fallen, using for this purpose the short
sword which almost every warrior carried at his left side. A few unable
to obtain heads, were forced to be content with gathering the spoils of
the slain and of the fled, especially their arms, such as quivers, hews,
helmets, and the like; while their more fortunate comrades, proceeding
to an appointed spot in the rear, exhibited the tokens of their valor,
or of their good luck, to the royal scribes, who took an exact account
of the amount, of the spoil, and of the number of the enemy killed.

When the enemy could no longer resist in the open field, he usually fled
to his strongholds. Almost all the nations with whom the Assyrians waged
their wars possessed fortified cities, or castles, which seem to have
been places constructed with a good deal of skill, and possessed of no
inconsiderable strength. According to the representations of the
sculptures, they were all nearly similar in character, the defences
consisting of high battlemented walls, pierced with loopholes or windows
towards their upper part, and flanked at intervals along their whole
course by towers. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 3.] Often they possessed two or more
_enceintes_, which in the bas-reliefs are represented one above the
other; and in these cases the outermost circuit was sometimes a mere
plain continuous wall, as in the illustration. They were entered by
large gateways, most commonly arched, and closed by two huge gates or
doors, which completely filled up the aperture. Occasionally, however,
the gateways were square-headed, as in the illustration, where there
occurs, moreover, a very curious ornamentation of the battlements.
[PLATE CX., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 110]

These fortified places the Assyrians attacked in three principal ways.
Sometimes they endeavored to take them by escalade, advancing for this
purpose a number of long ladders against different parts of the walls,
thus distracting the enemy's attention and seeking to find a weak point.
Up the ladders proceeded companies of spearmen and archers in
combination, the spearmen invariably taking the lead, since their large
shields afforded them a protection which archers advancing in file up a
ladder could not have. Meanwhile from below a constant discharge was
kept up by bowmen and slingers, the former of whom were generally
protected by the _gerrhon_ or high wicker shield, held in front of them
by a comrade. The besieged endeavored to dislodge and break the ladders,
which are often represented in fragments; or, failing in this attempt,
sought by hurling down large stones, and by discharges from their bows
and slings, to precipitate and destroy their assailants. If finally they
were unable by these means to keep the Assyrians from reaching the
topmost rounds of the ladders, they had recourse to their spears, and
man to man, spear to spear, and shield to shield, they still struggled
to defend themselves. The Assyrians always represent the sieges which
they conduct as terminating successfully: but we may be tolerably sure
that in many instances the invader was beaten back, and forced to
relinquish his prey, or to try fresh methods of obtaining it.

If the escalade failed, or if it was thought unadvisable to attempt it,
the plan most commonly adopted was to try the effect of the
battering-ram. [PLATE CX., Fig. 3.] The Assyrian armies were abundantly
supplied with these engines, of which we see as many as seven engaged in
a single siege. They were variously designed and arranged. Some had a
head shaped like the point of a spear; others, one more resembling the
end of a blunderbuss. All of them were covered with a frame-work, which
was of ozier, wood, felt, or skins, for the better protection of those
who worked the implement; but some appear to have been stationary,
having their framework resting on the ground itself, while others were
moveable, being provided with wheels, which in the early times were six,
but in the later times four only. Again, sometimes, combined with the
ram and its framework was a moveable tower containing soldiers, who at
once fought the enemy on a level, and protected the engine from their
attacks. Fire was the weapon usually turned against the ram, torches,
burning tow, or other inflammable substances being cast from the walls
upon its framework, which, wherever it was of ozier or of wood, could be
easily set alight and consumed. To prevent this result, the workers of
the ram were sometimes provided with a supply of water, which they could
direct through leathern or metal pipes against the combustibles. At
other times they sought to protect themselves by suspending from a pole
in front of their engine a curtain of cloth, leather, or some other
non-inflammable substance.

Another mode of meeting the attacks of the battering-ram was by catching
the point with a chain suspended by its two ends from the walls, and
then, when the ram was worked, diverting the stroke by drawing the head
upwards. To oppose this device, the besiegers provided some of their
number with strong metal hooks, and stationed them below the ram, where
they watched for the descent of the chain. As soon as ever it caught the
head of the ram, they inserted their hooks into its links, and then
hanging upon it with their whole weight, prevented its interference with
the stroke.

Battering-rams were frequently used against the walls from the natural
ground at their foot. Sometimes, however, the besiegers raised vast
mounds against the ramparts, and advanced their engines up these, thus
bringing theirs on a level with the upper and weaker portions of the
defences. Of this nature probably were the mounds spoken of in Scripture
as employed by the Babylonians and Egyptians, as well as the Assyrians,
in their sieges of cities. The intention was not so much to pile up the
mounds till they were on a level with the top of the walls as to work
the battering-ram with greater advantage from them. A similar use was
made of mounds by the Peloponnesian Greeks, who nearly succeeded in
taking Plataea in this way. The mounds were not always composed entirely
of earth; the upper portion was often made of several layers of stone or
brick, arranged in regular order, so as to form a sort of paved road, up
which the rams might be dragged with no great difficulty. Trees, too,
were sometimes cut down and built into the mound.

Besides battering-rams, the Assyrians appear to have been acquainted
with an engine resembling the catapult, or rather the _balista_ of the
Romans. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 1.] This engine, which was of great height,
and threw stones of a large size, was protected, like the ram, by a
framework, apparently of wood, covered with canvas, felt, or hides. The
stones thrown from the engine were of irregular shape, and it was able
to discharge several at the same time. The besiegers worked it from a
mound or inclined plane, which enabled them to send their missiles to
the top of the ramparts. It had to be' brought very close to the walls
in order to be effective--a position which gave the besieged an
opportunity of assailing it by fire. Perhaps it was this liability which
caused the infrequent use of the engine in question, which is rare upon
the earlier, and absent from the later, sculptures.

The third mode of attack employed by the Assyrians in their sieges of
fortified places was the mine. While the engines were in full play, and
the troops drawn up around the place assailed the defenders of the walls
with their slings and bows, warriors, singly, or in twos and threes,
advanced stealthily to the foot of the ramparts, and either with their
swords and the points of their spears, or with implements better suited
for the purpose, such as crowbars and pickaxes, attacked the foundations
of the walls, endeavoring to remove the stones one by one, and so to
force an entrance. While thus employed, the assailant commonly either
held his shield above him as a protection or was guarded by the shield
of a comrade; or, finally, if he carried the curved _gerrhon_, leant it
against the wall, and then placed himself under its shelter. [PLATE CX.,
Fig. 2.] Sometimes, however, he dispensed with the protection of a
shield altogether, and, trusting his helmet and coat of mail, which
covered him at all vital points, pursued his labor without paying any
attention to the weapons aimed at him by the enemy.

Occasionally the efforts of the besiegers were directed against the
gates, which they endeavored to break open with axes, or to set on fire
by an application of the torch. From this latter circumstance we may
gather that the gates were ordinarily of wood, not, like those of
Babylon and Veii, of brass. In the hot climate of Southern Asia wood
becomes so dry by exposure to the sun that the most solid doors may
readily be ignited and consumed.

[Illustration: PLATE 111]

When at last the city or castle was by some of these means reduced, and
the garrison consented to surrender itself, the work of demolition,
already begun, was completed. Generally the place was set on fire;
sometimes workmen provided with pickaxes and other tools mounted upon
the ramparts and towers, hurled down the battlements, broke breaches in
the walls, or even levelled the whole building. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 1.]
Vengeance was further taken by the destruction of the valuable trees in
the vicinity, more especially the highly prized date-palms, which were
cut with hatchets half through their stems at the distance of about two
feet from the ground, and then pulled or pushed down. [PLATE CXI., Fig.
2.] Other trees were either treated similarly, or denuded of their
branches. Occasionally the destruction was of a less wanton and vengeful
character. Timber-trees were cut down for transport to Assyria, where
they were used in the construction of the royal-palaces; and fruit-trees
were occasionally taken up by the roots, removed carefully, and planted
in the gardens and orchards of the conquerors. Meanwhile there was a
general plundering of the captured place. The temples were entered, and
the images of the gods, together, with the sacred vessels, which were
often of gold and silver, were seized and carried off in triumph.
[PLATE CXI., Fig. 4.] This was not mere cupidity. It was regarded as of
the utmost importance to show that the gods of the Assyrians were
superior to those of other countries, who were powerless to protect
either their votaries or even themselves from the irresistible might of
the servants of Asshur. The ordinary practice was to convey the images
of the foreign gods from the temples of the captured places to Assyria,
and there to offer then at the shrines of the principal Assyrian
deities. Hence the special force of the proud question, "Where _are_ the
gods of Hanath and of Arpad? _Where are_ the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena,
and Ivah? Where are they but carried captive to Assyria, prisoners and
slaves in the temples of those deities whose power they ventured to

The houses of the city were also commonly plundered, and everything of
value in them was carried off. Long files of men, each bearing some
article of furniture out of the gate of a captured town, are frequent
upon the bas-reliefs, where we likewise often observe in the train of a
returning army carts laden with household stuff of every kind,
alternating with long strings of captives. All the spoil seems to have
been first brought by the individual plunderers to one place, where it
was carefully sorted and counted in the presence and under the
superintendence of royal scribes, who took an exact inventory of the
whole before it was carried away by its captors. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 3.]
Scales were used to determine the weight of articles made of the
precious metals, which might otherwise have been subjected to clipping.
We may conclude from these practices that a certain proportion of the
value of all private spoil was either due to the royal treasury, or
required to be paid to the gods in acknowledgment of their aid and
protection. Besides the private spoil, there was a portion which was
from the first set apart exclusively for the monarch. This consisted
especially of the public treasure of the captured city, the gold and
silver, whether in bullion, plate, or ornaments, from the palace of its
prince, and the idols, and probably the other valuables from the

The inhabitants of a captured place were usually treated with more or
less of severity. Those regarded as most responsible for the resistance
or the rebellion were seized; generally their hands were manacled either
before them or behind their backs, while sometimes fetters were attached
to their feet, and even rings passed through their lips, and in this
abject guise they were brought into the presence of the Assyrian king.
Seated on his throne in his fortified camp without the place, and
surrounded by his attendants, he received them one by one, and instantly
pronounced their doom. On some he proudly placed his foot, some he
pardoned, a few he ordered for execution, many he sentenced to be torn
from their homes and carried into slavery.

Various modes of execution seem to have been employed in the case of
condemned captives. One of them was empalement. This has always been,
and still remains, a common mode of punishment in the East; but the
manner of empaling which the Assyrians adopted was peculiar. They
pointed a stake at one end, and, having fixed the other end firmly into
the ground, placed their criminal with the pit of his stomach upon the
point, and made it enter his body just below the breastbone. This method
of empaling must have destroyed life tolerably soon, and have thus been
a far less cruel punishment than the crucifixion of the Romans. We do
not observe it very often in the Assyrian sculptures, nor do we ever see
it applied to more than a few individuals. It was probably reserved for
those who were considered the worst criminals. Another very common mode
of executing captives was by beating in their skulls with a mace. In
this case the victim commonly knelt; his two hands were placed before
him upon a block or cushion: behind him stood two executioners, one of
whom held him by a cord round the neck, while the other, seizing his
back hair in one hand, struck him a furious blow upon the head with a
mace which he held in the other. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 5.] It must have been
rarely, if ever, that a second blow was needed.

Decapitation was less frequently practised. The expression, indeed. "I
cut off their heads," is common in the Inscriptions but in most
instances it evidently refers to the practice, already noticed, of
collecting the heads of those who had fallen in battle. Still there are
instances, both in the Inscriptions and in the sculptures, of what
appears to have been a formal execution of captives by beheading. In
these cases the criminal, it would seem, stood upright, or bending a
little forwards, and the executioner, taking him by a lock of hair with
his left hand, struck his head from his shoulders with a short sword,
which he held in his right. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 5.]

It is uncertain whether a punishment even more barbarous than these was
not occasionally resorted to. In two or three bas-reliefs executioners
are represented in the act of flaying prisoners with a knife. The bodies
are extended upon the ground or against a wall, to which they are
fastened by means of four pegs attached by strings or thongs to the two
wrists and the two ankles. The executioner leans over the victim, and
with his knife detaches the skin from the flesh. One would trust that
this operation was not performed until life was extinct. We know that it
was the practice of the Persians, and even of the barbarous Scythians,
to flay the corpses, and not the living forms, of criminals and of
enemies; we may hope, therefore, that the Assyrians removed the skin
from the dead, to use it as a trophy or as a warning, and did not
inflict so cruel a torture on the living.

Sometimes the punishment awarded to a prisoner was mutilation instead of
death. Cutting off the ears close to the head, blinding the eyes with
burning-irons, cutting off the nose, and plucking out the tongue by the
roots, have been in all ages favorite Oriental punishments. We have
distinct evidence that some at least of these cruelties were practised
by the Assyrians. Asshur-izir-pal tells us in his great Inscription that
he often cut off the noses and the ears of prisoners; while a slab of
Asshur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, shows a captive in the hands of
the torturers, one of whom holds his head firm and fast, while another
thrusts his hand into his mouth for the purpose of tearing out the

The captives carried away by the conquerors consisted of men, women, and
children. The men were formed into bands, under the conduct of officers,
who urged theme forward on their way by blows, with small regard to
their sufferings. Commonly they were conveyed to the capital, where they
were employed by the monarchs in the lower or higher departments of
labor, according to their capacities. The skilled workmen were in
request to assist in the ornamentation of shrines and palaces, while the
great mass of the unskilled were made use of to quarry and drag stone,
to raise mounds, make bricks, and the like. Sometimes, instead of being
thus employed in task-work in or near the capital, the captives were
simply settled in new regions, where it was thought that they would
maintain the Assyrian power against native malcontents. Thus Esarhaddon
planted Babylonians, Susanchites, Dehavites, Elamites, and others in
Samaria, while Sargon settled his Samaritan captives in Gauzanitis and
in "the cities of the Medes."

[Illustration: PLATE 112]

The women and children carried off by the conquerors were treated with
more tenderness than the men. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 2.] Sometimes on foot,
but often mounted on mules, or seated in carts drawn by bullocks or
asses, they followed in the train of their new masters, not always
perhaps unwilling to exchange the monotony of domestic life at home for
the excitement of a new and unknown condition in a fresh country. We
seldom see them exhibiting any signs of grief. The women and children
are together, and the mothers lavish on their little ones the usual
caresses and kind offices, taking them in their laps, giving then the
breast, carrying them upon their shoulders, or else leading them by the
hand. At intervals they were allowed to stop and rest; and it was not
even the practice to deprive them of such portion of their household
stuff as they might have contrived to secure before quitting their
homes. This they commonly bore in a bag or sack, which was either held
in the hand or thrown over one shoulder, When they reached Assyria, it
would seem that they were commonly assigned as wives to the soldiers of
the Assyrian army.

Together with their captives, the Assyrians carried off vast quantities
of the domesticated animals, such as oxen, sheep, goats, horses, asses,
camels, and mules. The numbers mentioned in the Inscriptions are
sometimes almost incredible. Sennacherib, for instance, says that in one
foray he bore off from the tribes on the Euphrates "7200 horses and
mares, 5230 camels, 11,000 mules, 120,000 oxen, and 800,000 sheep"!
Other kings omit particulars, but speak of the captured animals which
they led away as being "too numerous to be counted," or "countless as
the stars of heaven." The Assyrian sculptors are limited by the nature
of their art to comparatively small numbers, but they show us horses,
camels, and mules in the train of a returning army, together with groups
of the other animals, indicative of the vast flocks and herds
continually mentioned in the Inscriptions.

Occasionally the monarchs were not content with bringing home
domesticated animals only, but took the trouble to transport from
distant regions into Assyria wild beasts of various kinds.
Tiglath-Pileser I. informs us in general terms that, besides carrying
off the droves of the horses, cattle, and asses that he obtained from
the subjugated countries, he "took away and drove off the herds of the
wild goats and the ibexes, the wild sheep and the wild cattle;" and
another monarch mentions that in one expedition he carried off from the
middle Euphrates a drove of forty wild cattle, and also a flock of
twenty ostriches. The object seems to have been to stock Assyria with a
variety and an abundance of animals of chase.

The foes of the Assyrians would sometimes, when hard pressed, desert the
dry land, and betake themselves to the marshes, or cross the sea to
islands where they trusted that they might be secure from attack. Not
unfrequently they obtained their object by such a retreat, for the
Assyrians were not a maritime people. Sometimes, however, they were
pursued. The Assyrians would penetrate into the marshes by means of reed
boats, probably not very different from the _terradas_ at present in use
among the Arabs of the Mesopotamian marsh districts. Such boats are
represented upon the bas-reliefs as capable of holding from three to
five armed men. On these the Assyrian foot-soldiers would embark, taking
with them a single boatman to each boat, who propelled the vessel much
as a Venetian gondolier propels his gondola, i.e., with a single long
oar or paddle, which he pushed from him standing at the stern. They
would then in these boats attack the vessels of the enemy, which are
always represented as smaller than theirs, run them down or board them,
kill their crews or force them into the water, or perhaps allow them to
surrender. Meanwhile, the Assyrian cavalry was stationed round the marsh
among the tall reeds which thickly clothed its edge, ready to seize or
slay such of the fugitives as might escape from the foot.

When the refuge sought was an island, if it lay near the shore, the
Assyrians would sometimes employ the natives of the adjacent coast to
transport beams of wood and other materials by means of their boats, in
order to form a sort of bridge or mole reaching from the mainland to the
isle whereto their foes had fled. Such a design was entertained, or at
least professed, by Xerxes after the destruction of his fleet in the
battle of Salamis, and it was successfully executed by Alexander the
Great, who took in this way the new or island of Tyre. From a series of
reliefs discovered at Khorsabad wo may conclude that more than two
hundred years before the earlier of these two occasions, the Assyrians
had conceived the idea, and even succeeded in carrying out the plan, of
reducing islands near the coast by moles.

Under the Chaldaeans, whose "cry was in their ships," the Assyrians seem
very rarely to have adventured themselves upon the deep. If their
enemies fled to islands which could not be reached by moles, or to lands
across the sea, in almost every instance they escaped. Such escapes are
represented upon the sculptures, where we see the Assyrians taking a
maritime town at one end, while at the other the natives are embarking
their women and children, and putting to sea, without any pursuit being
made after them. In none of the bas-reliefs do we observe any sea-going
vessels with Assyrians on board and history tells us of but two or three
expeditions by sea in which they took part. One of these was an
expedition by Sennacharib against the coast of the Persian Gulf, to
which his Chaldaean enemies had fled. On this occasion he brought
shipwrights from Phoenicia to Assyria, and made them build him ships
there, which were then launched upon the Tigris, and conveyed down to
the sea. With a fleet thus constructed, and probably manned, by
Phoenicians, Sennacherib crossed to the opposite coast, defeated the
refugees, and embarking his prisoners on board, returned in triumph to
the mainland. Another expedition was that of Shalmaneser IV. against the
island Tyre. Assyrians are said to have been personally engaged in it;
but here again we are told that they embarked in ships furnished to then
by the Phoenicians, and maimed chiefly by Phoenician sailors.

When a country was regarded as subjugated, the Assyrian monarch commonly
marked the establishment of his sovereignty by erecting a memorial in
some conspicuous or important situation within the territory conquered,
as an enduring sign of his having taken possession. These memorials were
either engraved on the natural rock or on solid blocks of stone cut into
the form of a broad low stele. They contained a figure of the king,
usually enclosed in an arched frame; and an inscription, of greater or
less length, setting forth his name, his titles, and some of his
exploits. More than thirty such memorials are mentioned in the extant
Inscriptions, and the researches of recent times have recovered some ten
or twelve of them. They uniformly represent the king in his sacerdotal
robes, with the sacred collar round his neck, and the emblems of the
gods above his head, raising the right hand in the act of adoration, as
if he were giving thanks to Asshur and his guardian deities on account
of his successes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It is now time to pass from the military customs of the Assyrians to a
consideration of their habits and usages in time of peace, so far as
they are made known to us either by historical records or by the
pictorial evidence of the has reliefs. And here it may be convenient to
treat separately of the public life of the king and court, and of the
private life of the people.

In Assyria, as in most Oriental countries, the keystone of the social
arch, the central point of the system, round which all else revolved,
and on which all else depended, was the monarch. "_L'etat, c'est moi_"
might have been said with more truth by an Assyrian prince than even by
the "_Grand Monarque_," whose dictum it is reported to have been. Alike
in the historical notices, and in the sculptures, we have the person of
the king presented to us with consistent prominence, and it is
consequently with him that we most naturally commence the present
portion of our inquiry.

The ordinary dress of the monarch in time of peace was a long flowing
robe, reaching to the ankles, elaborately patterned and fringed, over
which was worn, first, a broad belt, and then a species of open mantle,
or chasuble, very curiously contrived. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 3.] This
consisted mainly of two large flaps, both of which were commonly
rounded, though sometimes one of them was square at bottom. These fell
over the robe in front and behind, leaving the sides open, and so
exposing the under dress to view. The two flaps must have been sewn
together at the places marked with the dotted lines _a b_ and _c d_, the
space from _a_ to _c_ being left open, and the mantle passed by that
means over the head. At _d g_ there was commonly a short sleeve _(h)_,
which covered the upper part of the left arm, but the right arm was left
free, the mantle falling of either side of it. Sometimes, besides the
flaps, the mantle seems to have had two pointed wings attached to the
shoulders (_a f b_ and _c e h_ in the illustration), which were made to
fall over in front. Occasionally there was worn above the chasuble a
broad diagonal belt ornamented with a deep fringe and sometimes there
depended at the back of the dress a species of large hood.

The special royal head-dress was a tall mitre or tiara, which at first
took the shape of the head, but rose above it to a certain height in a
gracefully curved line, when it was covered in with a top, flat, like
that of a hat, but having a projection towards the centre, which rose up
into a sort of apex, or peak, not however pointed, but either rounded or
squared off. The tiara was generally ornamented with a succession of
bands, between which were commonly patterns more or less elaborate.
Ordinarily the lowest band, instead of running parallel with the others,
rose with a gentle curve towards the front, allowing room for a large
rosette over the forehead, and for other similar ornaments. If we may
trust the representations on the enamelled bricks, supported as they are
to some extent by the tinted reliefs, we may say that the tiara was of
three colors, red, yellow, and white. The red and white alternated in
broad bands; the ornaments upon them were yellow, being probably either
embroidered on the material of the head-dress in threads of gold, or
composed of thin gold plates which may have been sown on. The general
material of the tiara is likely to have been cloth or felt; it can
scarcely have been metal, if the deep crimson tint of the bricks and the
reliefs is true. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 4.]

In the early sculptures the tiara is more depressed than in the later,
and it is also less richly ornamented. It has seldom more than two
bands, viz., a narrow one at top, and at bottom a broader curved one,
rising towards the front. To this last are attached two long strings or
lappets, which fall behind the monarch's back to a level with his elbow.
[PLATE CXIII., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 113]

Another head-dress which the monarch sometimes wore was a sort of band
or fillet. This was either elevated in front and ornamented with a
single rosette, like the lowest band of the tiara, or else of uniform
width and patterned along its whole course. In either case there
depended from it, on each side of the back hair, a long ribbon or
streamer, fringed at the end and sometimes ornamented with a delicate
pattern. [PLATE CXIII., Fig 2.]

The monarch's feet were protected by sandals or shoes. In the early
sculptures sandals only appear in use, shoes being unknown (as it would
seem) until the time of Sennacherib. The sandals worn were of two kinds.
The simplest sort had a very thin sole and a small cap for the heel,
made apparently of a number of strips of leather sewn together. It was
held in place by a loop over the great-toe, attached to the fore part of
the sole, and by a string which was laced backwards and forwards across
the instep, and then tied in a bow. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 4.]

The other kind of sandal had a very different sort of sole; it was of
considerable thickness, especially at the heel, from which it gradually
tapered to the toe. Attached to this was an upper leather which
protected the heel and the whole of the side of the foot, but left the
toes and the instep exposed. A loop fastened to the sole received the
great-toe, and at the point where the loop was inserted two straps were
also made fast, which were then carried on either side the great-toe to
the top of the foot, where they crossed each other, and, passing twice
through rings attached to the edge of the upper leather, were finally
fastened, probably by a buckle, at the top of the instep. [PLATE CXIII.,
Fig. 6.]

The shoe worn by the later kings was of a coarse and clumsy make, very
much rounded at the toe, patterned with rosettes, crescents, and the
like, and (apparently) laced in front. In this respect it differed from
the shoe of the queen, which will be represented presently, and also
from the shoes worn by the tribute-bearers. [PLATE CXIII, Fig. 5.]

The accessory portions of the royal costume were chiefly belts,
necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and earrings. Besides the belt round the
waist, in which two or three highly ornamented daggers were frequently
thrust, and the broad fringed cross-belt, of which mention was made
above, the Assyrian monarch wore a narrow cross-belt passing across his
right shoulder, from which his sword hung at his left side. This belt
was sometimes patterned with rosettes. It was worn over the front flap
of the chasuble, but under the back flap, and was crossed at right
angles by the broad fringed belt, which was passed over the right arm
and head so as to fall across the left shoulder.

The royal necklaces were of two kinds. Some consisted merely of one or
more strings of long lozenge-shaped beads slightly chased, and connected
by small links, ribbed perpendicularly. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 7.] The
other kind was a band or collar, perhaps of gold, on which were hung a
number of sacred emblems: as the crescent or emblem of the Moon-God,
Sin; the four-rayed disk, the emblem of the Sun-God, Shamas; the
six-rayed or eight-rayed disk, the emblem of Gula, the Sun-Goddess; the
horned cap, perhaps the emblem of the king's guardian genius; and the
double or triple bolt, which was the emblem of Vul, the god of the
atmosphere. This sacred collar was a part of the king's civil and not
merely of his sacerdotal dress; as appears from the fact that it was
sometimes worn when the king was merely receiving prisoners. [PLATE
CXIII., Fig. 8.]

The monarch wore a variety of armlets. The most common was a plain bar
of a single twist, the ends of which slightly overlapped each other. A
more elegant kind was similar to this, except that the bar terminated in
animal heads carefully wrought, among which the heads of rams, horses,
and ducks were the most common. A third sort has the appearance of being
composed of a number of long strings or wires, confined at intervals of
less than an inch by cross bands at right angles to the wires. This sort
was carried round the arm twice, and even then its ends overlapped
considerably. It is probable that all the armlets were of metal, and
that the appearance of the last was given to it by the workman in
imitation of an earlier and ruder armlet of worsted or leather. [PLATE
CXIV., Fig. 1. ]

[Illustration: PLATE 114]

The bracelets of the king, like his armlets, were sometimes mere bars of
metal, quite plain and without ornament. More often, however, they were
ribbed and adorned with a large rosette at the centre. Sometimes,
instead of one simple rosette, we see three double rosettes, between
which project small points, shaped like the head of a spear.
Occasionally these double rosettes appear to be set on the surface of a
broad bar, which is chased so as to represent brickwork. In no case can
we see how the bracelets were fastened; perhaps they were elastic, and
were slipped over the hand. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 3.]

Specimens of royal earrings have been already given in an earlier
chapter of this volume. The most ordinary form in the more ancient times
was a long drop, which was sometimes delicately chased Another common
kind was an incomplete Maltese cross, one arm of the four being left out
because it would have interfered with the ear. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 2.] In
later times there was a good deal of variety in the details; but the
drop and the cross were always favorite features.

When the monarch went out to the hunt or to the battle, he laid aside
such ornaments as encumbered him, reserving however his earrings,
bracelets, and armlets, and then, stripping off his upper dress or
chasuble, appeared in the under robe which has been already described.
This robe was confined at the waist by a broad cincture or girdle,
outside of which was worn a narrowish belt wherein daggers were often
thrust. In early times this cincture seems to have been fastened by a
ribbon with long streaming ends, which are very conspicuous in the
Nimrud sculptures. At the same period the monarch often wore, when he
hunted or went out to battle, a garment which might have been called an
apron, if it had not been worn behind instead of in front. This was
generally patterned and fringed very richly, besides being ornamented
with one or more long pendent tassels. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 4.]

The sacerdotal dress of the king, or that which he commonly wore when
engaged in the rites of his religion, differed considerably from his
ordinary costume. His inner garment, indeed, seems to have been the
usual long gown with a fringe descending to the ankles; but this was
almost entirely concealed under an ample outer robe, which was closely
wrapped round the form and kept in place by a girdle. A deep fringe,
arranged in two rows, one above the other, and carried round the robe in
curved sweeps at an angle with the horizontal line, is the most striking
feature of this dress, which is also remarkable for the manner in which
it confines and conceals the left arm, while the right is left free and
exposed to view. A representation of a king thus apparelled will be
found in an earlier part of this work, taken from a statue now in the
British Museum. It is peculiar in having the head uncovered, and in the
form of the implement borne in the right hand. It is also incomplete as
a representation, from the fact that all the front of the breast is
occupied by an inscription. Other examples show that the tiara was
commonly worn as a part of the sacerdotal costume; that the sacred
collar adorned the breast, necklaces the neck, and bracelets the two
arms; while in the belt, which was generally to some extent knotted,
were borne two or three daggers. The mace seems to have been a necessary
appendage to the costume, and was always grasped just below its head by
the left hand.

We have but one representation of an Assyrian queen. Despite the
well-known stories of Semiramis and her manifold exploits, it would seem
that the Assyrians secluded their females with as rigid and watchful a
jealousy as modern Turks or Persians. The care taken with respect to the
direction of the passages in the royal hareem has been noticed already.
It is quite in accordance with the spirit thus indicated, and with the
general tenor of Oriental habits, that neither in inscriptions nor in
sculptured representations do the Assyrians allow their women to make
more than a most rare and occasional appearance. Fortunately for us,
their jealousy was sometimes relaxed to a certain extent; and in one
scene, recovered from the _debris_ of an Assyrian palace we are enabled
to contemplate at once the domestic life of the monarch and the attire
and even the features of his consort.

It appears that in the private apartments, while the king, like the
Romans and the modern Orientals, reclined upon a couch leaning his
weight partly upon his left elbow, and having his right arm free and
disposable, her majesty the queen sat in a chair of state by the couch's
side, near its foot, and facing her lord. [PLATE CXV., Fig. 1.] Two
eunuchs provided with large fans were in attendance upon the monarch,
and the same number waited upon the queen, standing behind her chair.
Her majesty, whose hair was arranged nearly like that of her royal
consort, wore upon her head a band or fillet having something of the
appearance of a crown of towers, such as encircles the brow of Cybele on
Greek coins and statues. Her dress was a long-sleeved gown reaching from
the neck to the feet, flounced and trimmed at the bottom in an elaborate
way, and elsewhere patterned with rosettes, over which she wore a
fringed tunic or frock descending half-way between the knees and the
feet. [PLATE CXV., Fig. 3.] In addition to these two garments, she wore
upon her back and shoulders a light cloak or cape, patterned (like the
rest of her dress) with rosettes and edged with a deep fringe. Her feet
were encased in shoes of a clumsy make, also patterned. Her ornaments,
besides the crown upon her head, were earrings, a necklace, and
bracelets. Her hair was cushioned, and adorned with a drapery which hung
over the back. Her feet rested on a handsome footstool, also cushioned.

On the slab from which this description is taken the royal pair seem to
be refreshing themselves with wine. Each supports on the thumb and
fingers of the right hand a saucer or shallow drinking-cup, probably of
some precious metal, which they raise to their lips simultaneously, as
if they were pledging one another. The scene of the entertainment is the
palace garden; for trees grow on either side of the main figures, while
over their heads, a vine hangs its festoons and its rich clusters. By
the side of the royal couch, and in front of the queen, is a table
covered with a table-cloth, on which are a small box or casket, a
species of shallow bowl which may have held incense or perfume of some
kind, and a third article frequently seen in close proximity to the
king, but of whose use it is impossible to form a conjecture. At the
couch's head stands another curious article, a sort of tall vase
surmounted by a sugarloaf, which probably represents an altar. The king
bears in his left hand the lotus or sacred flower, while the queen holds
in hers what looks like a modern fan. All the lower part of the
monarch's person is concealed beneath a coverlet, which is plain, except
that it has tassels at the corners and an embroidered border.

The officers in close attendance upon the monarch varied according to
his employment. In war he was accompanied by his charioteer, his
shield-bearer or shield-bearers, his groom, his quiver-bearer, his
mace-bearer, and sometimes by his parasol-bearer. In peace the
parasol-bearer is always represented as in attendance, except in hunting
expeditions, or where he is replaced by a fan-bearer. The parasol, which
exactly resembled that still in use throughout the East, was reserved
exclusively for the monarch. [PLATE CXVI., Fig. 1.] It had a tall and
thick pole, which the bearer grasped with both his hands, and in the
early times a somewhat small circular top. Under the later kings the
size of the head was considerably enlarged; and, at the same time, a
curtain or flap was attached, which, falling from the edge of the
parasol, more effectually protected the monarch from the sun's rays. The
head of the parasol was fringed with tassels, and the upper extremity of
the pole commonly terminated in a flower or other ornament. In the later
time both the head and the curtain which depended from it were richly
patterned. If we may trust the remains of color upon the Khorsabad
sculptures, the tints preferred were red and white, which alternated in
bands upon the parasol as upon the royal tiara.

There was nothing very remarkable in the dress or quality of the royal
attendants. Except the groom, the charioteer, and the shield-bearers,
they were in the early times almost invariably eunuchs; but the later
kings seem to have preferred eunuchs for the offices of parasol-bearer
and fan-bearer only. The dress of the eunuchs is most commonly a long
fringed gown, reaching from the neck to the feet, with very short
sleeves, and a broad belt or girdle confining the gown at the waist.
Sometimes they have a cross-belt also; and occasionally both this and
the girdle round the waist are richly fringed. The eunuchs commonly wear
earrings, and sometimes armlets and bracelets; in a few instances they
have their necks adorned with necklaces, and their long dresses
elaborately patterned. Their heads are either bare, or at most encircled
with a fillet.

[Illustration: PLATE 115]

A peculiar physiognomy is assigned to this class of persons--the
forehead low, the nose small and rounded, the lips full, the chin large
and double, the cheeks bloated. [PLATE CXV., Fig. 2.] They are generally
represented as shorter and stouter than the other Assyrians. Though
placed in confidential situations about the person of the monarch, they
seem not to have held very high or important offices. The royal Vizier
is never a eunuch, and eunuchs are rarely seen among the soldiers; they
are scribes, cooks, musicians, perhaps priests; as they are
grooms-in-waiting, huntsmen, parasol-bearers, and fan-bearers; but it
cannot be said with truth that they had the same power in Assyria which
they have commonly possessed in the more degraded of the Oriental
monarchies. It is perhaps a sound interpretation of the name Rabsaris in
Scripture to understand it as titular, not appellative, and to translate
it "the Chief Eunuch" or "the Master of the Eunuchs;" and if so, we have
an instance of the employment by one Assyrian king of a person of this
class on an embassy to a petty sovereign: but the sculptures are far
from bearing out the notion that eunuchs held the same high position in
the Assyrian court as they have since held generally in the East, where
they have not only continually filled the highest offices of state, but
have even attained to sovereign power. On the contrary, their special
charge seems rather to have been the menial offices about the person of
the monarch, which imply confidence in the fidelity of those to whom
they are entrusted, but not submission to their influence in the conduct
of state affairs. And it is worthy of notice that, instead of becoming
more influential as time went on, they appear to have become less so; in
the later sculptures the royal attendants are far less generally eunuchs
than in the earlier ones; and the difference is most marked in the more
important offices.

[Illustration: PLATE 116]

It is not quite certain that the Chief Eunuch is represented upon the
sculptures. Perhaps we may recognize him in an attendant, who commonly
bears a fan, but whose special badge of office is a long fringed scarf
or band, which hangs down below his middle both before him and behind
him, being passed over the left shoulder. [PLATE CXVI., Fig. 2.] This
officer appears, in one bas-relief, alone in front of the king; in
another, he stands on the right hand of the Vizier, level with him,
facing the king as he drinks; in a third, he receives prisoners after a
battle; while in another part of the same sculpture he is in the king's
camp preparing the table for his master's supper. There is always a good
deal of ornamentation about his dress, which otherwise nearly resembles
that of the inferior royal attendants, consisting of a long fringed gown
or robe, a girdle fringed or plain, a cross-belt generally fringed, and
the scarf already described. His head and feet are generally bare,
though sometimes the latter are protected by sandals. He is found only
upon the sculptures of the early period.

Among the officers who have free access to the royal person, there is
one who stands out with such marked prominence from the rest that he has
been properly recognized as the Grand Vizier or prime minister at once
the chief counsellor of the monarch, and the man whose special business
it was to signify and execute his will. The dress of the Grand Vizier is
more rich than that of any other person except the monarch; and there
are certain portions of his apparel which he and the king have alone the
privilege of wearing. These are, principally, the tasselled apron and
the fringed band depending from the fillet, the former of which is found
in the early period only, while the latter belongs to no particular
time, but throughout the whole series of sculptures is the distinctive
mark of royal or quasi-royal authority. To these two may be added the
long ribbon or scarf, with double streamers at the ends, which depended
from, and perhaps fastened, the belt--a royal ornament worn also by the
Vizier in at least one representation. [PLATE CXVI., Fig. 3.]

The chief garment of the Vizier is always a long fringed robe, reaching
from the neck to the feet. This is generally trimmed with embroidery at
the top, round the sleeves, and round the bottom. It is either seen to
be confined by a broad belt round the waist, or else is covered from the
waist to the knees by two falls of a heavy and deep fringe. In this
latter case, a broad cross-belt is worn over the left shoulder, and the
upper fall of fringe hangs from the cross-belt. A fillet is worn upon
the head, which is often highly ornamented. The feet are sometimes bare,
but more often are protected by sandals, or (as in the accompanying
representation) by embroidered shoes. Earrings adorn the ears;
bracelets, sometimes accompanied by armlets, the arms. A sword is
generally worn at the left side.

The Vizier is ordinarily represented in one of two attitudes. Either he
stands with his two hands joined in front of him, the right hand in the
left, and the fingers not clasped, but left loose--the ordinary attitude
of passive and respectful attention, in which officers who carry nothing
await the orders of the king,--or he has the right arm raised, the elbow
bent, and the right hand brought to a level with his month, while the
left hand rests upon the hilt of the sword worn at his left side. [PLATE
CXVII., Fig. 1.] In this latter case it may be presumed that we have the
attitude of conversation, as in the former we have that of attentive
listening. When the Vizier assumes this energetic posture he is commonly
either introducing prisoners or bringing in spoil to the king. When he
is quiescent, he stands before the throne to receive the king's orders,
or witnesses the ceremony with which it was usual to conclude a
successful hunting expedition.

The pre-eminent rank and dignity of this officer is shown, not only by
his participation in the insignia of royal authority, but also and very
clearly by the fact that, when he is present, no one ever intervenes
between him and the king. He has the undisputed right of precedence, so
that he is evidently the first subject of the crown, and he alone, is
seen addressing the monarch. He does not always accompany the king on
his military expeditions but when he attends them, he still maintains
his position, having a dignity greater than that of any general, and so
taking the entire direction of the prisoners and of the spoil.

The royal fan-bearers were two in number. They were invariably eunuchs.
Their ordinary position was behind the monarch, on whom they attended
alike in the retirement of private life and in religious and civil
ceremonies. On some occasions, however, one of the two was privileged to
leave his station behind the king's chair or throne, and, advancing in
front, to perform certain functions before the face of his master. He
handed his master the sacred cup, and waited to receive it back, at the
same time diligently discharging the ordinary duties of his office by
keeping up a current of air and chasing away those plagues of the
East--the flies. The fan-bearer thus privileged wears always the long
tasselled scarf, which seems to have been a badge of office, and may not
improbably mark him for the chief Eunuch. In the absence of the Vizier,
or sometimes in subordination to him, he introduced the tribute-bearers
to the king, reading out their names and titles from a scroll or tablet
which he held in his left hand. [PLATE CXVII., Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: PLATE 117]

[Illustration: PLATE 118]

The fan carried by these attendants seems in most instances to have been
made of feathers. It had a shortish handle, which was generally mere or
less ornamented, and frequently terminated in the head of a ram or other
animal. [PLATE CXVIII., Fig. 1.] The feathers were sometimes of great
length, and bent gracefully by their own weight, as they were pointed
slantingly towards the monarch. Occasionally a comparatively short fan
was used, and the feathers were replaced by a sort of brush, which may
have been made of horse-hair, or possibly of some vegetable fibre.

The other attendants on the monarch require no special notice. With
regard to their number, however, it may be observed that, although the
sculptures generally do not represent them as very numerous, there is
reason to believe that they amounted to several hundreds. The enormous
size of the palaces can scarcely be otherwise accounted for: and in one
sculpture of an exceptional character, where the artist seems to have
aimed at representing his subject in full, we can count above seventy
attendants present with the monarch at one time. Of these less than
one-half are eunuch; and these wear the long robe with the fringed belt
and cross-belt. The other attendants wear in many cases the same
costume; sometimes, however, they are dressed in a tunic and greaves,
like the soldiers.

There can be no doubt that the court ceremonial of the Assyrians was
stately and imposing. The monarch seems indeed not to have affected that
privacy and seclusion which forms a predominant feature of the
ceremonial observed in most Oriental monarchies. He showed himself very
freely to his subjects on many occasions. He superintended in person the
accomplishment of his great works. In war and in the chase he rode in an
open chariot, never using a litter, though litters were not unknown to
the Assyrians. In his expeditions he would often descend from his
chariot, and march or fight on foot like the meanest of his subjects.
But though thus familiarizing the multitude with his features and
appearance, he was far from allowing familiarity of address. Both in
peace and war he was attended by various officers of state, and no one
had speech of him except through them. It would even seem as if two
persons only were entitled to open a conversation with him--the Vizier
and the Chief Eunuch. When he received them, he generally placed himself
upon his throne, sitting, while they stood to address him. It is
strongly indicative of the haughty pride of these sovereigns that they
carried with them in their distant expeditions the cumbrous thrones
whereon they were wont to sit when they dispensed justice or received
homage. On these thrones they sat, in or near their fortified camps,
when the battle or the siege was ended, and thus sitting they received
in state the spoil and the prisoners. Behind them on such occasions were
the two fan-bearers, while near at hand were guards, scribes, grooms,
and other attendants. In their palace halls undoubtedly the ceremonial
used was stricter, grander, and more imposing. The sculptures, however,
furnish no direct evidence on this point, for there is nothing to mark
the scene of the great processional pieces.

In the pseudo-history of Ctesias, the Assyrian kings were represented as
voluptuaries of the extremest kind, who passed their whole lives within
the palace, in the company of their concubines and their eunuchs,
indulging themselves in perpetual ease, pleasure, and luxury. We have
already seen how the warlike character of so many monarchs gives the lie
to these statements, so far as they tax the Assyrian kings with sloth
and idleness. It remains to examine the charge of over-addiction to
sensual delights, especially to those of the lowest and grossest
description. Now it is at least remarkable that, so far as we have any
real evidence, the Assyrian kings appear as monogamists. In the
inscription on the god Nebo, the artist dedicates his statue to his
"lord Vol-lush (?) and his _lady_, Sammuramit." In the solitary
sculptured representation of the private life of the king, he is seen in
the company of one female only. Even in the very narrative of Ctesias,
Ninus has but one wife, Semiramis; and Sardanapalus, notwithstanding his
many concubines, has but five children, three sons and two daughters. It
is not intended to press these arguments to an extreme, or to assume, on
the strength of them, that the Assyrian monarchs were really faithful to
one woman. They may have had--nay, it is probable that they had--a
certain number of concubines; but there is really not the least ground
for believing that they carried concubinage to an excess, or
over-stepped in this respect the practice of the best Eastern
sovereigns. At any rate they were not the voluptuaries which Ctesias
represented them. A considerable portion of their lives was passed in
the toils and dangers of war; and their peaceful hours, instead of being
devoted to sloth and luxury in the retirement of the palace, were
chiefly employed, as we shall presently see, in active and manly
exercises in the field, which involved much exertion and no small
personal peril.

The favorite occupation of the king in peace was the chase of the lion.
In the early times he usually started on a hunting expedition in his
chariot, dressed as when he went out to war, and attended by his
charioteer, some swordsmen, and a groom holding a led horse. He carried
a bow and arrows, a sword, one or two daggers, and a spear, which last
stood in a rest made for it at the back of the chariot. Two quivers,
each containing an axe and an abundant supply of arrows, hung from the
chariot transversely across its right side, while a shield armed with
teeth was suspended behind. When a lion was found, the king pursued it
in his chariot, letting fly his arrows as he went, and especially
seeking to pierce the animal about the heart and head. Sometimes he
transfixed the beast with three or four shafts before it succumbed.
Occasionally the lion attacked him in his chariot, and was met with
spear and shield, or with a fresh arrow, according to the exigencies of
the moment, or the monarch's preference for one or the other weapon. On
rare occasions the monarch descended to the ground, and fought on foot.
He would then engage the lion in close combat with no other weapon but a
short sword, which he strove to plunge, and often plunged, into his
heart. [PLATE CXVIII., Fig. 2.]

In the later time, though the chariot was still employed to some extent
in the lion-hunts, it appears to have been far more usual for the king
to enjoy the sport on foot. He carried a straight sword, which seems to
have been a formidable weapon; it was strong, very broad, and two feet
or a little more in length. Two attendants waited closely upon the
monarch, one of whom carried a bow and arrows, while the other was
commonly provided with one or two spears. From these attendants the king
took the bow or spear at pleasure, usually commencing the attack with
his arrows, and finally despatching the spent animal with sword or
spear, as he deemed best. Sometimes, but not very often, the spearman in
attendance carried also a shield, and held both spear and shield in
advance of his master to protect him from the animal's spring. Generally
the monarch faced the danger with no such protection, and received the
brute on his sword, or thrust him through with his pike. [PLATE CXVIII.,
Fig. 3;] [PLATE CXIX., Fig. 1.] Perhaps the sculptures exaggerate the
danger which he affronted at such moments; but we can hardly suppose
that there was not a good deal of peril incurred in these hand-to-hand

[Illustration: PLATE 119]

Two modes of hunting the king of beasts were followed at this time.
Either he was sought in his native haunts, which were then, as now, the
reedy coverts by the side of the canals and great streams; or he was
procured beforehand, conveyed to the hunting-ground, and there turned
out before the hunters. In the former case the monarch took the field
accompanied by his huntsmen and beaters on horse and foot, these last
often holding dogs in leash, which, apparently, were used only to
discover and arouse the game, but were not slipped at it when started.
No doubt the hunt was sometimes entirely on the land, the monarch
accompanying his beaters along one or other of the two banks of a canal
or stream. But a different plan is known to have been adopted on some
occasions. Disposing his beaters to the right and left upon both banks,
the monarch with a small band of attendants would take ship, and, while
his huntsmen sought to start the game on either side, he would have
himself rowed along so as just to keep pace with them, and would find
his sport in attacking such lions as took the water. The monarch's place
on these occasions was the middle of the boat. Before him and behind him
were guards armed with spears, who were thus ready to protect their
master, whether the beast attacked him in front or rear. The monarch
used a round bow, like that commonly carried in war, and aimed either at
the heart or at the head. The spearmen presented their weapons at the
same time, while the sides of the boat were also sufficiently high above
the water to afford a considerable protection against the animal's
spring. An attendant immediately behind the monarch held additional
arrows ready for him; and after piercing the noble brute with three or
four of these weapons, the monarch had commonly the satisfaction of
seeing him sink down and expire. The carcass was then taken from the
water, the fore and hind legs were lashed together with string, and the
beast was suspended from the hinder part of the boat, where he hung over
the water just out of the sweep of the oars.

At other times, when it was felt that the natural chase of the animal
might afford little or no sport, the Assyrians (as above stated) called
art to their assistance, and, having obtained a supply of lions from a
distance, brought them in traps or cages to the hunting-ground, and
there turned them out before the monarch. The walls of the cage was made
of thick spars of wood, with interstices between them, through which the
lion could both see and be seen: probably the top was entirely covered
with boards, and upon these was raised a sort of low hut or sentry-box,
just large enough to contain a man, who, when the proper moment arrived,
peeped forth from his concealment and cautiously raised the front of the
trap, which was a kind of drop-door working in a groove. [PLATE CXIX.,
Fig. 2.] The trap being thus opened, the lion stole out, looking
somewhat ashamed of his confinement, but doubtless anxious to vent his
spleen on the first convenient object. The king, prepared for his
attack, saluted him, as he left his cage, with an arrow, and, as he
advanced, with others, which sometimes stretched him dead upon the
plain, sometimes merely disabled him, while now and then they only
goaded him to fury. In this case he would spring at the royal chariot,
clutch some part of it, and in his agony grind it between his teeth, or
endeavor to reach the inmates of the car from behind. If the king had
descended from the car to the plain, the infuriated beast might make his
spring at the royal person, in which case it must have required a stout
heart to stand unmoved, and aim a fresh arrow at a vital part while the
creature was in mid-air, especially if (as we sometimes see represented)
a second lion was following close upon the first, and would have to be
received within a few seconds. It would seem that the lions on some
occasions were not to be goaded into making an attack, but simply
endeavored to escape by flight. To prevent this, troops were drawn up in
a double line of spearmen and archers round the space within which the
lions were let loose, the large shields of the front or spearmen line
forming a sort of wall, and the spears a _chevaux de frise_, through
which it was almost impossible for the beasts to break. In front of the
soldiers, attendants held hounds in leashes, which either by their
baying and struggling frightened the animals back, or perhaps assisted
to despatch them. [PLATE CXIX., Fig. 3.] The king meanwhile plied his
bow, and covered the plain with carcasses, often striking a single beast
with five or six shafts.

The number of lions destroyed at these royal _battues_ is very
surprising. In one representation no fewer than eighteen are seen upon
the field, of which eleven are dead and five seriously wounded. The
introduction of trapped beasts would seem to imply that the game, which
under the earlier monarchs had been exceedingly abundant,--failed
comparatively under the later ones, who therefore imported it from a
distance. It is evident, however, that this scarcity was not allowed to
curtail the royal amusement. To gratify the monarch, hunters sought
remote and savage districts, where the beast was still plentiful, and,
trapping their prey, conveyed it many hundreds of miles to yield a
momentary pleasure to the royal sportsman.

It is instructive to contrast with the boldness shown in the lion-hunts
of this remote period the feelings and conduct of the present
inhabitants of the region. The Arabs, by whom it is in the main
possessed, are a warlike race, accustomed from infancy to arms and
inured to combat. "Their hand is against every man, and every man's hand
is against them." Yet they tremble if a lion is but known to be near,
and can only with the utmost difficulty be persuaded by an European to
take any part in the chase of so dangerous an animal.

The lioness, no less than the lion, appears as a beast of chase upon the
sculptures. It seems that in modern times she is quite as much feared as
her consort. Indeed, when she has laid up cubs, she is even thought to
be actually the more dangerous of the two. [PLATE CXX., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 120]

Next to the chase of the lion and lioness, the early Assyrian monarchs
delighted in that of the wild bull. It is not quite certain what exact
species of animal is sought to be expressed by the representations upon
the sculptures; but on the whole it is perhaps most probable that the
Aurochs or European bison (_Bos urus_ of naturalists) is the beast
intended. At any rate it was an animal of such strength and courage
that, according to the Assyrian belief, it ventured to contend with the
lion. [PLATE CXX., Fig. 2.] The Assyrian monarchs chased the wild bull
in their chariots without dogs, but with the assistance of horsemen, who
turned the animals when they fled, and brought them within the monarch's
reach. [PLATE CXX., Fig. 3.] The king then aimed his arrows at them,
and the attendant horsemen, who were provided with bows, seem to have
been permitted to do the same. The bull seldom fell until he had
received a number of wounds; and we sometimes see as many as five arrows
still fixed in the body of one that has succumbed. It would seem that
the bull, when pushed, would, like the lion, make a rush at the king's
chariot, in which case the monarch seized him by one of the horns and
gave him the _coup de grace_ with his sword.

The special zest with which this animal was pursued may have arisen in
part from its scarcity. The Aurochs is wild and shy; it dislikes the
neighborhood of man, and has retired before him till it is now found
only in the forests of Lithuania, Carpathia, and the Caucasus. It seems
nearly certain that, in the time of the later kings, the species of wild
cattle previously limited, whatever it was, had disappeared from Assyria
altogether; at least this is the only probable account that can be given
of its non-occurrence in the later sculptures, more especially in those
of Asshur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, which seem intended to
represent the chase under every aspect known at the time. We might
therefore presume it to have been, even in the early period, already a
somewhat rare animal. And so we find in the Inscriptions that the
animal, or animals, which appear to represent wild cattle, were only met
with in outlying districts of the empire--on the borders of Syria and in
the country about Harrah; and then in such small numbers as to imply
that even there they were not very abundant.

When the chase of the nobler animals--the lion and the wild bull--had
been conducted to a successful issue, the hunters returned in a grand
procession to the capital, carrying with then as trophies of their
prowess the bodies of the slain. These were borne aloft on the shoulders
of men, three or four being required to carry each beast. Having been
brought to an appointed spot, they were arranged side by side upon the
ground, the heads of all pointing the same way; and the monarch,
attended by several of his principal officers, as the Vizier, the Chief
Eunuch, the fan-bearers, the bow and mace bearers, and also by a number
of musicians, came to the place, and solemnly poured a libation over the
prostrate forms, first how-ever (as it would seem) raising the cup to
his own lips. It is probable that this ceremony had to some extent a
religious character. The Assyrian monarchs commonly ascribe the success
of their hunting expeditions to the gods Nin (or Ninip) and Nergal; and
we may well understand that a triumphant return would be accompanied by
a thank-offering to the great protectors under whose auspices success
had been achieved. [PLATE CXX., Fig. 4.]

Besides the wild bull and the lion, the Assyrians are known to have
hunted the following animals: the onager or wild ass, the stag, the ibex
or wild goat, the gazelle, and the hare.

The chase of the wild ass was conducted in various ways. The animal was
most commonly pursued with dogs. The large and powerful hounds of the
Assyrians, of which a certain use was made even in the chase of the
lion, have been already noticed; but it may be desirable in this place
to give a fuller account of them. They were of a type approaching to
that of our mastiff, being smooth haired, strong limbed, with a somewhat
heavy head and neck, small pointed but drooping ears, and a long tail,
which was bushy and a little inclined to curl. They seem to have been
very broad across the chest, and altogether better developed as to their
fore than as to their hind parts, though even their hind legs were
tolerably strong and sinewy. They must have been exceedingly bold, if
they really faced the hunted lion; and their pace must have been
considerable, if they were found of service in chasing the wild ass.

[Illustration: PLATE 121]

The hunters are represented as finding the wild asses in herds, among
which are seen a certain number of foals. The King and his chief
attendants pursue the game on horseback, armed with bows and arrows, and
discharging their arrows as they go. Hounds also--not now held in leash,
but free--join in the hunt, pressing on the game, and generally singling
out some one individual from the herd, either a young colt or sometimes
a full-grown animal. [PLATE CXXI., Fig. 1.] The horsemen occasionally
brought down the asses with their shafts. [PLATE CXXI.. Fig. 2.] When
their archery failed of success, the chase depended on the hounds, which
are represented as running even the full-grown animal to a stand, and
then worrying him till the hunters came up to give the last blow.
Considering the speed of the full-grown wild ass, which is now regarded
as almost impossible to take, we may perhaps conclude that the animals
thus run down by the hounds were such as the hunters had previously
wounded; for it can scarcely be supposed that such heavily-made dogs as
the Assyrian could really have caught an unwounded and full-grown wild
ass. [PLATE CXXI., Fig. 3.]

Instead of shooting the wild ass, or hunting him to the death with
hounds, an endeavor was sometimes made to take him alive. [PLATE CXXI.,
Fig. 4] A species of noose seems to have been made by means of two ropes
interlaced, which were passed--how, we cannot say--round the neck of the
animal, and held him in such a way that all his struggles to release
himself were vain. This mode of capture recalls the use of the lasso by
the South Americans and the employment of nooses by various nations, not
merely in hunting, but in warfare. It is doubtful, however, if the
Assyrian practice approached at all closely to any of these. The noose,
if it may be so called, was of a very peculiar kind. It was not formed
by means of a slip-knot at the end of a single cord, but resulted from
the interlacing of two ropes one with the other. There is great
difficulty in understanding how the ropes were got into their position.
Certainly no single throw could have placed then, round the neck of the
animal in the manner represented, nor could the capture have been
effected, according to all appearance, by a single hunter. Two persons,
at least, must have been required to combine their efforts--one before
and one behind the creature which it was designed to capture.

[Illustration: PLATE 122]

Deer, which have always abounded in Assyria were either hunted with
dogs, or driven by beaters into nets, or sometimes shot with arrows by
sportsmen. The illustration (PLATE CXXII., Fig. 1) represents a dog in
chase of a hind, and shows that the hounds which the Assyrians used for
this purpose were of the same breed as those employed in the hunt of the
lion and of the wild ass. In [PLATE CXXII., Fig. 2.] we have a stricken
stag, which may, perhaps, have been also hard pressed by hounds, in the
act of leaping from rocky ground into water. It is interesting to find
this habit of the stag, with which the modern English sportsman is so
familiar, not merely existing in Assyria, but noticed by Assyrian
sculptors, at the distance of more than twenty-five centuries from our
own time.

When deer were to be taken by nets, the sportsman began by setting in an
upright position, with the help of numerous poles and pegs, a long, low
net, like the [dikrvov] of the Greeks. [PLATE CXXII., Fig. 1.] This was
carried round in a curved line of considerable length, so as to enclose
an ample space on every side excepting one, which was left open for the
deer to enter. The meshes of the net were large and not very regular.
They were carefully secured by knots at all the angles. The net was
bordered both at top and at bottom by a rope of much greater strength
and thickness than that which formed the network; and this was fastened
to the ground at the two extremities by pegs of superior size. [PLATE
CXXIII., Fig. 2.] The general height of the net was about that of a man,
but the two ends were sloped gently to the ground. Beaters, probably
accompanied by dogs, roused the game in the coverts, which was then
driven by shouts and barkings towards the place where the net was set.
If it once entered within the two extremities of the net (_a b_, [PLATE
CXXIII., Fig. 1]), its destruction was certain; for the beaters,
following on its traces, occupied the space by which it had entered, and
the net itself was not sufficiently visible for the deer to rise at it
and clear it by a leap.

[Illustration: PLATE 123]

In the chase of the ibex or wild goat, horsemen were employed to
discover the animals, which are generally found in herds, and to drive
them towards the sportsman, who waited in ambush until the game appeared
within bowshot. [PLATE CXXIII., Fig. 3.] An arrow was then let fly at
the nearest or the choicest animal, which often fell at the first
discharge. [PLATE CXXIII., Fig. 4.] The sport was tame compared with
many other kinds, and was probably not much affected by the higher

The chase of the gazelle is not shown on the sculptures. In modern times
they are taken by the grayhound and the falcon, separately or in
conjunction, the two being often trained to hunt together. They are
somewhat difficult to run down with dogs only, except immediately after
they have drunk water in hot weather. That the Assyrians sometimes
captured them, appears by a hunting scene which Mr. Layard discovered at
Khorsabad, where an attendant is represented carrying a gazelle on his
shoulders, and holding a hare in his right hand. [PLATE CXXIV., Fig. 1.]
As gazelles are very abundant both in the Sinjar country and in the
district between the Tigris and the Zagros range, we may suppose that
the Assyrians sometimes came upon them unawares, and transfixed them
with their arrows before they could make their escape. They may also
have taken them in nets, as they were accustomed to take deer; but we
have no evidence that they did so.

[Illustration: PLATE 124]

The hare is seen very commonly in the hands of those who attend upon the
huntsmen. It is always represented as very small in proportion to the
size of the men, whence we may perhaps conclude that the full-grown
animal was less esteemed than the leveret. As the huntsmen in these
representations have neither nets nor dogs, but seem to obtain their
game solely by the bow, we must presume that they were expert enough to
strike the hare as it ran.

There is no difficulty in making such a supposition as this, since the
Assyrians have left us an evidence of their skill as marksmen which
implies even greater dexterity. The game which they principally sought
in the districts where they occasionally killed the hare and the gazelle
seems to have been the partridge; and this game they had to bring down
when upon the wing. We see the sportsmen in the sculptures aiming their
arrows at the birds as they mount into the air [PLATE CXXIV., Fig. 21,]
and in one instance we observe one of the birds in the act of falling to
the ground, transfixed by a well aimed shaft. Such skill is not uncommon
among savage hunting tribes, whose existence depends on the dexterity
with which they employ their weapons; but it is rarely that a people
which has passed out of this stage, and hunts for sport rather than
subsistence, retains its old expertness.

Hunting the hare with dogs was probably not very common, as it is only
in a single instance that the Assyrian remains exhibit a trace of it. On
one of the bronze dishes discovered by Mr. Layard at Nimrud may be seen
a series of alternate dogs and hares, which shows that coursing was not
unknown to the Assyrians. [PLATE CXXIV., Fig. 3.] The dog is of a kind
not seen elsewhere in the remains of Assyrian art. The head bears a
resemblance to that of the wolf; but the form generally is that of a
coarse grayhound, the legs and neck long, the body slim, and the tail
curved at the end; offering thus a strong contrast to the ordinary
Assyrian hound, which has been already represented more than once.

Nets may sometimes have been employed for the capture of small game,
such as hares and rabbits, since we occasionally see beaters or other
attendants carrying upon poles, which they hold over their shoulders,
nets of dimensions far too small for them to have been used in the
deer-hunts, with balls of string and pegs wherewith to extend them.
[PLATE CXXIV., Fig. 4.] The nets in this case are squared at the ends,
and seem to have been about eight or nine feet long, and less than a
foot in height. They have large meshes, and, like the deer nets, are
bordered both at top and bottom with a strong cord, to which the
net-work is attached. Like the classical [evodia], they were probably
placed across the runs of the animals, which, being baffled by then and
turned from their accustomed tracks, would grow bewildered, and fall an
easy prey to the hunters. Or, possibly, several of them may have been
joined together, and a considerable space may then have been enclosed,
within which the game may have been driven by the beaters. The ease of
these three weak and tinnier animals, the gazelle, the hare, and the
partridge, was not regarded as worthy of the monarch. When the king is
represented as present, he takes no part in it, but merely drives in his
chariot through the woods where the sportsmen are amusing themselves.
Persons, however, of a good position, as appears from their dress and
the number of their attendants, indulged in the sport, more especially
eunuchs, who were probably those of the royal household. It is not
unlikely that the special object was to supply the royal table with

[Illustration: PLATE 125]

The Assyrians do not seem to have had much skill as fishermen. They
were unacquainted with the rod, and fished by means of a simple line
thrown into the water, one end of which was held in the hand. [PLATE
CXXV., Figs. 1, 2.] No float was used, and the bait must consequently
have sunk to the bottom, unless prevented from so doing by the force of
the stream. This method of fishing was likewise known and practised in
Egypt, where, however, it was far more common to angle with a rod.
Though Assyrian fish-hooks have not been found, there can be no doubt
that that invention was one with which they were acquainted, as were
both the Egyptians and the early Chaldaeans.

Fishing was carried on both in rivers and in stews or ponds. The angler
sometimes stood or squatted upon the bank; at other times, not content
with commanding the mere edge of the water, he plunged in, and is seen
mid-stream, astride upon an inflated skin, quietly pursuing his
avocation. [PLATE CXXVI., Fig. 1.] Occasionally he improved his position
by amounting upon a raft, and, seated at the stern, with his back to the
rower, threw out his line and drew the fish from the water. Now and then
the fisherman was provided with a plaited basket, made of rushes or
flags, which was fastened round his neck with a string, and hung at his
back, ready to receive the produce of his exertions.

[Illustration: PLATE 126]

It does not appear that angling was practised by the Assyrians the way
that the monuments show it to have been practised in Egypt, as an
amusement of the rich. The fishermen are always poorly clothed, and seem
to have belonged to the class which worked for its living. It is
remarkable that do not anywhere in the sculptures see nets used for
fishing; but perhaps we ought not to conclude from this that they were
never so employed in Assyria. The Assyrian sculptors represented only
occasionally the scenes of common everyday life; and we are seldom
justified in drawing a negative conclusion as to the peaceful habits of
the people on any point from the mere fact that the bas-reliefs contain
no positive evidence on the subject.

A few other animals were probably, but not certainly, chased by the
Assyrians, as especially the ostrich and the bear. The gigantic bird,
which remained in Mesopotamia as late as the time of Xenophon, was well
known to the Assyrian artists, who could scarcely have represented it
with so much success, unless its habits had been described by hunters.
The bear is much less frequent upon the remains than the ostrich; but
its occurrence and the truthfulness of its delineation where it occurs,
indicate a familiarity which may no doubt be due to other causes, but is
probably traceable to the intimate knowledge acquired by those who
hunted it. [PLATE CXXVI., Fig. 2.]

Of the other amusements and occupations of the Assyrians our knowledge
is comparatively scanty; but some pages may be here devoted to their
music, their navigation, their commerce, and their agriculture. On the
first and second of these a good deal of light is thrown by the
monuments, while some interesting facts with respect to the third and
fourth may be gathered both from this source and also from ancient

That the Babylonians, the neighbors of the Assyrians, and, in a certain
sense, the inheritors of their empire, had a passion for music, and
delighted in a great variety of musical instruments, has long been known
and admitted. The repeated mention by Daniel, in his third chapter, of
the cornet, flute, harp sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of
music--or, at any rate, of a number of instruments for which those terms
were once thought the best English equivalents--has familiarized us with
the fact that in Babylonia, as early as the sixth century B.C., musical
instruments of many different kinds were in use. It is also apparent
from the book of Psalms, that a variety of instruments were employed by
the Jews. And we know that in Egypt as many as thirteen or fourteen
different kinds were common. In Assyria, if there was not so much
variety as this, there were at any rate eight or nine quite different
sorts, some stringed, some wind, some merely instruments of percussion.
In the early sculptures, indeed, only two or three musical instruments
are represented. One is a kind of harp, held between the left arm and
the side, and played with one hand by means of a quill or _plectrum_.
[PLATE CXXVI., Fig. 3.] Another is a lyre, played by the hand; while a
third is apparently cymbal. But in the later times we see besides these
instruments--a harp of a different make played with both hands, two or
three kinds of lyre, the double pipe, the guitar or cithern, the
tambourine, a nameless instrument, and more than one kind of drum.

The harp of the early ages was a triangular instrument, consisting of a
horizontal board which seems to have been about three feet in length, an
upright bar inserted into one end of the board, commonly surmounted by
an imitation of the human hand, and a number of strings which crossed
diagonally from the board to the bar, and, passing through the latter,
hung down some way, terminating in tassels of no great size. The strings
were eight, nine, or ten in number, and (apparently) were made fast to
the board, but could be tightened or relaxed by means of a row of pegs
inserted into the upright bar, round which the strings were probably
wound. No difference is apparent in the thickness of the strings; and it
would seem therefore that variety of tone was produced solely by
difference of length. It is thought that this instrument must have been
suspended round the player's neck. It was carried at the left side, and
was played (as already observed) with a quill or electrum held in the
right hand, while the left hand seems to have been employed in pressing
the strings so as to modify the tone, or stop the vibrations, of the
notes. The performers on this kind of harp, and indeed all other
Assyrian musicians, are universally represented as standing while they

The harp of later times was constructed, held, and played differently.
It was still triangular, or nearly so; but the frame now consisted of a
rounded and evidently hollow, sounding-board, to which the strings were
attached with the help of pegs, and a plain bar whereto they were made
fast below, and from which their ends depended like a fringe. The number
of strings was greater than in the earlier harp, being sometimes as many
as seventeen. The instrument was carried in such a way that the strings
were perpendicular and the bar horizontal, while the sounding-board
projected forwards at an angle above the player's head. It was played by
the naked hand, without a plectrum; and both hands seem to have found
their employment in pulling the strings. [PLATE CXXVII., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 127]

Three varieties of the lyre are seen in the Assyrian sculptures. One of
them is triangular, or nearly so, and has only four strings, which,
being carried from one side of the triangle to the other, parallel to
the base, are necessarily of very unequal length. Its frame is
apparently of wood, very simple, and entirely devoid of ornament. This
sort of lyre has been found only in the latest sculptures. [PLATE
CXXVI., Fig. 4.]

Another variety nearly resembles in its general shape the lyre of the
Egyptians. It has a large square bottom or sounding-board, which is
held, like the Egyptian, under the left elbow, two straight arms only
slightly diverging, and a plain cross-bar at top. The number of strings
visible in the least imperfect representation is eight; but judging by
the width of the instrument, we may fairly assume that the full
complement was nine or ten. The strings run from the cross-bar to the
sounding-board, and must have been of a uniform length. This lyre was
played by both hands, and for greater security was attached by a band
passing round the player's neck. [PLATE CXXVII., Fig. 2.]

The third sort of lyre was larger than either of the others, and
considerably more elaborate. It had probably a sounding-board at bottom,
like the lyre just described, though this, being carried under the left
elbow, is concealed in the representations. Hence there branched out two
curved arms, more or less ornamented, which were of very unequal length;
and these were joined together by a cross-bar, also curved, and
projecting considerably beyond the end of the longer of the two arms.
Owing to the inequality of the arms, the cross-bar sloped at an angle to
the base, and the strings, which passed from the one to the other,
consequently differed in length. The number of the strings in this lyre
seems to have been either five or seven. [PLATE CXXVIII., Figs. 2, 3.]

[Illustration: PLATE 128]

The Assyrian guitar is remarkable for the small size of the hollow body
or sounding-board, and the great proportionate length of the neck or
handle. There is nothing to show what was the number of the strings, nor
whether they were stretched by pegs and elevated by means of a bridge.
Both hands seen to be employed in playing the instrument, which is held
across the chest in a sloping direction, and was probably kept in place
by a ribbon or strap passed round the neck. [PLATE CXXVIII., Fig. 1.]

It is curious that in the Assyrian remains, while the double pipe is
common, we find no instance at all either of the flute or of the single
pipe. All three were employed in Egypt, and occur on the monuments of
that country frequently; and though among the Greeks and Romans the
double pipe was more common than the single one, yet the single pipe was
well known, and its employment was not unusual. The Greeks regarded the
pipe as altogether Asiatic, and ascribed its invention to Marsyas the
Phrygian, or to Olympus, his disciple. We may conclude from this that
they at any rate learnt the invention from Asia; and in their decided
preference of the double over the single pipe we may not improbably have
a trace of the influence which Assyria exercised over Asiatic, and thus
even over Greek, music. [PLATE CXXVIII., Fig. 1.]

The Assyrian double pipe was short, probably not exceeding ten or twelve
inches in length. It is uncertain whether it was really a single
instrument consisting of two tubes united by a common mouthpiece, or
whether it was not composed of two quite separate pipes, as was the case
with the double pipes of the Greeks and Romans.

The two pipes constituting a pair seem in Assyria to have been always of
the same length, not, like the Roman "right" and "left pipes," of
unequal length, and so of different pitches. They were held and played,
like the classical one, with either hand of the performer. There can be
little doubt that they were in reality quite straight, though sometimes
they have been awkwardly represented as crooked by the artist.

The tambourine of the Assyrian was round, like that in common use at the
present day; not square, like the ordinary Egyptian. It seems to have
consisted simply of a skin stretched on a circular frame, and to have
been destitute altogether of the metal rings or balls which produce the
jingling sound of the modern instrument. It was held at bottom by the
left hand in a perpendicular position, and was struck at the side with
the fingers of the right. [PLATE CXXIX., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 129]

Assyrian cymbals closely resembled those in common use throughout the
East at the present day. They consisted of two hemispheres of metal,
probably of bronze, running off to a point, which was elongated into a
bar or handle. The player grasped a cymbal in each hand, and either
clashed theme together horizontally, or else, holding one cupwise in his
left, brought the other down upon it perpendicularly with his right.
[PLATE CXXX., Fig. 1.]

Two drums are represented on the Assyrian sculptures.

One is a small instrument resembling the _tubbul_, now frequently used
by Eastern dancing girls. The other is of larger size, like the _tubbul_
at top, but descending gradually in the shape of an inverted cone, and
terminating almost in a point at bottom. Both were carried in front,
against the stomach of the player--attached, apparently, to his girdle;
and both were played in the same way, namely, with the fingers of the
open hands on the top. [PLATE CXXX., Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: PLATE 130]

A few instruments carried by musicians are of an anomalous appearance,
and do not admit of identification with any known species. One, which is
borne by a musician in a processional scene belonging to the time of
Sennacherib, resembles in shape a bag turned upside-down. By the manner
in which it is held, we may conjecture that it was a sort of rattle--a
hollow square box of wood or metal, containing stones or other hard
substances which produced a jingling noise when shaken. But the purpose
of the semicircular bow which hangs from the box is difficult to
explain, unless we suppose that it was merely a handle by which to carry
the instrument when not in use. Rattles of different kinds are found
among the musical instruments of Egypt; and one of them consists of a
box with a long handle attached to it. The jingling noise produced by
such instruments may have corresponded to the sound now emitted by the
side-rings of the tambourine.

Another curious-looking instrument occurs in a processional scene of the
time of Asshur-bani-pal, which has been compared to the modern
_santour_, a sort of dulcimer. It consisted (apparently) of a number of
strings, certainly not fewer than ten stretched over a hollow case or
sounding-board. The musician seems to have struck the strings with a
small bar or hammer held in his right hand, while at the same time he
made some use of his left hand in pressing them so as to produce the
right note. It is clear that this instrument must have been suspended
round the neck, though the Assyrian artist has omitted to represent the
belt which kept it in place. [PLATE CXXIX., Fig. 2.]

In addition to all these various instruments, it is possible that the
Assyrians may have made use of a sort of horn. An object is represented
on a slab of Sennacherib's which is certainly either a horn or a
speaking-trumpet. It is carried by one of the supervisors of the works
in a scene representing the conveyance of a colossal bull to its
destination. In shape it no doubt resembles the modern speaking-trumpet,
but it is almost equally near to the tuba or military trumpet of the
Greeks and Romans. This will appear sufficiently on a comparison of the
two representations, one of which is taken from Mr. Layard's
representation of Sennacherib's slab, while the other is from a
sculpture on the column of Trajan. As we have no mention of the
speaking-trumpet in any ancient writer, as the shape of the object under
consideration is that of a known ancient instrument of music, and as an
ordinary horn would have been of great use in giving signals to workmen
engaged as the laborers are upon the sculpture, it seems best to regard
the object in question as such a horn--an instrument of great power, but
of little compass--more suitable therefore for signal-giving than for
concerts. [PLATE CXXX., Fig. 3.]

Passing now from the instruments of the Assyrians to the general
features and character of their music, we may observe, in the first
place, that while it is fair to suppose them acquainted with each form
of the triple symphony, there is only evidence that they knew of two
forms out of the three--viz, the harmony of instruments, and that of
instruments and voices in combination. Of these two they seem greatly to
have preferred the concert of instruments without voices; indeed, one
instance alone shows that they were not wholly ignorant of the more
complex harmony. Even this leaves it doubtful whether they themselves
practised it: for the singers and musicians represented as uniting their
efforts are not Assyrians, but Susianians, who come out to greet their
conquerors, and do honor to the new sovereign who has been imposed on
them, with singing, playing, and dancing.

Assyrian bands were variously composed. The simplest consisted of two
harpers. A band of this limited number seems to have been an established
part of the religious ceremonial on the return of the monarch from the
chase, when a libation was poured over the dead game. The instrument in
use on these occasions was the antique harp, which was played, not with
the hand, but with the _plectrum_. A similar band appears on one
occasion in a triumphal return from a military expedition belonging to
the time of Sennacherib. [PLATE CXXI.]

[Illustration: PLATE 131]

In several instances we find bands of three musicians. In one case all
three play the lyre. The musicians here are certainly captives, whom the
Assyrians have borne off front their own country. It has been thought
that their physiognomy is Jewish, and that the lyre which they bear in
their hands may represent that "kind of harp" which the children of the
later captivity hung up upon the willows when they wept by the rivers of
Babylon. There are no sufficient grounds, however, for this
identification. The lyre may be pronounced foreign, since it is unlike
any other specimen; but its ornamentation with an animal head is
sufficient to show that it is not Jewish. And the Jewish _kinnor_ was
rather a harp than a lyre, and had certainly more than four strings.
Still, the employment of captives as musicians is interesting, though we
cannot say that the captives are Jews. It shows us that the Assyrians,
like the later Babylonians, were in the habit of "requiring" music from
their prisoners, who, when transported into a "strange land," had to
entertain their masters with their native melodies.

Another band of three exhibits to us a harper, a player on the lyre, and
a player on the double pipe. A third shows a harper, a player on the
lyre, and a musician whose instrument is uncertain. In this latter case
it is quite possible that there may originally have been more musicians
than three, for the sculpture is imperfect, terminating in the middle of
a figure.

Bands of four performers are about as common as bands of three. On an
obelisk belonging to the time of Asshur-izir-pal we see a band composed
of two cymbal-players and two performers on the lyre. A slab of
Sennacherib's exhibits four harpers arranged in two pairs, all playing
with the _plectrum_ on the antique harp. Another of the same date, which
is incomplete, shows us a tambourine-player, a cymbal-player, a player
on the nondescript instrument which has been called a sort of rattle,
and another whose instrument cannot be distinguished. In a sculpture of
a later period, which is represented above, we see a band of four,
composed of a tambourine-player, two players on two different sorts of
lyres, and a cymbal-player.

It is not often that we find representations of bands containing more
than four performers. On the sculptures hitherto discovered there seem
to be only three instances where this number was exceeded. A bas-relief
of Sennacherib's showed five players, of whom two had tambourines; two,
harps of the antique pattern; and one, cymbals. Another, belonging to
the time of his grandson, exhibited a band of seven, three of whom
played upon harps of the later fashion, two on the double pipe, one on
the guitar, and one on the long drum with the conical bottom. Finally,
we have the remarkable scene represented in the illustration, a work of
the sane date, where no fewer than twenty-six performers are seen
uniting their efforts. Of these, eleven are players on instruments,
while the remaining fifteen are vocalists. The instruments consist of
seven harps, two double pipes, a small drum or tubbel, and the curious
instrument which has been compared to the modern _santour_. The players
are all men, six out of the eleven being eunuchs. The singers consist of
six women and nine children of various ages, the latter of whom seem to
accompany their singing, as the Hebrews and Egyptians sometimes did,
with clapping of the hands. Three out of the first four musicians are
represented with one leg raised, as if dancing to the measure. [PLATE
CXXXII., Fig. I.]

[Illustration: PLATE 132]

Bands in Assyria had sometimes, though not always, time-keepers or
leaders, who took the direction of the performance. These were commonly
eunuchs, as indeed were the greater number of the musicians. They held
in one hand a double rod or wand, with which most probably they made
their signals, and stood side by side facing the performers. [PLATE
CXXXII., Fig. 2.]

The Assyrians seem to have employed music chiefly for festive and
religious purposes. The favorite instrument in the religious ceremonies
was the antique harp, which continued in use as a sacred instrument from
the earliest to the latest times. On festive occasions the lyre was
preferred, or a mixed band with a variety of instruments. In the quiet
of domestic life the monarch and his sultana were entertained with
concerted music played by a large number of performers: while in
processions and pageants, whether of a civil or of a military character,
bands were also very generally employed, consisting of two, three, four,
five, or possibly more, musicians. Cymbals, the tambourine, and the
instrument which has been above regarded as a sort of rattle, were
peculiar to these processional occasions: the harp, the lyre, and the
double pipe had likewise a place in them.

In actual war, it would appear that music was employed very sparingly,
if at all, by the Assyrians. No musicians are ever represented in the
battle-scenes: nor are the troops accompanied by any when upon the
march. Musicians are only seen conjoined with troops in one or two
marching processions, apparently of a triumphal character. It may
consequently be doubted whether the Assyrian armies, when they went out
on their expeditions, were attended, like the Egyptian and Roman armies,
by military bands. Possibly, the musicians in the processional scenes
alluded to belong to the court rather than to the camp, and merely take
part as civilians in a pageant, wherein a share is also assigned to the

In proceeding, as already proposed, to speak of the navigation of the
Assyrians, it must be at once premised that it is not as mariners, but
only as fresh-water sailors, that they come within the category of
navigators at all. Originally an inland people, they had no power, in
the earlier ages of their history, to engage in any but the secondary
and inferior kind of navigation; and it would seem that, by the time
when they succeeded in opening to themselves through their conquests a
way to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, their habits had become
so fixed in this respect that they no longer admitted of change. There
is satisfactory evidence which shows that they left the navigation of
the two seas at the two extremities of their empire to the subject
nations--the Phoenicians and the Babylonians contenting themselves with
the profits without sharing the dangers of marine voyages, while their
own attention was concentrated upon their two great rivers--the Tigris
and the Euphrates, which formed the natural line of communication
between the seas in question.

The navigation of these streams was important to the Assyrians in two
ways. In the first place it was a military necessity that they should be
able, _readily and without delay_, to effect the passage of both of
them, and also of their tributaries, which were frequently too deep to
be forded. Now from very early times it was probably found tolerably
easy to pass an army over a great river by swimming, more especially
with the aid of inflated skins, which would be soon employed for the
purpose. But the _materiel_ of the army--the provisions, the chariots,
and the siege machines--was not so readily transported, and indeed could
only be conveyed across deep rivers by means of bridges, rafts, or
boats. On the great streams of the Tigris and Euphrates, with their
enormous spring floods, no bridge, in the ordinary sense of the word, is
possible. Bridges of boats are still the only ones that exist on either
river below the point at which they issue from the gorges of the
mountains. And these would be comparatively late inventions, long
subsequent to the employment of single ferry boats. Probably the
earliest contrivance for transporting the chariots, the stores, and the
engines across a river was a raft, composed hastily of the trees and
bushes growing in the neighborhood of the stream, and rendered capable
of sustaining a considerable weight by the attachment to it of a number
of inflated skins. A representation of such a raft, taken from a slab of
Sennacherib, has been already given. Rafts of this kind are still
largely employed in the navigation of the Mesopotamian streams, and,
being extremely simple in their construction, may reasonably be supposed
to have been employed by the Assyrians from the very foundation of their

To these rafts would naturally have succeeded boats of one kind or
another. As early as the time of Tiglath-Pileser I. (ab. B.C. 1120) we
find a mention of boats as employed in the passage of the Euphrates.
These would probably be of the kind described by Herodotus, and
represented on one of the most ancient bas-reliefs--round structures
like the Welsh coracles, made of wickerwork and covered with skins,
smeared over with a coating of bitumen. Boats of this construction were
made of a considerable size. The one represented contains a chariot, and
is navigated by two men. [PLATE CXXXIII., Fig. 1.] In the later
sculptures the number of navigators is raised to four, and the boats
carry a heavy load of stone or other material. The mode of propulsion is
curious and very unusual. The rowers sit at the stem and stern, facing
each other, and while those at the stem pull, those at the stern must
have pushed, as Herodotus tells us that they did. The make of the oars
is also singular. In the earliest sculptures they are short poles,
terminating in a head, shaped like a small axe or hammer; in the later,
below this axe-like appendage, they have a sort of curved blade, which
is, however, not solid, but perforated, so as to form a mere framework,
which seems to require filling up. [PLATE CXXXIII., Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: PLATE 133]

Beside these round boats, which correspond closely with the _kufas_ in
use upon the Tigris and Euphrates at the present day, the Assyrians
employed for the passage of rivers, even in very early times, a vessel
of a more scientific construction. The early bas-reliefs exhibit to us,
together with the _kufas_, a second and much larger vessel, manned with
a crew of seven men--a helmsman and six rowers, three upon either side
and capable of conveying across a broad stream two chariots at a time,
or a chariot and two or three passengers. This vessel appears to have
been made of planks. It was long, and comparatively narrow. It had a
flattish bottom, and was rounded off towards the stem and stern, much as
boats are rounded off towards the bows at the present day. It did not
possess either mast or sail, but was propelled wholly by oars, which
were of the same shape as those used anciently by the rowers in the
round boats. In the steersman's hand is seen an oar of a different kind.
It is much longer than the rowing oars, and terminates in an oval blade,
which would have given it considerable power in the water. [PLATE
CXXXIII., Fig. 4.] The helmsman steered with both hands; and it seems
that his oar was lashed to an upright post near the stern of the vessel.

It is evident that before armies could look habitually to being
transported across the Mesopotamian streams, wherever they might happen
to strike them in their expeditions, by boats of these two kinds, either
ferries must have been established at convenient intervals upon them, or
traffic along their courses by means of boats must have been pretty
regular. An Assyrian army did not carry its boats with it, as a modern
army does its pontoons. Boats were commonly found in sufficient numbers
on the streams themselves when an army needed them, and were impressed,
or hired, to convey the troops across. And thus we see that the actual
navigation of the streams had another object besides the military one of
transport from bank to bank. Rivers are Nature's roads; and we may be
sure that the country had not been long settled before a water
communication began to be established between towns upon the
river-courses, and commodities began to be transported by means of them.
The very position of the chief towns upon time banks of the streams was
probably connected with this sort of transport, the rivers furnishing
the means by which large quantities of building material could be
conveniently concentrated at a given spot, and by which supplies could
afterwards be regularly received from a distance. We see in the Assyrian
sculptures the conveyance of stones, planks, etc. along the rivers, as
well as the passage of chariots, horses, and persons across them. Rafts
and round boats were most commonly used for this purpose. When a mass of
unusual size, as a huge paving-stone, or a colossal bull or lion, had to
be moved, a long, flat-bottomed boat was employed, which the mass
sometimes more than covered. In this case, as there was no room for
rower's, trackers were engaged, who dragged the vessel along by means of
ropes, which were fastened either to the boat itself or to its burden.

During the later period of the monarchy various improvements took place
in Assyrian boat-building. The Phoenician and Cyprian expeditions of the
later kings made the Assyrians well acquainted with the ships of
first-rate nautical nations; and they seem to have immediately profited
by this acquaintance, in order to improve the appearance and the quality
of their own river boats. The clumsy and inelegant long-boat of the
earlier times, as replaced, even for ordinary traffic, by a light and
graceful fabric, which was evidently a copy from Phoenician models.
Modifications, which would seem trifling if described, changed the whole
character of the vessels, in which light and graceful curves took the
place of straight lines and angles only just rounded off. The stem and
stern were raised high above the body of the boat, and were shaped like
fishes' tails or carved into the heads of animals. [PLATE CXXXIII., Fig.
2.] Oars, shaped nearly like modern ones, came into vogue, and the
rowers were placed so as all to look one way, and to pull instead of
pushing with their oars. Finally, the principle of the bireme was
adopted, and river-galleys were constructed of such a size that they had
to be manned by thirty rowers, who sat in two tiers one above the other
at the sides of the galley, while the centre part, which seems to have
been decked, was occupied by eight or ten other persons.

In galleys of this kind the naval architecture of the Assyrians seems to
have culminated. They never, so far as appears, adopted for their boats
the inventions with which their intercourse with Phoenicia had rendered
them perfectly familiar, of masts, and sails. This is probably to be
explained from the extreme rapidity of the Mesopotamian rivers, on which
sailing boats are still uncommon. The unfailing strength of rowers was
needed in order to meet and stem the force of the currents; and this
strength being provided in abundance, it was not thought necessary to
husband it or eke it out by the addition of a second motive power.
Again, the boats, being intended only for peaceful purposes, were
unprovided with beaks, another invention well known to the Assyrians,
and frequently introduced into their sculptures in the representations
of Phoenician vessels. [PLATE CXXXIII., Fig. 5.]

In the Assyrian biremes the oars of the lower tier were worked through
holes in the vessel's sides. This arrangement would of course at once
supply a fulcrum and keep the oars in their places. But it is not so
easy to see how the oar of a common row-boat, or the uppermost tier of a
bireme, obtained their purchase on the vessel, and were prevented from
slipping along its side. Assyrian vessels had no rowlocks, and in
general the oars are represented as simply rested without any support on
the upper edge of the bulwark. But this can scarcely have been the real
practice; and one or two representations, where a support is provided,
may be fairly regarded as showing what the practice actually was. In the
figure of a _kufa_, or round boat, already given, it will be seen that
one oar is worked by means of a thong, like the [--] or [--] of the
Greeks, which is attached to a ring in the bulwark. In another
bas-relief, several of the oars of similar boats are represented as kept
in place by means of two pegs fixed into the top of the bulwark and
inclined at an angle to one another. [PLATE CXXXIII., Fig. 6.] Probably
one or other of these two methods of steadying the oar was in reality
adopted in every instance.

With regard to Assyrian commerce, it must at the outset be remarked that
direct notices in ancient writers of any real authority are scanty in
the extreme. The prophet Nahum says indeed, in a broad and general way,
of Nineveh, "Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of
heaven;" and Ezekiel tells us, more particularly, that Assyrian
merchants, along with others, traded with Tyre "in blue clothes, and
broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel." But, except these two,
there seem to be no notices of Assyrian trade in any contemporary or
quasi-contemporary author. Herodotus, writing nearly two hundred years
after the empire had come to an end, mentions casually that "Assyrian
wares" had in very ancient times been conveyed by the Phoenicians to
Greece, and there sold to the inhabitants. He speaks also of a river
traffic in his own day between Armenia and Babylon along the course of
the Euphrates, a fact which indirectly throws light upon the habits of
earlier ages. Diodorus, following Ctesias, declares that a number of
cities were established from very ancient times on the banks of both the
Tigris and the Euphrates, to serve as marts of trade to the merchants
who imported into Assyria the commodities of Media and Paraetacene.
Among the most important of these marts, as we learn from Strabo, were
Tiphsach or Thapsacus on the Euphrates, and Opis upon the Tigris.

It is from notices thus scanty, partial, and incidental, eked out by
probability, and further helped by a certain number of important facts
with respect to the commodities actually used in the country, whereof
evidence has been furnished to us by the recent discoveries, that we
have to form our estimate of the ancient commerce of the Assyrians. The
Inscriptions throw little or no light upon the subject. They record the
march of armies against foreign enemies, and their triumphant return
laden with plunder and tribute, sometimes showing incidentally what
products of a country were most in request among the Assyrians; but they
contain no accounts of the journeys of merchants, or of the commodities
which entered or quitted the country in the common course of trade.

The favorable situation of Assyria for trade has often attracted remark.
Lying on the middle courses of two great navigable streams, it was
readily approached by water both from the north-west and from the
south-east. The communication between the Mediterranean and the Southern
or Indian Ocean naturally--almost necessarily--followed this route. If
Europe wanted the wares and products of India, or if India required the
commodities of Europe, by far the shortest and easiest course was the
line from the eastern Mediterranean across Northern Syria, and thence by
one or other of the two great streams to the innermost recess of the
Persian Gulf. The route by the Nile, the canal of Neco, and the Red Sea,
was decidedly inferior, more especially on account of the dangerous
navigation of that sea, but also because it was circuitous, and involved
a voyage in the open ocean of at least twice the length of the other.

Again, Assyria lay almost necessarily on the line of land communication
between the north-east and the south-west. The lofty Armenian
mountain-chains--Niphates and the other parallel ranges--towards the
north, and the great Arabian Desert towards the south, offered
difficulties to companies of land-traders which they were unwilling to
face, and naturally led them to select routes intermediate between these
two obstacles, which could not fail to pass through some part or other
of the Mesopotamian region.

The established lines of land trade between Assyria and her neighbors
were probably very numerous, but the most important must have been some
five or six. One almost certainly led from the Urumiyeh basin over the
_Keli-shin_ pass (lat. 37°, long. (45° nearly)), descending on Rowandiz,
and thence following the course of the Greater Zab to Herir, whence it
crossed the plain to Nineveh. At the summit of the Kell-shin pass is a
pillar of dark blue stone, six feet in height, two in breadth, and one
in depth, let into a basement block of the same material, and covered
with a cuneiform inscription in the Scythic character. At a short
distance to the westward on the same route is another similar pillar.
The date of the inscriptions falls within the most flourishing time of
the Assyrian empire, and their erection is a strong argument in favor of
the use of this route (which is one of the very few possible modes of
crossing the Zagros range) in the time when that empire was in full

Another line of land traffic probably passed over the same
mountain-range considerably further to the south. It united Assyria with
Media, leading from the Northern Ecbatana (Takht-i-Suleiman) by the
Banneh pass to Suleimaniyeh, and thence by Kerkuk and Altura-Kiupri to
Arbela and Nineveh.

There may have been also a route up the valley of the Lesser Zab, by
Koi-Sinjah and over the great Kandil range into Lajihan. There are said
to be Assyrian remains near Koi-Sinjah, at a place called the Bihisht
and Jehennen ("the Heaven and Hell") of Nimrud, but no account has been
given of them by any European traveller.

Westward there were probably two chief lines of trade with Syria and the
adjacent countries. One passed along the foot of the Sinjar range by
Sidikan (_Arban_) on the Khabour to Tiphsach (or Thapsacus) on the
Euphrates, where it crossed the Great River. Thence it bent southwards,
and, passing through Tadmor, was directed upon Phoenicia most likely by
way of Damascus. Another took a more northern line by the Mons Masius to
Harran and Seruj, crossing the Euphrates at Bir, and thence
communicating both with Upper Syria and with Asia Minor. The former of
these two routes is marked as a line of traffic by the foreign objects
discovered in such abundance at Arban, by the name Tiphsach, which means
"passage," and by the admitted object of Solomon in building Tadmor. The
other rests on less direct evidence; but there are indications of it in
the trade of Harran with Tyre which is mentioned by Ezekiel, and in the
Assyrian remains near Seruj, which is on the route from Harran to the
Bir fordway.

Towards the north, probably, the route most used was that which is
thought by many to be the line followed by Xenophon, first up the valley
of the Tigris to Til or Tilleh, and then along the Bitlis Chai to the
lake of Van and the adjacent country. Another route may have led from
Nineveh to Nisibis, thence through the Jebel Tur to Diarbekr, and from
Diarbekr up the Western Tigris to Arghana, Kharput, Malatiyeh, and Asia
Minor. Assyrian remains have been found at various points along this
latter line, while the former is almost certain to have connected the
Assyrian with the Armenian capital.

Armenian productions would, however, reach Nineveh and the other great
central cities mainly by the Tigris, down which they could easily have
been floated from Tilleh. or even from Diarbekr. Similarly, Babylonian
and Susianian productions, together with the commodities which either or
both of those countries imported by sea, would find their way into
Assyria up the courses of the two streams, which were navigated by
vessels capable of stemming the force of the current, at least as high
as Opis and Thapsacus.

We may now proceed to inquire what were the commodities which Assyria,
either certainly or probably, imported by these various lines of land
and water communication. Those of which we seem to have some indication
in the existing remains are gold, tin, ivory, lead, stones of various
kinds, cedar-wood, pearls, and engraved seals.

Many articles in gold have been recovered at the various Assyrian sites
where excavations have been made; and indications have been found of the
employment of this precious metal in the ornamentation of palaces and of
furniture. The actual quantity discovered has, indeed, been small; but
this may be accounted for without calling in question the reality of
that extraordinary wealth in the precious metals which is ascribed by
all antiquity to Assyria. This wealth no doubt flowed in, to a
considerable extent, from the plunder of conquered nations and the
tribute paid by dependent monarchs. But the quantity obtained in this
way would hardly have sufficed to maintain the luxury of the court and
at the same time to accumulate, so that when Nineveh was taken there was
"none end" of the store. It has been suggested that "mines of gold were
probably once worked within the Assyrian dominions," although no gold is
now known to be produced anywhere within her limits. But perhaps it is
more probable that, like Judaea and Phoenicia, she obtained her gold in
a great measure from commerce, taking it either from the Phoenicians,
who derived it both from Arabia and from the West African coast, or else
from the Babylonians, who may have imported it by sea from India.

Tin, which has not been found in a pure state in the remains of the
Assyrians, but which enters regularly as an element into their bronze,
where it forms from one-tenth to one-seventh of the mass, was also,
probably, an importation. Tin is a comparatively rare metal. Abundant
enough in certain places, it is not diffused at all widely over the
earth's surface. Neither Assyria itself nor any of the neighboring
countries are known to have ever produced this mineral. Phoenicia
certainly imported it, directly or indirectly, from Cornwall and the
Scilly Isles, which therefore became first known in ancient geography as
the Cassiterides or "Tin Islands." It is a reasonable supposition that
the tin wherewith the Assyrians hardened their bronze was obtained by
their merchants from the Phoenicians in exchange for textile fabrics and
(it may be) other commodities. If so, we may believe that in many
instances the produce of our own tin mines which left our shores more
than twenty-five centuries ago, has, after twice travelling a distance
of many thousand miles, returned to seek a final rest in its native

Ivory was used by the Assyrians extensively in their furniture, and was
probably supplied by them to the Phoenicians and the Greeks. It was no
doubt sometimes brought to them by subject nations as tribute; but this
source of supply is not sufficient to account, at once, for the
consumption in Assyria itself, and for the exports from Assyria to
foreign countries. A regular trade for ivory seems to have been carried
on from very early times between India and Dedan (Bahrein,?) in the
Persian Gulf. The travelling companies of the Dedanim, who conveyed
this precious merchandise from their own country to Phoenicia, passed
probably along the course of the Euphrates, and left a portion of their
wares in the marts upon that stream, which may have been thence conveyed
to the great Assyrian cities. Or the same people may have traded
directly with Assyria by the route of the Tigris. Again, it is quite
conceivable--indeed, it is probable--that there was a land traffic
between Assyria and Western India by the way of Cabal, Herat, the
Caspian Gates, and Media. Of this route we have a trace in the land
animals engraved upon the well-known Black Obelisk, where the
combination of the small-eared or Indian elephant and the rhinoceros
with the two-humped Bactrian camel, sufficiently marks the line by which
the productions of India, occasionally at, any rate, reached Assyria.
The animals themselves were, we may be sure, very rarely transported.
Indeed, it is not till the very close of the Persian empire that we find
elephants possessed--and even then in scanty numbers--by the western
Asiatic monarchs. But the more portable products of the Indus region,
elephants' tusks, gold, and perhaps shawls and muslins, are likely to
have passed to the west by this route with far greater frequency.

The Assyrians were connoisseurs in hard stones and gems, which they seem
to have imported from all quarters. The lapis lazuli, which is found
frequently among the remains as the material of seals, combs, rings,
jars, and other small objects, probably came from Bactria or the
adjacent regions, whence alone it is procurable at the present day. The
cornelian used for cylinders may have come from Babylonia, which,
according to Pliny furnished it of the best quality in the more ancient
times. The agates or onyxes may have been imported from Susiana, where
they were found in the bed of the Choaspes (_Kerkhah_), or they may
possibly have been brought from India. Other varieties are likely to
have been furnished by Armenia, which is rich in stones; and hence too
was probably obtained the _shamir_, or emery-stone, by means of which
the Assyrians were enabled to engrave all the other hard substances
known to them.

That cedar-wood was imported into Assyria is sufficiently indicated by
the fact that, although no cedars grew in the country, the beams in the
palaces were frequently of this material. It may not, however, have been
exactly an article of commerce, since the kings appear to have cut it
after their successful expeditions into Syria, and to have carried it
off from Lebanon and Amanus as part of the plunder of the country.

Pearls, which have been found in Assyrian ear rings, must have been
procured from the Persian Gulf, one of the few places frequented by the
shell-fish which produces then. The pearl fisheries in these parts were
pointed out to Nearchus, the admiral of Alexander, and had no doubt been
made to yield their treasures to the natives of the coasts and islands
from a remote antiquity. The familiarity of the author of the book of
Job with pearls is to be ascribed to the ancient trade in them
throughout the regions adjoining the Gulf, which could not fail to bring
them at an early date to the knowledge of the Hebrews.

Engraved stones, generally in the shape of scarabs, seem to have been
largely imported from Egypt into Assyria, where they were probably used
either as amulets or as seals. They have been found in the greatest
plenty at Arban on the lower Khabour, the ancient Sidikan or Shadikanni,
which lies nearly at the extreme west of the Assyrian territory; but
many specimens have likewise been obtained from Nineveh and other of the
central Assyrian cities.

If we were to indulge in conjecture, we might add to this list of
Assyrian importations at least an equal number of commodities which,
though they have not been found in the ancient remains, may be fairly
regarded, on grounds of probability, as objects of trade between Assyria
and her neighbors. Frankincense, which was burnt in such lavish
profusion in the great temple at Babylon, was probably offered in
considerable quantities upon Assyrian altars, and could only have been
obtained from Arabia. Cinnamon, which was used by the Jews from the time
of the Exodus, and which was early imported into Greece by the
Phoenicians, who received it from the Arabians can scarcely have been
unknown in Assyria when the Hebrews were familiar with it. This precious
spice must have reached the Arabians from Ceylon or Malabar, the most
accessible of the countries producing it. Mullins, shawls, and other
tissues are likely to have come by the same route as the cinnamon; and
these may possibly have been among the "blue clothes and broidered work
and rich apparel" which the merchants of Asshur carried to Tyre in
"chests, bound with cords and made of cedar-wood." Dyes, such as the
Indian lacca, raw cotton, ebony and other woods, may have come by the
same line of trade; while horses and mules are likely to have been
imported from Armenia, and slaves from the country between Armenia and
the Halys River.

If from the imports of Assyria we pass to her exports, we leave a region
of uncertain light to enter upon one of almost total darkness. That the
"wares of Assyria" were among the commodities which the Phoenicians
imported into Greece at a very early period, we have the testimony of
Herodotus; but he leaves us wholly without information as to the nature
of the wares themselves. No other classical writer of real authority
touches the subject; and any conclusions that we may form upon it must
be derived from one of two sources, either general probability, or the
single passage in a sacred author which gives us a certain amount of
authentic information. From the passage in question, which has been
already quoted at length, we learn that the chief of the Assyrian
exports to Phoenicia were textile fabrics, apparently of great value,
since they were most carefully packed in chests of cedar-wood secured by
cords. These fabrics may have been "blue cloaks," or "embroidery," or
"rich dresses" of any kind, for all these are mentioned by Ezekiel; but
we cannot say definitely which Assyria traded in, since the merchants of
various other countries are joined in the passage with hers. Judging by
the monuments, we should conclude that at least a portion of the
embroidered work was from her looms and workshops; for, as has been
already shown, the embroidery of the Assyrians was of the most delicate
and elaborate description. She is also likely to have traded in rich
apparel of all kinds, both such as she manufactured at home, and such as
she imported from the far East by the lines of traffic which have been
pointed out. Some of her own fabrics may possibly have been of silk,
which in Roman times was a principal Assyrian export. Whether she
exported her other peculiar productions, her transparent and colored
glass, her exquisite metal bowls, plates, and dishes, her beautifully
carved ivories, we cannot say. They have not hitherto been found in any
place beyond her dominion, so that it would rather seem that she
produced them only for home consumption. Some ancient notices appear to
imply a belief on the part of the Greeks and Romans that she produced
and exported various spices. Horace speaks of Assyrian nard Virgil of
Assyrian _amomuum_, Tibullus of Assyrian odors generally. AEschylus has
an allusion of the same kind in his Agamemnon. Euripide, and Theocritus,
who mention respectively Syrian myrrh and Syrian frankincense, probably
use the word "Syrian" for "Assyrian." The belief thus implied is not,
however, borne out by inquiry. Neither the spikenard  nor the amonmum,
nor the myrrh tree, nor the frankincense tree, nor any other actual
spice, is produced within the limits of Assyria, which must always have
imported its own spices from abroad, and can only have supplied them to
other countries as a carrier. In this capacity she may very probably,
even in the time of her early greatness, have conveyed on to the coast
of Syria the spicy products of Arabia and India, and thus have created
an impression, which afterwards remained as a tradition, that she was a
great spice-producer as well as a spice-seller.

In the same way, as a carrier, Assyria may have exported many other
commodities. She may have traded with the Phoenicians, not only in her
own products, but in the goods which she received from the south and
east, from Bactria, India, and the Persian Gulf,--such as lapis lazuli,
pearls, cinnamon, muslins, shawls, ivory, ebony, cotton. On the other
hand, she may have conveyed to India, or at least to Babylon, the
productions which the Phoenicians brought to Tyre and Sidon from the
various countries bordering upon the Mediterranean Sea and even the
Atlantic Ocean, as tin, hides, pottery, oil, wine, linen. On this point,
however, we have at present no evidence at all; and as it is not the
proper office of a historian to indulge at any length in mere
conjecture, the consideration of the commercial dealings of the
Assyrians may be here brought to a close.

On the agriculture of the Assyrians a very few remarks will be offered.
It has been already explained that the extent of cultivation depended
entirely on the conveyance of water. There is good reason to believe
that the Assyrians found a way to spread water over almost the whole of
their territory. Either by the system of _kanats_ or subterranean
aqueducts, which has prevailed in the East from very early times, or by
an elaborate network of canals, the fertilizing fluid was conveyed to
nearly every part of Mesopotamia, which shows by its innumerable mounds,
in regions which are now deserts, how large a population it was made to
sustain under the wise management of the great Assyrians monarchs. Huge
dams seem to have been thrown across the Tigris in various places, one
of which (the Afrui) still remains, seriously impeding the navigation.
It is formed of large masses of squared stones, united together by
cramps of iron. Such artificial barriers were intended, not (as Strabo
believed) for the protection of the towns upon the river from a hostile
fleet, but to raise the level of the stream, in order that its water
might flow off into canals on one bank or the other, whence they could
be spread by means of minor channels over large tracts of territory. The
canals themselves have in most cases been gradually filled up. In one
instance, however, owing either to the peculiar nature of the soil or to
some unexplained cause, we are still able to trace the course of an
Assyrian work of this class and to observe the manner and principles of
its construction.

[Illustration: PLATE 134]

In the tract of land lying between the lower course of the Great Zab
River and the Tigris, in which was situated the important town of Calah
(now Nimrud), a tract which is partly alluvial, but more generally of
secondary formation, hard gravel, sandstone, or conglomerate, are the
remains of a canal undoubtedly Assyrian, which was carried for a
distance of more than five-and-twenty miles from a point on the Khazr or
Ghazr Su, a tributary of the Zab, to the south-eastern corner of the
Nimrud ruins. [PLATE CXXXIV., Fig. 1.] Originally the canal seems to
have been derived from the Zab itself, the water of which was drawn off,
on its northern bank, through a short tunnel--the modern Negoub--and
then conducted along a cutting, first by the side of the Zab, and
afterwards in a tortuous course across the undulating plain, into the
ravine formed by the Shor-Derreh torrent. The Zab, when this part of the
work was constructed, ran deep along its northern bank, and, sending a
portion of its waters into the tunnel, maintained a constant stream in
the canal. But after awhile the river abandoned its north bank for the
opposite shore; and, water ceasing to flow through the Negoub tunnel, it
became necessary to obtain it in some other way. Accordingly the canal
was extended northwards, partly by cutting and partly by tunnelling to
the Ghazr Su at about two miles above its mouth, and a permanent supply
was thenceforth obtained from that stream. The work may have been
intended in part to supply Calah with mountain water; but the remains of
dams and sluices along its course sufficiently show that it was a canal
for irrigation also. From it water was probably derived to fertilize the
whole triangle lying south of Nimrud between the two streams, a tract
containing nearly thirty square miles of territory, mostly very fertile,
and with careful cultivation well capable of supporting the almost
metropolitan city on which it abutted.

In Assyria it must have been seldom that the Babylonian system of
irrigation could have been found applicable, and the water simply
derived from the rivers by side-cuts, leading it off from the natural
channel. There is but little of Assyria which is flat and alluvial; the
land generally undulates, and most of it stands at a considerable height
above the various streams. The water therefore requires to be raised
from the level of the rivers to that of the lands before it can be
spread over them, and for this purpose hydraulic machinery of one kind
or another is requisite. In cases where the subterranean conduit was
employed, the Assyrians probably (like the ancient and the modern
Persians) sank wells at intervals, and raised the water from them by
means of a bucket and rope, the latter working over a pulley. Where they
could obtain a bank of a convenient height overhanging a river, they
made use of the hand-swipe, and with its aid lifted the water into a
tank or reservoir, whence they could distribute it over their fields. In
some instances, it would seem, they brought water to the tops of hills
by means of aqueducts, and then, constructing a number of small
channels, let the fluid trickle down them among their trees and crops.
They may have occasionally, like the modern Arabs, employed the labor of
an animal to raise the fluid; but the monuments do not furnish us with
any evidence of their use of this method. Neither do we find any trace
of water-wheels, such as are employed upon the Orontes and other swift
rivers, whereby a stream can itself be made to raise water from the land
along its bunks.

According to Herodotus, the kinds of grain cultivated in Assyria in his
time were wheat, barley, sesame, and millet. As these still constitute
at the present day the principal agricultural products of the county, we
may conclude that they were in all probability the chief species
cultivated under the Empire. The plough used, if we may judge by the
single representation of it which has come down to us, was of a rude and
primitive construction--a construction, however, which will bear
comparison with that of the implements to this day in use through modern
Turkey and Persia. Of other agricultural implements we have no specimens
at all, unless the square instrument with a small circle or wheel at
each corner, which appears on the same monument as the plough, may be
regarded as intended for some farming purpose. [PLATE CXXXIV., Fig. 2.]

Besides grain, it seems certain that the Assyrians cultivated the vine.
The vine will grow well in many parts of Assyria; and the monuments
represent vines, with a great deal of truth, not merely as growing in
the countries to which the Assyrians made their expeditions, but as
cultivated along the sides of the rivers near Nineveh, and in the
gardens belonging to the palaces of the kings. In the former case they
appear to grow without any support, and are seen in orchards intermixed
with other fruit-trees, as pomegranates and figs. In the latter they are
trained upon tall trees resembling firs, round whose stems they twine
themselves, and from which their rich clusters droop. Sometimes the long
lithe boughs pass across from tree to tree, forming a canopy under which
the monarch and his consort sip their wine.

Before concluding this chapter, a few remarks will be added upon the
ordinary private life of the Assyrians, so far as the monuments reveal
it to us. Under this head will be included their dress, their food,
their houses, furniture, utensils, carriages, etc., their various kinds
of labor, and the implements of labor which were known to them.

The ordinary dress of the common people in Assyria was a mere plain
tunic, or skirt, reaching from the neck to a little above the knee, with
very short sleeves, and confined round the waist by a broad belt or
girdle. Nothing was worn either upon the head or upon the feet. The
thick hair, carried in large waves from the forehead to the back of the
head, and then carefully arranged in three, four, or five rows of stiff
curls, was regarded as a sufficient protection both from sun and rain.
No head-covering was ever worn, except by soldiers, and by certain
officials, as the king, priests, and musicians. Sometimes, if the hair
was very luxuriant, it was confined by a band or fillet, which was
generally tied behind the back of the head. The beard was worn long, and
arranged with great care, the elaboration being pretty nearly the same
in the case of the king and of the common laborer. Laborers of a rank a
little above the lowest wore sandals, indulged in a fringed tunic, and
occasionally in a phillibeg, while a still higher class had a fringed
tunic and phillibeg, together with the close-fitting trouser and boot
worn by soldiers. These last are frequently eunuchs, who probably
belonged to a corps of eunuch laborers in the employ of the king.

Persons of the humbler laboring class wear no ornament, neither armlet,
bracelet, nor earrings. Armlets and bracelets mark high rank, and indeed
are rarely found unless the wearer is either an officer of the court, or
at any rate a personage of some consideration. Earrings seem to have
descended lower. They are worn by the attendants on sportsmen, by
musicians, by cavalry soldiers, and even occasionally by foot soldiers.
In this last case they are seldom more than a simple ring, which may
have been of bronze or of bone. In other cases the ring mostly supports
a long pendant.

[Illustration: PLATE 135]

Men of rank appear to have worn commonly a long fringed robe reaching
nearly to the feet. The sleeves were short, only just covering the
shoulder. Down to the waist, the dress closely fitted the form,
resembling, so far, a modern jersey; below this there was a slight
expansion, but still the scantiness of the robe is very remarkable. It
had no folds, and must have greatly interfered with the free play of the
limbs, rendering rapid movements almost impossible. A belt or girdle
confined it at the waist, which was always patterned, sometimes
elaborately. [PLATE CXXXV., Fig. 1.] If a sword was carried, as was
frequently the case, it was suspended, nearly in a horizontal position,
by a belt over the left shoulder, to which it was attached by a ring, or
rings, in the sheath. There is often great elegance in these
cross-belts, which look as if they were embroidered with pearls or
beads. [PLATE CXXXV., Fig. 2.] Fillets, earrings, armlets, and (in most
instances) bracelets were also worn by Assyrians of the upper classes.
The armlets are commonly simple bands, twisted round the arm once or
twice, and often overlapping' at the ends, which are plain, not
ornamented. [PLATE CXXXV., Fig.] The bracelets are of slighter
construction; their ends do not meet; they would seem to have been of
thin metal, and sufficiently elastic to be slipped over the hand on to
the wrist, which they then fitted closely. Generally they were quite
plain; but sometimes, like the royal bracelets, they bore in their
centre a rosette. Sandals, or in the later times shoes, completed the
ordinary costume of the Assyrian "gentleman."

Sometimes both the girdle round the waist, and the cross-belt, which was
often worn without a sword, were deeply fringed, the two fringes falling
one over the other, and covering the whole body from the chest to the
knee. Sometimes, but more rarely, the long robe was discarded, and the
Assyrian of some rank wore the short tunic, which was then, however,
always fringed, and commonly ornamented with a phillibeg.

Certain peculiar head-dresses and peculiar modes of arranging the hair
deserve special attention from their singularity. [PLATE CXXXV., Fig.
4.] They belong in general to musicians, priests, and other official
personages, and may perhaps have been badges of office. For instance,
musicians sometimes wear on their heads a tall stiff cap shaped like a
fish's tail; at other times their head-dress is a sort of tiara of

Their hair is generally arranged in the ordinary Assyrian fashion; but
sometimes it is worn comparatively short, and terminates in a double row
of crisp curls. Priests have head-dresses shaped like truncated cones. A
cook in one instance, wears a cap not unlike the tiara of the monarch,
except that it is plain, and is not surmounted by an apex or peak. A
harper has the head covered with a close-fitting cap, encircled with a
row of large beads or pearl; from which a lappet depends behind,
similarly ornamented. A colossal figure in a doorway, apparently a man,
though possibly representing a god, has the hair arranged in six
monstrous curls, the lowest three resting upon the shoulder. [PLATE
CXXXV., Fig. 6.]

Women of the better sort seem to have been dressed in sleeved gowns,
less scanty than those of the men, and either striped or else patterned
and fringed. Outside this they sometimes wore a short cloak of the same
pattern as the gown, open in front and falling over the arms, which it
covered nearly to the elbows. Their hair was either arranged over the
whole of the head in short crisp curls, or carried back in waves to the
ears, and then in part twisted into long pendent ringlets, in part
curled, like that of the men, in three or four rows at the back of the
neck. [PLATE CXXXV., Fig. 5.] A girdle was probably worn round the
waist, such as we see in the representations of goddesses, while a
fringed cross-belt passed diagonally across the breast, being carried
under the right arm and over the left shoulder. The feet seem to have
been naked, or at best protected by a sandal. The head was sometimes
encircled with a fillet.

[Illustration: PLATE 136]

Women thus apparelled are either represented as sitting in chairs and
drinking from a shallow cup, or else as gathering grapes, which, instead
of growing naturally, hang up on branches that issue from a winged
circle. The circle would seem to be emblematic of the divine power which
bestows the fruits of the earth upon man. [PLATE CXXXVI., Fig. 1.]

The lower class of Assyrian women are not represented upon the
sculptures. We may perhaps presume that they did not dress very
differently from the female captives so frequent on the bas-reliefs,
whose ordinary costume is a short gown not covering the ankles, and an
outer garment somewhat resembling the chasuble of the king. The head of
these women is often covered with a hood where the hair appears, it
usually descends in a single long curl. The feet are in every case

The ornaments worn by women appear to have been nearly the same as those
assumed by men. They consisted principally of earrings, necklaces, and
bracelets. Earrings have been found in gold laid in bronze, some with
and some without places for jewels. One gold earring still held its
adornment of petals. Bracelets were sometimes of glass, and were slipped
over the hand. Necklaces seem commonly to have been of beads, strung
together. A necklace in the British Museum is composed of glass beads
of a light blue color, square in shape and flat, with horizontal
flutings. [PLATE CXXXVI., Fig. 2.] Glass finger-rings have also been
found, which were probably worn by women.

We have a few remains of Assyrian toilet articles. A bronze disk, about
nine inches in diameter, with a long handle attached, is thought to have
been a mirror. In its general shape it resembles both the Egyptian and
the classical mirrors; but, unlike them, it is perfectly plain, even the
handle being a mere flat bar. [PLATE CXXXVI., Fig. 3.] We have also a
few combs. One of these is of iron, about three and a half inches long,
by two inches broad in the middle. It is double, like a modern
small-tooth comb, but does not present the feature, common in Egypt, of
a difference in the size of the teeth on the two sides. The very ancient
use of this toilet article in Mesopotamia is evidenced by the fact,
already noticed, that it was one of the original hieroglyphs whence the
later letters were derived. Another comb is of lapis lazuli, and has
only a single row of teeth. [PLATE CXXXVII., Fig. 1.] The small vases of
alabaster or fine clay, and the small glass bottles which have been
discovered in tolerable abundance, were also in all probability intended
chiefly for the toilet. They would hold the perfumed unguents which the
Assyrians, like other Orientals, were doubtless in the habit of using,
and the dyes wherewith they sought to increase the beauty of the

[Illustration: PLATE 137]

No doubt the luxury of the Assyrian women in these and other respects
was great and excessive. They are not likely to have fallen short of
their Jewish sisters either in the refinements or in the corruptions of
civilization. When then we hear of the "tinkling ornaments" of the Jewish
women in Isaiah's time, "their combs, and round tires like the moon,"
their "chains and bracelets and mufflers," their "bonnets, and ornaments
of the legs, and head-bands, and tablets and ear-rings," their "rings
and nose-jewels," their "changeable suits of apparel, and mantles, and
wimples, and crisping-pins," their "glasses, and fine linen, and hoods,
and veils," their "sweet smells, and girdles, and well-set hair, and
stomachers," we may be sure that in Assyria too these various
refinements, or others similar to them, were in use, and consequently
that the art of the toilet was tolerably well advanced under the second
great Asiatic Empire. That the monuments contain little evidence on the
point need not cause any surprise; since it is the natural consequence
of the spirit of jealous reserve common to the Oriental nations, which
makes them rarely either represent women in their mimetic art or speak
of them in their public documents.

If various kinds of grain were cultivated in Assyria, such as wheat,
barley, sesame, and millet, we may assume that the food of the
inhabitants, like that of other agricultural nations, consisted in part
of bread. Sesame was no doubt used, as it is at the present day,
principally for making oil; while wheat, barley, and millet were
employed for food, and were made into cakes or loaves. The grain used,
whatever it was, would be ground between two stones, according to the
universal Oriental practice even at the present day. It would then he
moistened with water, kneaded in a dish or bowl, and either rolled into
thin cakes, or pressed by the hand into smalls balls or loaves. Bread
and cakes made in this way still form the chief food of the Arabs of
these parts, who retain the habits of antiquity. Wheaten bread is
generally eaten by preference; but the poorer sort are compelled to be
content with the coarse millet or _durra_ flour, which is made into
cakes, and then eaten with milk, butter, oil, or the fat of animals.

Dates, the principal support of the inhabitants of Chaldaea, or
Babylonia, both in ancient and in modern times, were no doubt also an
article of food in Assyria, though scarcely to any great extent. The
date-palm does not bear well above the alluvium, and such fruit as it
produces in the upper country is very little esteemed. Olives were
certainly cultivated under the Empire, and the oil extracted from them
was in great request. Honey was abundant, and wine plentiful.
Sennacherib called his land "a land of corn and wine, a land of bread
and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey;" and the products here
enumerated were probably those which formed the chief sustenance of the
bulk of the people.

Meat, which is never eaten to any great extent in the East was probably
beyond the means of most persons. Soldiers, however, upon an expedition
were able to obtain this dainty at the expense of others; and
accordingly we find that on such occasions they freely indulged in it.
We see them, after their victories, killing and cutting up sheep and.
oxen, and then roasting the joints, which are not unlike our own, on the
embers of a wood-fires [PLATE CXXXVII., Fig. 2.] In the representations
of entrenched camps we are shown the mode in which animals were prepared
for the royal dinner. They were placed upon their backs on a high table,
with their heads hanging over its edge; one man held them steady in this
position, while another, taking hold of the neck, cut the throat a
little below the chin. The blood dripped into a bowl or basin placed
beneath the head on the ground. [PLATE CXXXVII., Fig. 3.] The animal was
then no doubt, paunched, after which it was placed either whole, or in
joints--in a huge pot or caldron, and, a fire being lighted underneath,
it was boiled to such a point as suited the taste of the king. [PLATE
CXXXVII., Fig. 5.] While the boiling progressed, some portions were
perhaps fried on the fire below. [PLATE CXXXVII., Fig. 5.] Mutton
appears to have been the favorite meat in the camp. At the court there
would be a supply of venison, antelope's flesh, hares, partridges, and
other game, varied perhaps occasionally with such delicacies as the
flesh of the wild ox and the onager.

Fish must have been an article of food in Assyria, or the monuments
would not have presented us; with so many instances of fishermen.
Locusts were also eaten, and were accounted a delicacy, as is proved by
their occurrence among the choice dainties of a banquet, which the royal
attendants are represented in one bas-relief as bringing into the palace
of the king. Fruits, as was natural in so hot a climate, were highly
prized; among those of most repute were pomegranates, grapes, citrons,
and, apparently, pineapples. [PLATE CXXXVII., Fig. 4.]

There is reason to believe that the Assyrians drank wine very freely.
The vine was cultivated extensively, in the neighborhood of Nimrud and
elsewhere; and though there is no doubt that, grapes were eaten, both
raw and dried, still the main purpose of the vineyards was
unquestionably the production of wine. Assyria was "a land of corn and
wine," emphatically and before all else. Great banquets seem to have
been frequent at the court, as at the courts of Babylon and Persia, in
which drinking was practised on a large scale. The Ninevites generally
are reproached as drunkards by Nahum. In the banquet-scenes of the
sculptures, it is drinking and not eating that is represented.
Attendants dip the wine-cups into a huge bowl or vase, which stands on
the ground and reaches as high as a man's chest and carry them full of
liquor to the guests, who straightway fall to a carouse. [PLATE
CXXXVIII., Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 138]

The arrangement of the banquets is curious. The guests, who are in one
instance some forty or fifty in number, instead of being received at a
common table, are divided into messes of four, who sit together, two and
two, facing each other, each mess having its own table and its own
attendant. The guests are all clothed in the long tasselled gown, over
which they wear the deeply fringed belt and cross-belt. They have
sandals on their feet, and on their arias armlets and bracelets. They
sit on high stools, from which their legs dangle; but in no case have
they footstools, which would apparently have been a great convenience.
Most of the guests are bearded men, but intermixed with them we see a
few eunuchs. Every guest holds in his right hand a wine-cup of a most
elegant shape, the lower part modelled into the form of a lion's head,
from which the cup itself rises in a graceful curve. [PLATE CXXXVIII.,
Fig. 2.] They all raise their cups to a level with their heads, and look
as if they were either pledging each other, or else one and all drinking
the same toast. Both the stools and the tables are handsome, and
tastefully, though not very richly, ornamented. Each table is overspread
with a table-cloth, which hangs down on either side opposite the guests,
but does not cover the ends of the table, which are thus fully exposed
to view. In their general make the tables exactly resemble that used in
a banquet scene by a king of a later date, but their ornamentation is
much less elaborate. On each of them appears to have been placed the
enigmatical article of which mention has been already made as a strange
object generally accompanying the king. Alongside of it we see in most
instances a sort of rude crescent. These objects have probably, both of
them, a sacred import, the crescent being the emblem of Sin, the
Moon-God, while the nameless article had some unknown religious use or

In the great banqueting scene at Khorsabad, from which the above
description is chiefly taken, it is shown that the Assyrians, like the
Egyptians and the Greeks in the heroic times, had the entertainment of
music at their grand feasts and drinking bouts. At one end of the long
series of figures representing guests and attendants was a band of
performers, at least three in number, two of whom certainly played upon
the lyre. The lyres were ten-stringed, of a square shape, and hung round
the player's neck by a string or ribbon.

The Assyrians also resembled the Greeks and Romans in introducing
flowers into their feasts. We have no evidence that they wore garlands,
or crowned themselves with chaplets of flowers, or scattered roses over
their rooms; but still they appreciated the delightful adornment which
flowers furnish. In the long train of attendance represented at Koyunjik
as bringing the materials of a banquet into the palace of the king, a
considerable number bear vases of flowers. [PLATE CXXXVIII., Fig. 3.]
These were probably placed on stands, like those which are often seen
supporting jars, and dispersed about the apartment in which the feast
was held, but not put upon the tables.

We have no knowledge of the ordinary houses of the Assyrians other than
that which we derive from the single representation which the sculptures
furnish of a village certainly Assyrian. It appears from this specimen
that the houses were small, isolated from one another, and either
flat-roofed, or else covered in with a dome or a high cone. They had no
windows, but must have been lighted from the top, where, in some of the
roofs, an aperture is discernible. The doorway was generally placed
towards one end of the house; it was sometimes arched, but more often

The doors in Assyrian houses were either single, as commonly with
ourselves, or folding (_fores_ or _valvoe_), as with the Greeks and
Romans, and with the modern French and Italians. Folding-doors were the
most common in palaces. They were not hung upon hinges, like modern
doors, but, like those of the classical nations, turned upon pivots. At
Khorsabad the pavement slabs in the doorways showed everywhere the holes
in which these pivots had worked, while in no instance did the wall at
the side present any trace of the insertion of a hinge. Hinges, however,
in the proper sense of the term, were not unknown to the Assyrians; for
two massive bronze sockets found at Nimrud, which weighed more than six
pounds each, and had a diameter of about five inches, must have been
designed to receive the hinges of a door or gate, hung exactly as gates
are now hung among ourselves. [PLATE CXXXVIII., Fig. 4.] The
folding-doors were fastened by bolts, which were shot into the pavement
at the point where the two doors met; but in the case of single doors a
lock seems to have been used, which was placed about four feet from the
ground, and projected from the door itself, so that a recess had to be
made in the wall behind the door to receive the lock when the door stood
open. The bolt of the lock was of an oblong square shape and was shot
into the wall against which the door closed.

The ordinary character of Assyrian furniture did not greatly differ from
the furniture of modern times. That of the poorer classes was for the
most part extremely plain, consisting probably of such tables, couches,
and low stools as we see in the representations which are so frequent,
of the interiors of soldier's tents. In these the tables are generally
of the cross-legged kind; the couches follow the pattern given in a
previous page of this volume, except that the legs do not end in
pine-shaped ornaments; and the stools are either square blocks, or
merely cut _en chevron_. There are no chairs. The low stools evidently
form the ordinary seats of the people, on which they sit to converse or
to rest themselves. [PLATE CXXXIX., Fig. 1.] The couches seem to have
been the beds whereon the soldiers slept, and it may be doubted if the
Assyrians knew of any other. [PLATE CXXXIX., Fig. 2.] In the case of the
monarch we have seen that the bedding consisted of a mattress, a large
round pillow or cushion, and a coverlet; but in these simple couches of
the poor we observe only a mattress, the upper part of which is slightly
raised and fitted into the curvature of the arm, so as to make a
substitute for a pillow. [PLATE CXXXIX., Fig. 2.] Perhaps, however, the
day-laborer may have enjoyed on a couch of this simple character
slumbers sounder and more refreshing than Sardanapalus amid his
comparative luxury.

[Illustration: PLATE 139]

The household utensils seen in combination with these simple articles of
furniture are few and somewhat rudely shaped. A jug with a long neck, an
angular handle, and a pointed bottom, is common: it usually hangs from a
nail or hook inserted into the tent-pole. Vases and bowls of a simple
form occur, but are less frequent. The men are seen with knives in their
hands, and appear sometimes to be preparing food for their meals; but
the form of the knife is marked very indistinctly. Some of the household
articles represented have a strange and unusual appearance. One is a
sort of short ladder, but with semicircular projections at the bottom,
the use of which is not apparent; another may be a board at which some
game was played; while a third is quite inexplicable. [PLATE CXXXIX.,
Fig. 8.] From actual discoveries of the utensils themselves, we know
that the Assyrians used dishes of stone, alabaster, and bronze. They had
also bronze cups, bowls, and plates, often elaborately patterned. The
dishes had commonly a handle at the side, either fixed or movable, by
which, when not in use, they could be carried or hung on pegs. [PLATE
CXXXIX., Fig. 6.] Chaldrons of bronze were also common: they varied from
five feet to eighteen inches in height, and from two feet and a half to
six feet in diameter. Jugs, funnels, ladles, and jars have been found in
the same metal; one of the funnels is shaped nearly like a modern wine
strainer. [PLATE CXXXIX., Fig. 4.]

The Assyrians made use of bronze bells with iron tongues, and, to render
the sound of these more pleasing, they increased the proportion of the
tin to the copper, raising it front ten to fourteen per cent. The bells
were always of small size, never (so far as appears) exceeding three
inches and a quarter in height and two inches and a quarter in diameter.
It is uncertain whether they were used, as modern bells, to summon
attendants, or only attached, as we see them on the sculptures, to the
collars and headstalls of horses.

Some houses, but probably not very many, had gardens attached to them.
The Assyrian taste in gardening was like that of the French. Trees of a
similar character, or tall trees alternating with short ones, were
planted in straight rows at an equal distance from one another, while
straight paths and walks, meeting each other at right angles, traversed
the grounds. Water was abundantly supplied by means of canals drawn off
from a neighboring river, or was brought by an aqueduct from a distance.
A national taste of a peculiar kind, artificial and extravagant to a
degree, caused the Assyrians to add to the cultivation of the natural
ground the monstrous invention of "Hanging Gardens:" an invention
introduced into Babylonia at a comparatively late date, but known in
Assyria as early as the time of Sennacherib. A "hanging garden" was
sometimes combined with an aqueduct, the banks of the stream which the
aqueduct bore being planted with trees of different kinds. At other
times it occupied the roof of a building, probably raised for the
purpose, and was supported upon a number of pillars. [PLATE CXXXIX.,
Fig. 5.]

The employments of the Assyrians, which receive some illustration from
the monuments, are, besides war and hunting--subjects already discussed
at length--chiefly building, boating, and agriculture. Of agricultural
laborers, there occur two or three only, introduced by the artists into
a slab of Sennacherib's which represents the transport of a winged bull.
They are dressed in the ordinary short tunic and belt, and are employed
in drawing water from a river by the help of hand-swipes for the purpose
of irrigating their lands. Boatmen are far more common. They are seen
employed in the conveyance of masses of stone, and of other materials
for building, ferrying men and horses across a river, guiding their boat
while a fisherman plies his craft from it, assisting soldiers to pursue
the enemy, and the like. They wear the short tunic and belt, and
sometimes have their hair encircled with a fillet. Of laborers, employed
in work connected with building, the examples are numerous. In the long
series of slabs representing the construction of some of Sennacherib's
great works, although the bulk of those employed as laborers appear to
be foreign captives, there are a certain number of the duties--duties
less purely mechanical than the others which are devolved on Assyrians.
Assyrians load the hand-carts, and sometimes even draw them [PLATE
CXXXIX., Fig. 7], convey the implements--pickaxes, saws, shovels,
hatchets, beams, forks, coils of rope--place the rollers, arrange the
lever and work it, keep the carved masses of stone steady as they are
moved along to their proper places, urge on the gangs of forced laborers
with sticks, and finally direct the whole of the proceedings by signals,
which they give with their voice or with a long horn. Thus, however
ample the command of naked human strength enjoyed by the Assyrian king,
who had always at his absolute disposal the labor of many thousand
captives, still there was in every great work much which could only be
intrusted to Assyrians, who appear to have been employed largely in the
grand constructions of their monarchs.

The implements of labor have a considerable resemblance to those in
present use among ourselves. The saws were two-handed; but as the handle
was in the same line with the blade, instead of being set at right
angles to it, they must have been somewhat awkward to use. The shovels
were heart-shaped, like those which Sir C. Fellows noticed in Asia
Minor. The pickaxes had a single instead of a double head, while the
hatchets were double-headed, though here probably the second head was a
mere knob intended to increase the force of the blow. [PLATE CXL., Fig.
1.] The hand-carts were small and of very simple construction: they were
made open in front and behind, but had a slight framework at the sides.
They had a pole rising a little in front, and were generally drawn by
two men. The wheels were commonly four-spoked. When the load had been
placed on the cart, it seems to have been in general secured by two
bands or ropes, which were passed over it diagonally, so as to cross
each other at the top.

[Illustration: PLATE 140]

Carts drawn by animals were no doubt used in the country; but they are
not found except in the scenes representing the triumphant returns of
armies, where it is more probable that the vehicles are foreign than
Assyrian. They have poles--not shafts--and are drawn by two animals,
either oxen, mules, or asses. The wheels have generally a large number
of spokes--sometimes as many as eleven. Representations of these carts
will be found in early pages.

The Assyrians appear to have made occasional use of covered carriages.
Several vehicles of this kind are represented on an obelisk in the
British Museum. They have a high and clumsy body, which shows no window,
and is placed on four disproportionately low wheels, which raise it only
about a foot from the ground. In front of this body is a small
driving-place, enclosed in trelliswork, inside which the coachman stands
to drive. Each of these vehicles is drawn by two horses. It is probable
that they were used to convey the ladies of the court; and they were
therefore carefully closed, in order that no curious glance of
passers-by might rest upon the charming inmates. [PLATE CXL., Fig. 3.]
The _carpentum_, in which the Roman matrons rode at the great public
festivals, was similarly closed, both in front and behind, as is evident
from the representations which we have of it on medals and tombs.

Except in the case of these covered vehicles, and of the chariots used
in war and hunting, horses (as already observed) were not employed for
draught. The Assyrians appear to have regarded them as too noble for
this purpose, unless where the monarch and those near to him were
concerned, for whose needs nothing was too precious. On the military
expeditions the horses were carefully fed and tended. Portable mangers
were taken with the army for their convenience; and their food, which
was probably barley, was brought to them by grooms in sieves or shallow
boxes, whence no doubt it was transferred to the mangers. [PLATE CXL.,
Fig. 2.] They appear to have been allowed to go loose in the camp,
without being either hobbled or picketed. Care was taken to keep their
coats clean and glossy by the use of the curry-comb, which was probably
of iron. [PLATE CXL., Fig. 4.]

Halters of two kinds were employed. Sometimes they consisted of a mere
simple noose, which was placed in the horse's mouth, and then drawn
tight round the chin. More often (as in the illustration) the rope was
attached to a headstall, not unlike that of an ordinary bridle, but
simpler, and probably of a cheaper material. Leading reins, fastened to
the bit of an ordinary bridle, were also common.

Such are the principal points connected with the peaceful customs of the
Assyrians, on which the monuments recently discovered throw a tolerable
amount of light. Much still remains in obscurity. It is not possible as
yet, without drawing largely on the imagination, to portray in any
completeness the private life even of the Assyrian nobles, much less
that of the common people. All that can be done is to gather up the
fragments which time has spared; to arrange them in something like
order, and present them faithfully to the general reader, who, it is
hoped, will feel a certain degree of interest in them severally, as
matters of archeology, and who will probably further find that he
obtains from them in combination a fair notion of the general character
and condition of the race, of its mingled barbarism and civilization,
knowledge and ignorance, art and rudeness, luxury and simplicity of
habits. The novelist and even the essayist may commendably eke out the
scantiness of facts by a free indulgence in the wide field of
supposition and conjecture: but the historian is not entitled to stray
into this enchanted ground. He must be content to remain within the tame
and narrow circle of established fact. Where his materials are abundant.
he is entitled to draw graphic sketches of the general condition of the
people; but where they are scanty, as in the present instance, he must
be content to forego such pleasant pictures, in which the coloring and
the filling-up would necessarily be derived, not from authentic data,
but from his own fancy.



"The graven image, and the molten image."--NAHUM i. 14

The religion of the Assyrians so nearly resembled--at least in its
external aspect, in which alone we can contemplate it--the religion of
the primitive Chaldaeans, that it will be unnecessary, after the full
treatment which that subject received in an earlier portion of this
work, to do much more than notice in the present place certain
peculiarities by which it would appear that the cult of Assyria was
distinguished from that of the neighboring and closely connected
country. With the exception that the first god in the Babylonian
Pantheon was replaced by a distinct and thoroughly national deity in the
Pantheon of Assyria, and that certain deities whose position was
prominent in the one occupied a subordinate position in the other, the
two religious systems may be pronounced, not similar merely but
identical. Each of them, without any real monotheism, commences with the
same preeminence of a single deity, which is followed by the same
groupings of identically the same divinities; and after that, by a
multitudinous polytheism, which is chiefly of a local character. Each
country, so far as we can see, has nearly the same worship-temples,
altars, and ceremonies of the same type--the same religious emblems--the
same ideas. The only difference here is, that in Assyria ampler evidence
exists of what was material in the religious system, more abundant
representations of the objects and modes of worship; so that it will be
possible to give, by means of illustrations, a more graphic portraiture
of the externals of the religion of the Assyrians than the scantiness of
the remains permitted in the case of the primitive Chaldaeans.

At the head of the Assyrian Pantheon stood the "great god." Asshur. His
usual titles are "the great Lord," "the King of all the Gods," "he who
rules supreme over the Gods." Sometimes he is called "the Father of the
Gods," though that is a title which is more properly assigned to Belus.
His place is always first in invocations. He is regarded throughout all
the Assyrian inscriptions as the especial tutelary deity both of the
kings and of the country. He places the monarchs upon their



"The graven image, and the molten image."--NAHUM i. 14

The religion of the Assyrians so nearly resembled--at least in its
external aspect, in which alone we can contemplate it--the religion of
the primitive Chaldaeans, that it will be unnecessary, after the full
treatment which that subject received in an earlier portion of this
work, to do much more than notice in the present place certain
peculiarities by which it would appear that the cult of Assyria was
distinguished from that of the neighboring and closely connected
country. With the exception that the first god in the Babylonian
Pantheon was replaced by a distinct and thoroughly national deity in the
Pantheon of Assyria, and that certain deities whose position was
prominent in the one occupied a subordinate position in the other, the
two religious systems may be pronounced, not similar merely but
identical. Each of them, without any real monotheism, commences with the
same preeminence of a single deity, which is followed by the same
groupings of identically the same divinities; and after that, by a
multitudinous polytheism, which is chiefly of a local character. Each
country, so far as we can see, has nearly the same worship-temples,
altars, and ceremonies of the same type--the same religious emblems--the
same ideas. The only difference here is, that in Assyria ampler evidence
exists of what was material in the religious system, more abundant
representations of the objects and modes of worship; so that it will be
possible to give, by means of illustrations, a more graphic portraiture
of the externals of the religion of the Assyrians than the scantiness of
the remains permitted in the case of the primitive Chaldaeans.

At the head of the Assyrian Pantheon stood the "great god." Asshur. His
usual titles are "the great Lord," "the King of all the Gods," "he who
rules supreme over the Gods." Sometimes he is called "the Father of the
Gods," though that is a title which is more properly assigned to Belus.
His place is always first in invocations. He is regarded throughout all
the Assyrian inscriptions as the especial tutelary deity both of the
kings and of the country. He places the monarchs upon their throne,
firmly establishes then in the government, lengthens the years of their
reigns, preserves their power, protects their forts and armies, makes
their name celebrated, and the like. To him they look to give them
victory over their enemies, to grant them all the wishes of their heart,
and to allow them to be succeeded on their thrones by their sons and
their sons' sons, to a remote posterity. Their usual phrase when
speaking of him is "Asshur, my lord." They represent themselves as
passing their lives in his service. It is to spread his worship that
they carry on their wars. They fight, ravage, destroy in his name.
Finally, when they subdue a country, they are careful to "set up the
emblems of Asshur," and teach the people his laws and his worship.

The tutelage of Asshur over Assyria is strongly marked by the identity
of his name with that of the country, which in the original is complete.
It is also indicated by the curious fact that, unlike the other gods,
Asshur had no notorious temple or shrine in any particular city of
Assyria, a sign that his worship was spread equally throughout the whole
land, and not to any extent localized. As the national deity, he had
given name to the original capital; but even at Asshur (_Kileh-Sherghat_)
it may be doubted whether there was any building which was specially his.
Therefore it is a reasonable conjectures that all the shrines throughout
Assyria were open to his worship, to whatever minor god they might happen
to be dedicated.

In the inscriptions the Assyrians are constantly described as "the
servants of Asshur," and their enemies as "the enemies of Asshur." The
Assyrian religion is "the worship of Asshur." No similar phrases are
used with respect to any of the other gods of the Pantheon.

We can scarcely doubt that originally the god Asshur was the great
progenitor of the race, Asshur, the son of Shen, deified. It was not
long, however, before this notion was lost, and Asshur came to be viewed
simply as a celestial being--the first and highest of all the divine
agents who ruled over heaven and earth. It is indicative of the
(comparatively speaking) elevated character of Assyrian polytheism that
this exalted and awful deity continued from first to last the main
object of worship, and was not superseded in the thoughts of men by the
lower and more intelligible divinities, such as Shamas and Sin, the Sun
and Moon, Nergal the God of War, Nin the God of Hunting, or Vul the
wielder of the thunderbolt.

[Illustration: PLATE 141]

The favorite emblem under which the Assyrians appear to have represented
Asshur in their works of art was the winged circle or globe, from which
a figure in a horned cap is frequently seen to issue, sometimes simply
holding a bow (Fig. I.), sometimes shooting his arrows against the
Assyrians' enemies (Fig II.). This emblem has been variously explained;
but the most probable conjecture would seem to be that the circle
typifies eternity, while the wings express omnipresence, and the human
figure symbolizes wisdom or intelligence. The emblem appears under many
varieties. Sometimes the figure which issues from it has no bow, and is
represented as simply extending the right hand (Fig. III.); occasionally
both hands are extended, and the left holds a ring or chaplet (Fig.
IV.). [PLATE CXLI., Fig. 1.] In one instance we see a very remarkable
variation: for the complete human figure is substituted a mere pair of
hands, which seem to come from behind the winged disk, the right open
and exhibiting the palm, the left closed and holding a bow. [PLATE
CXLI., Fig. 2.] In a large number of cases all sign of a person is
dispensed with, the winged circle appearing alone, with the disk either
plain or ornamented. On the other hand, there are one or two instances
where the emblem exhibits three human heads instead of one--the central
figure having on either side of it, a head, which seems to rest upon the
feathers of the wing. [PLATE CXLI., Fig. 3.]

It is the opinion of some critics, based upon this form of the emblem,
that the supreme deity of the Assyrians, whom the winged circle seems
always to represent, was in reality a triune god. Now certainly the
triple human form is very remarkable, and lends a color to this
conjecture; but, as there is absolutely nothing, either in the
statements of ancient writers, or in the Assyrian inscriptions, so far
as they have been deciphered, to confirm the supposition, it can hardly
be accepted as the true explanation of the phenomenon. The doctrine of
the Trinity, scarcely apprehended with any distinctness even by the
ancient Jews, does not appear to have been one of those which primeval
revelation made known throughout the heathen world. It is a fanciful
mysticism which finds a Trinity in the Eicton, Cneph, and Phtha of the
Egyptians, the Oromasdes, Mithras, and Arhimanius of the Persians, and
the Monas, Logos and Psyche of Pythagoras and Plato. There are abundant
Triads in ancient mythology, but no real Trinity. The case of Asshur is,
however, one of simple unity, He is not even regularly included in any
Triad. It is possible, however, that the triple figure shows him to us
in temporary combination with two other gods, who may be exceptionally
represented in this way rather than by their usual emblems. Or the three
heads may be merely an exaggeration of that principle of repetition
which gives rise so often to a double representation of a king or a god,
and which is seen at Bavian in the threefold repetition of another
sacred emblem, the horned cap.

It is observable that in the sculptures the winged circle is seldom
found except in immediate connection with the monarch. The great King
wears it embroidered upon his robes, carries it engraved upon his
cylinder, represents it above his head in the rock-tablets on which he
carves his image a stands or kneels in adoration before it, fights under
its shadow, under its protection returns victorious, places it
conspicuously in the scenes where he himself is represented on his
obelisks. And in these various representations he makes the emblem in a
great measure conform to the circumstances in which he himself is
engaged at the time. Where he is fighting, Asshur too has his arrow on
the string, and points it against the king's adversaries. Where he is
returning from victory, with the disused bow in the left hand and the
right hand outstretched and elevated, Asshur takes the same attitude. In
peaceful scenes the bow disappears altogether. If the king worships, the
god holds out his hand to aid; if he is engaged in secular arts, the
divine presence is thought to be sufficiently marked by the circle and
wings without the human figure.

An emblem found in such frequent connection with the symbol of Asshur as
to warrant the belief that it was attached in a special way to his
worship, is the sacred or symbolical tree. Like the winged circle, this
emblem has various forms. The simplest consists of a short pillar
springing from a single pair of rams' horns, and surmounted by a capital
composed of two pairs of rams' horns separated by one, two, or three
horizontal bands; above which there is, first, a scroll resembling that
which commonly surmounts the winged circle, and then a flower, very much
like the "honeysuckle ornament" of the Greeks. More advanced specimens
show the pillar elongated with a capital in the middle in addition to
the capital at the top, while the blossom above the upper capital, and
generally the stem likewise, throw out a number of similar smaller
blossoms, which are sometimes replaced by fir-cones or pomegranates.
[PLATE CXLI., Fig. 4. ] Where the tree is most elaborately portrayed, we
see, besides the stem and the blossoms, a complicated network of
branches, which after interlacing with one another form a sort of arch
surrounding the tree itself as with a frame. [PLATE CXLII., Fig.1.]

[Illustration: PLATE 142]

It is a subject of curious speculation, whether this sacred tree does
not stand connected with the _Asherah_ of the Phoenicians, which was
certainly not a "grove," in the sense in which we commonly understand
that word. The _Asherah_ which the Jews adopted from the idolatrous
nations with whom they came in contact, was an artificial structure,
originally of wood, but in the later times probably of metal, capable of
being "set" in the temple at Jerusalem by one king, and "brought out" by
another. It was a structure for which "hangings" could be made, to cover
and protect it, while at the same time it was so far like a tree that it
could be properly said to be "cut down," rather than "broken" or
otherwise demolished. The name itself seems to imply something which
stood, straight up; and the conjecture is reasonable that its essential
element was "the straight stem of a tree," though whether the idea
connected with the emblem was of the same nature with that which
underlay the phallic rites of the Greeks is (to say the least) extremely
uncertain. We have no distinct evidence that the Assyrian sacred tree
was a real tangible object: it may have been, as Mr. Layard supposes, a
mere type. But it is perhaps on the whole more likely to have been an
actual object; in which case we can not but suspect that it stood in the
Assyrian system in much the same position as the _Asherah_ in the
Phoenician, being closely connected with the worship of the supreme god,
and having certainly a symbolic character, though of what exact kind it
may not be easy to determine.

An analogy has been suggested between this Assyrian emblem and the
Scriptural "tree of life," which is thought to be variously reflected in
the multiform mythology of the East. Are not such speculations somewhat
over-fanciful There is perhaps, in the emblem itself, which combines the
horns of the ram--an animal noted for procreative power--with the image
of a fruit or flower-producing tree, ground for supposing that some
allusion is intended to the prolific or generative energy in nature; but
more than this can scarcely be said without venturing upon mere
speculation. The time perhaps ere long arrive when, by the
interpretation of the mythological tablets of the Assyrians, their real
notions on this and other kindred subjects may become known to us. Till
then, it is best to remain content with such facts as are ascertainable,
without seeking to penetrate mysteries at which we can but guess, and
where, even if we guess aright, we cannot know that we do so.

The gods worshipped in Assyria in the next degree to Asshur appear to
have been, in the early times, Anu and Vul; in the later, Bel, Sin,
Shamas, Vul, Nin or Ninip, and Nergal. Gula, Ishtar, and Beltis were
favorite goddesses. Hoa, Nebo, and Merodach, though occasional objects
of worship, more especially under the later empire, were in far less
repute in Assyria than in Babylonia; and the two last-named may almost
be said to have been introduced into the former country from the latter
during the historical period.

For the special characteristics of these various gods--common objects of
worship to the Assyrians and the Babylonians from a very remote
epoch--the reader is referred to the first part of this volume, where
their several attributes and their position in the Chaldaean Pantheon
have been noted. The general resemblance of the two religious systems is
such, that almost everything which has been stated with respect to the
gods of the First Empire may be taken us applying equally to those of
the Second; and the reader is requested to make this application in all
cases, except where some shade of difference, more or less strongly
marked, shall be pointed out. In the following pages, without repeating
what has been said in the first part of this volume, some account will
be given of the worship of the principal gods in Assyria and of the
chief temples dedicated to their service.


The worship of Anu seems to have been introduced into Assyria from
Babylonia during the times of Chaldaean supremacy which preceded the
establishment of the independent Assyrian kingdom. Shamas-Vul, the son
of Ishii-Dagon, king of Chaldaea, built a temple to Anu and Vul at
Asshur, which was then the Assyrian capital, about B.C. 1820. An
inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I., states that this temple lasted for 621
years, when, having fallen into decay, it was taken down by Asshurdayan,
his own great-grandfather. Its site remained vacant for sixty years.
Then Tiglath-Pileser I., in the beginning of his reign, rebuilt the
temple more magnificently than before; and from that time it seems to
have remained among the principal shrines in Assyria. It was from a
tradition connected with this ancient temple of Shamas-Vul, that Asshur
in later times acquired the name of Telane, or "the Mound of Anu," which
it bears in Stephen.

Anu's place among the "Great Gods" of Assyria is not so well marked as
that of many other divinities. His name does not occur as an element in
the names of kings or of other important personages. He is omitted
altogether from many solemn invocations. It is doubtful whether he is
one of the gods whose emblems were worn by the king and inscribed upon
the rock-tablets. But, on the other hand, where he occurs in lists, he
is invariably placed directly after Asshur; and he is often coupled with
that deity in a way which is strongly indicative of his exalted
character. Tiglath-Pileser I., though omitting him from his opening
invocation, speaks of him in the latter part of his great Inscription,
as his lord and protector in the next place to Asshur. Asshur-izir-pal
uses expressions as if he were Anu's special votary, calling himself
"him who honors Anu," or "him who honors Anu and Dugan." His son, the
Black-Obelisk king, assigns him the second place in the invocation of
thirteen gods with which he begins his record. The kings of the Lower
Dynasty do not generally hold him in much repute; Sargon, however, is an
exception, perhaps because his own name closely resembled that of a god
mentioned as one of Anu's sons. Sargon not infrequently glorifies Anu,
coupling him with Bel or Bil, the second god of the first Triad. He even
made Anu the tutelary god of one of the gates of his new city,
Bit-Sargina (Khorsabad), joining him in this capacity with the goddess

Anu had but few temples in Assyria. He seems to have had none at either
Nineveh or Calah, and none of any importance in all Assyria, except that
at Asshur. There is, however, reason, to believe that he was
occasionally honored with a shrine in a temple dedicated to another

BIL, or BEL.

The classical writers represent Bel as especially a Babylonian god, and
scarcely mention his worship by the Assyrians; but the monuments show
that the true Bel (called in the first part of this volume Bel-Nimrod)
was worshipped at least as much in the northern as in the southern
country. Indeed, as early as the time of Tiglath-Pileser I., the
Assyrians, as a nation, were especially entitled by their monarchs "the,
people of Belus;" and the same periphrasis was in use during the period
of the Lower Empire. According to some authorities, a particular quarter
of the city of Nineveh was denominated "the city of Belus" which would
imply that it was in a peculiar way under his protection. The word Bel
does not occur very frequently as an element in royal names: it was
borne, however, by at least three early Assyrian kings: and there is
evidence that in later times it entered as an element into the names of
leading personages with almost as much frequency as Asshur.

The high rank of Bel in Assyria is very strongly marked. In the
invocations his place is either the third or the second. The former is
his proper position, but occasionally Anu is omitted, and the name of
Bel follows immediately on that of Asshur. In one or two places he is
made third, notwithstanding that Anu is omitted, Shamas, the Sun-god,
being advanced over his head; but this is very unusual.

The worship of Bel in the earliest Assyrian times is marked by the royal
names of Bel-snmili-kapi and Bel-lush, borne by two of the most ancient
kings. He had a temple at Asshur in conjunction with Il or Ra, which
must have been of great antiquity, for by the time of Tiglath-Pileser I.
(B.C. 1130) it had fallen to decay and required a complete restoration,
which it received from that monarch. He had another temple at Calah;
besides which he had four "arks" or "tabernacles," the emplacement of
which is uncertain. Among the latter kings, Sargon especially paid him
honor. Besides coupling him with Anu in his royal titles, he dedicated
to him--in conjunction with Beltis, his wife--one of the gates of his
city, and in many passages he ascribes his royal authority to the favor
of Bel and Merodach. He also calls Bel, in the dedication of the
eastern gate at Khorsabad, "the establisher of the foundations of his

It may be suspected that the horned cap, which was no doubt a general
emblem of divinity, was also in an especial way the symbol of this god.
Esarhaddon states that he setup over "the image of his majesty the
emblems of Asshur, the Sun, Bel, Nin, and Ishtar." The other kings
always include Bel among the chief objects of their worship. We should
thus expect to find his emblem among those which the kings specially
affected; and as all the other common emblems are assigned to distinct
gods with tolerable certainty, the horned cap alone remaining doubtful,
the most reasonable conjecture seems to be that it was Bel's symbol.

It has been assumed in some quarters that the Bel of the Assyrians was
identical with the Phoenician Dagon. A word which reads _Da-gan_ is
found in the native lists of divinities, and in one place the
explanation attached seems to show that the term was among the titles of
Bel. But this verbal resemblance between the name Dagon and one of Bel's
titles is probably a mere accident, and affords no ground for assuming
any connection between the two gods, who have nothing in common one with
the other. The Bel of the Assyrians was certainly not their Fish-god;
nor had his epithet Da-gaga any real connection with the word _dag,_ "a
fish." To speak of "Bel-Dagon" is thus to mislead the ordinary reader,
who naturally supposes from the term that he is to identify the great
god Belus, the second deity of the first Triad, with the fish forms upon
the sculptures.

HEA, or HOA.

Hen, or Hoa, the third god of the first Triad, was not a prominent
object of worship in Assyria. Asshur-izir-pal mentions him as having
allotted to the four thousand deities of heaven and earth the senses of
hearing, seeing, and understanding; and then, stating that the four
thousand deities had transferred all these senses to himself, proceeds
to take Hoa's titles, and, as it were, to identify himself with the god.
His son, Shalmaneser II., the Black-Obelisk king gives Hoa his proper
place in his opening invocation, mentioning him between Bel and Sin.
Sargon puts one of the gates of his new city under Hoa's care, joining
him with Bilat Ili--"the mistress of the gods"--who is, perhaps, the
Sun-goddess, Gula. Sennacherib, after a successful expedition across a
portion of the Persian Gulf, offers sacrifice to Hoa on the seashore,
presenting him with a golden boat, a golden fish, and a golden coffer.
But these are exceptional instances; and on the whole it is evident that
in Assyria Hoa was not a favorite god. The serpent, which is his emblem,
though found on the black stones recording benefactions, and frequent on
the Babylonian cylinder-seals, is not adopted by the Assyrian kings
among the divine symbols which they wear, or among those which they
inscribe above their effigies. The word Hoa does not enter as an element
into Assyrian names. The kings rarely invoke him. So far as we can tell,
he had but two temples in Assyria, one at Asshur (Kileh-Sherghat) and
the other at Calah (Nimrud). Perhaps the devotion of the Assyrians to
Nin--the tutelary god of their kings and of their capital--who in so
many respects resembled Hoa, caused the worship of Hoa to decline and
that of Nin gradually to supersede it.


Beltis, the "Great Mother," the feminine counterpart of Bel, ranked in
Assyria next to the Triad consisting of Anu, Bel, and Hoa. She is
generally mentioned in close connection with Bel, her husband, in the
Assyrian records. She appears to have been regarded in Assyria as
especially "the queen of fertility," or "fecundity," and so as "the
queen of the lands," thus resembling the Greek Demeter, who, like
Beltis, was known as: "the Great Mother." Sargon placed one of his gates
under the protection of Beltis in conjunction with her husband, Bel: and
Asshur-bani-pal, his great-grandson, repaired and rededicated to her a
temple at Nineveh, which stood on the great mound of Koyunjik. She had
another temple at Asshur, and probably a third at Calah. She seems to
have been really known as Beltis in Assyria, and as Mylitta (Mulita) in
Babylonia, though we should naturally have gathered the reverse from the
extant classical notices.


Sin, the Moon-god, ranked next to Beltis in Assyrian mythology, and his
place is thus either fifth or sixth in the full lists, according as
Beltis is, or is not, inserted. His worship in the time of the early
empire appears from the invocation of Tiglath-Pileser I., where he
occurs in the third place, between Bel and Shamas. [PLATE CXLII., Fig.
2.] His emblem, the crescent, was worn by Asshur-izir-pal, and is found
wherever divine symbols are inscribed over their effigies by the
Assyrian kings. There is no sign which is more frequent on the
cylinder-seals, whether Babylonian or Assyrian, and it would thus seem
that Sin was among the most popular of Assyria's deities. His name
occurs sometimes, though not so frequently as some others, in the
appellations of important personages, as _e, g._ in that of Sennacherib,
which is explained to mean "Sin multiplies brethren." Sargon, who thus
named one of his sons, appears to have been specially attached to the
worship of Sin, to whom, in conjunction with Shamas, he built a temple
at Khorsabad, and to whom he assigned the second place among the
tutelary deities of his city.

The Assyrian monarchs appear to have had a curious belief in the special
antiquity of the Moon-god. When they wished to mark a very remote
period, they used the expression "from the origin of the god Sin." This
is perhaps a trace of the ancient connection of Assyria with Babylonia,
where the earliest capital, Ur, was under the Moon-god's protection, and
the most primeval temple was dedicated to his honor.

Only two temples are known to have been erected to Sin in Assyria. One
is that already mentioned as dedicated by Sargon at Bit-Sargina
(Khorsabad) to the Sun and Moon in conjunction. The other was at Calah,
and in that Sin had no associate.


Shamas, the Sun-god, though in rank inferior to Sin, seems to have been
a still more favorite and more universal object of worship. From many
passages we should have gathered that he was second only to Asshur in
the estimation of the Assyrian monarchs, who sometimes actually place
him above Bel in their lists. His emblem, the four-rayed orb, is worn by
the king upon his neck, and seen more commonly than almost any other
upon the cylinder-seals. It is even in some instances united with that
of Asshur, the central circle of Asshur's emblem being marked by the
fourfold rays of Shamas.

The worship of Shamas was ancient in Assyria. Tiglath-Pileser I., not
only names him in his invocation, but represents himself as ruling
especially under his auspices. Asshur-izir-pal mentions Asshur and
Shamas as the tutelary deities under whose influence he carried on his
various wars. His son, the Black-Obelisk king, assigns to Shamas his
proper place among the gods whose favor he invokes at the commencement
of his long Inscription. The kings of the Lower Empire were even more
devoted to him than their predecessors. Sargon dedicated to him the
north gate of his city, in conjunction with Vul, the god of the air,
built a temple to him at Khorsabad in conjunction with Sin, and assigned
him the third place among the tutelary deities of his new town.
Sennacherib and Esarhaddon mention his name next to Asshur's in passages
where they enumerate the gods whom they regard as their chief

Excepting at Khorsabad, where he had a temple (as above mentioned) in
conjunction with Sin, Shamas does not appear to have had any special
buildings dedicated to his honor. His images are, however, often noticed
in the lists of idols, and it is probable therefore that he received
worship in temples dedicated to other deities. His emblem is generally
found conjoined with that of the moon, the two being placed side by
side, or the one directly under the other. [PLATE CXLII., Fig. 3.]

VUL, or IVA.

This god, whose name is still so uncertain, was known in Assyria from
times anterior to the independence, a temple having been raised in his
sole honor at Asshur, the original Assyrian capital, by Shamas-Vul, the
son of the Chaldaean king Ismi-Dagon, besides the temple (already
mentioned) which the same monarch dedicated to him in conjunction with
Anu. These buildings having fallen to ruin by the time of
Tiglath-Pileser I., were by him rebuilt from their base; and Vul, who
was worshipped in both, appears to have been regarded by that monarch as
one of his special "guardian deities." In the Black-Obelisk invocation
Vul holds the place intermediate between Sin and Shamas, and on the same
monument is recorded the fact that the king who erected it held, on one
occasion, a festival to Vul in conjunction with Asshur. Sargon names Vul
in the fourth place among the tutelary deities of his city, and
dedicates to him the north gate in conjunction with the Sun-god, Shamas.
Sennacherib speaks of hurling thunder on his enemies like Vul, and other
kings use similar expressions. The term Vul was frequently employed as
an element in royal and other names; and the emblem which seems to have
symbolized him--the double or triple bolt--appears constantly among
those worn by the kings, and engraved above their heads on the
rock-tablets. [PLATE CXLII., Fig. 4.]

Vul had a temple at Calah besides the two temples in which he received
worship at Asshur. It was dedicated to him in conjunction with the
goddess Shala, who appears to have been regarded as his wife.

It is not quite certain whether we can recognize any representations of
Vul in the Assyrian remains. Perhaps the figure with four wings and a
horned cap, who wields a thunderbolt in either hand, and attacks
therewith the monster, half lion, half eagle, which is known to us from
the Nimrod sculptures, may be intended for this deity. If so, it will be
reasonable also to recognize him in the figure with uplifted foot,
sometimes perched upon an ox, and bearing, like the other, one or two
thunderbolts, which occasionally occurs upon the cylinders. It is
uncertain, however, whether the former of these figures is not one of
the many different representations of Nin, the Assyrian Hercules; and,
should that prove the true explanation in the one case, no very great
confidence could be felt in the suggested identification in the other.


Gula, the Sum-goddess, does not occupy a very high position among the
deities of Assyria. Her emblem, indeed, the eight-rayed disk, is borne,
together with her husband's, by the Assyrian monarchs, and is inscribed
on the rock-tablets, on the stones recording benefactions, and on the
cylinder-seals, with remarkable frequency. But her name occurs rarely in
the inscriptions, and, where it is found, appears low down in the lists.
In the Black-Obelisk invocation, out of thirteen deities named, she is
the twelfth. Elsewhere she scarcely appears, unless in inscriptions of a
purely religious character. Perhaps she was commonly regarded as so much
one with her husband that a separate and distinct mention of her seemed
not to be requisite.

Gula is known to have had at least two temples in Assyria. One of these
was at Asshur, where she was worshipped in combination with ten other
deities, of whom one only, Ishtar, was of high rank. The other was at
Calah, where her husband had also a temple. She is perhaps to be
identified with _Bilat-Ili_, "the mistress of the gods," to whom Sargon
dedicated one of his gates in conjunction with Hoa.


Among the gods of the second order, there is none whom the Assyrians
worshipped with more devotion than Nin, or Ninip. In traditions which
are probably ancient, the race of their kings was derived from him, and
after him was called the mighty city which ultimately became their
capital. As early as the thirteenth century B.C. the name of Nin was
used as an element in royal appellations; and the first king who has;
left us an historical inscription regarded himself as being in an
especial way under Nin's guardianship. Tiglath-Pileser I., is "the
illustrious prince whom Asshur and Nin have exalted to the utmost wishes
of his heart." He speaks of Nin sometimes singly, sometimes in
conjunction with Asshur, as his "guardian deity." Nin and Nergal make
his weapons sharp for him, and under Nin's auspices the fiercest beasts
of the field fall beneath them. Asshur-izir-pal built him a magnificent
temple at Nimrud (Calah). Shamas-Vul, the grandson of this king,
dedicated to him the obelisk which he set up at that place in
commemoration of his victories. Sargon placed his newly-built city in
part under his protection, and specially invoked him to guard his
magnificent palace. The ornamentation of that edifice indicated in a
very striking way the reverence of the builder for this god, whose
symbol, the winged bull, guarded all its main gateways, and who seems to
have been actually represented by the figure strangling a lion, so
conspicuous on the _Hareem_ portal facing the great court. Nor did
Sargon regard Nin as his protector only in peace. He ascribed to his
influence the successful issue of his wars; and it is probably to
indicate the belief which he entertained on this point that he
occasionally placed Nin's emblems on the sculptures representing his
expeditions. Sennacherib, the son and successor of Sargon, appears to
have had much the same feelings towards Nin, as his father, since in his
buildings he gave the same prominence to the winged bull and to the
figure strangling the lion; placing the former at almost all his
doorways, and giving the latter a conspicuous position on the grand
facade of his chief palace. Esarhaddon relates that he continued in the
worship of Nin, setting up his emblem over his own royal effigy,
together with those of Asshur, Shamas, Bel, and Ishtar.

It appears at first sight as if, notwithstanding the general prominency
of Nin in the Assyrian religious system, there was one respect in which
he stood below a considerable number of the gods. We seldom find his
name used openly as an element in the royal appellations. In the list of
kings three only will be found with names into which the terms Nin
enters. But there is reason to believe that, in the case of this god, it
was usual to speak of him under a periphrasis; and this periphrasis
entered into names in lieu of the god's proper designation. Five kings
(if this be admitted) may be regarded as named after him, which is as
large a number as we find named after any god but Vul and Asshur.

The principal temples known to have been dedicated to Nin in Assyria
were at Calah, the modern Nimrud. There the vast structure at the
north-western angle of the great mound, including the pyramidical
eminence which is the most striking feature of the ruins, was a temple
dedicated to the honor of Nin by Asshur-izir-pal, the builder of the
North-West Palace. We can have little doubt that this building
represents the "busta Nini" of the clasical writers, the place where
Ninus (Nin or Nin-ip), who was regarded by the Greeks as the
hero-founder of the nation, was interred and specially worshipped. Nin
had also a second temple in this town, which bore the name of _Bit-kura_
(or Beth-kura), as the other one did of _Bit-zira_ (or Beth-zira). It
seems to have been from the fame of Beth-zira that Nin had the title
_Pal-zira_, which forms a substitute for Nin, as already noticed, in one
of the royal names.


Most of the early kings of Assyria mention Merodach in their opening
invocations, and we sometimes find an allusion in their inscriptions,
which seems to imply that he was viewed as a god of great power. But he
is decidedly not a favorite object of worship in Assyria until a
comparatively recent period. Vul-lush III., indeed claims to have been
the first to give him a prominent place in the Assyrian Pantheon; and it
may be conjectured that the Babylonian expeditions of this monarch
furnished the impulse which led to a modification in this respect of the
Assyrian religious system. The later kings, Sargon and his successors,
maintain the worship introduced by Vul-lush. Sargon habitually regards
his power as conferred upon him by the combined favor of Merodach and
Asshur, while Esarhaddon sculptures Merodach's emblem, together with
that of Asshur, over the images of foreign gods brought to him by a
suppliant prince. No temple to Merodach, is, however, known to have
existed in Assyria, even under the later kings. His name, however, was
not infrequently used as an element in the appellations of Assyrians.


Among the Minor gods, Nergal is one whom the Assyrians seem to have
regarded with extraordinary reverence. He was the divine ancestor from
whom the monarchs loved to boast that they derived their descent--the
line being traceable, according to Sargon, through three hundred and
fifty generations. They symbolized him by the winged lion with a human
head, or possibly sometimes by the mere natural lion; and it was to mark
their confident dependence on his protection that they made his emblems
so conspicuous in their palaces. Nin and Nergal--the gods of war and
hunting, the occupations in which the Assyrian monarchs passed their
lives--were tutelary divinities of the race, the life, and the homes of
the kings, who associate the two equally in their inscriptions and their

Nergal, though thus honored by the frequent mention of his name and
erection of his emblem, did not (so far as appears) often receive the
tribute of a temple. Sennacherib dedicated one to him at Tarbisi (now
Sherif-khan), near Khorsabad; and he may have had another at Calah
(Nimrud), of which he is said to have been one of the "resident gods."
But generally it would seem that the Assyrians were content to pay him
honor in other ways without constructing special buildings devoted
exclusively to his worship.


Ishtar was very generally worshipped by the Assyrian monarchs, who
called her "their lady," and sometimes in their invocations coupled her
with the supreme god Asshur. She had a very ancient temple at Asshur,
the primeval capital, which Tiglath-Pileser I., repaired and beautified.
Asshur-izir-pal built her a second temple at Nineveh, and she had a
third at Arbela, which Asshur-bani-pal states that he restored. Sargon
placed under her protection, conjointly with Anu, the western gate of
his city; and his son, Sennacherib, seems to have viewed Asshur and
Ishtar as the special guardians of his progeny. Asshur-bani-pal, the
great hunting king was a devotee of the goddess, whom he regarded as
presiding over his special diversion, the chase.

What is most remarkable in the Assyrian worship of Ishtar is the local
character assigned to her. The Ishtar of Nineveh is distinguished from
the Ishtar of Arbela, and both from the Ishtar of Babylon, separate
addresses being made to them in one and the same invocation. It would
appear that in this case there was, more decidedly than in any other, an
identification of the divinity with her idols, from which resulted the
multiplication of one goddess into many.

The name of Ishtar appears to have been rarely used in Assyria in royal
or other appellations. It is difficult to account for this fact, which
is the more remarkable, since in Phoenicia Astarte, which corresponds
closely to Ishtar, is found repeatedly as an element in the royal


Nebo must have been acknowledged as a god by the Assyrians from very
ancient times, for his name occurs as an element in a royal appellation
as early as the twelfth century B.C. He seems, however, to have been
very little worshipped till the time of Vud-lush III., who first brought
him prominently forward in the Pantheon of Assyria after an expedition
which he conducted into Babylonia, where Nebo had always been in high
favor. Vul-lush set up two statues to Nebo at Calah and probably built
him the temple there which was known as Bit-Siggil, or Beth-Saggil, from
whence the god derived one of his appellations. He did not receive much
honor from Sargon; but both Sennacherib and Esarhaddon held him in
considerable reverence, the latter even placing him above Merodach in an
important invocation. Asshur-bani-pal also paid him considerable
respect, mentioning him and his wife Warmita, as the deities under whose
auspices he undertook certain literary labors.

It is curious that Nebo, though he may thus almost be called a late
importation into Assyria, became under the Later Dynasty (apparently)
one of most popular of the gods. In the latter portion of the list of
Eponyms obtained from the celebrated "Canon," we find Nebo an element in
the names as frequently as any other god excepting Asshur. Regarding
this as a test of popularity we should say that Asshur held the first
place; but that his supremacy was closely contested by Bel and Nebo, who
were held in nearly equal repute, both being far in advance of any other

Besides these principal gods, the Assyrians acknowledged and worshipped
a vast number of minor divinities, of whom, however, some few only
appear to deserve special mention. It may be noticed in the first place,
as a remarkable feature of this people's mythological system, that each
important god was closely associated with a goddess, who is commonly
called his wife, but who yet does not take rank in the Pantheon at all
in accordance with the dignity of her husband. Some of these goddesses
have been already mentioned, as Beltis, the feminine counterpart of Bel;
Gala, the Sun-goddess, the wife of Shamas; and Ishtar, who is sometimes
represented as the wife of Nebo. To the same class belong Sheruha, the
wife of Asshur; Anata or Anuta, the wife of Anu; Dav-Kina, the wife of
Hea or Hoa; Shales, the wife of Vul or Iva; Zir-banit, the wife of
Merodach; and Laz, the wife of Nergal. Nin, the Assyrian Hercules, and
Sin, the Moon-god, have also wives, whose proper names are unknown, but
who are entitled respectively "the Queen of the Land" and "the great
Lady." Nebo's wife, according to most of the Inscriptions, is Warmita;
but occasionally, as above remarked, this name is replaced by that of
Ishtar. A tabular view of the gods and goddesses, thus far, will
probably be found of use by the reader towards obtaining a clear
conception of the Assyrian Pantheon:

[Illustration: Page 358]

It appears to have been the general Assyrian practice to unite together
in the same worship, under the same roof, the female and the male
principle. The female deities had in fact, for the most part, an
unsubstantial character: they were ordinarily the mere reflex image of
the male, and consequently could not stand alone, but required the
support of the stronger sex to give then something of substance and
reality. This was the general rule; but at the same time it was not
without certain exceptions. Ishtar appears almost always as an
independent and unattached divinity; while Beltis and Gula are presented
to us in colors as strong and a form as distinct as their husbands, Bel
and Shamas. Again, there are minor goddesses, such as Telita, the
goddess of the great marshes near Babylon, who stand alone,
unaccompanied by any male. The minor male divinities are also, it would
seem, very generally without female counterparts.

Of these minor male divinities the most noticeable are Martu, a son of
Anu, who is called "the minister of the deep," and seems to correspond
to the Greek Erebus; Sargana, another son of Anu, from whom Sargon is
thought by some to have derived his name Idak, god of the Tigris;
Supulat, lord of the Euphrates; and Il or Ra, who seems to be the
Babylonian chief god transferred to Assyria, and there placed in a
humble position. Besides these, cuneiform scholars recognize in the
Inscriptions some scores of divine names, of more or less doubtful
etymology, some of which are thought to designate distinct gods, while
others may be names of deities known familiarly to us under a different
appellation. Into this branch of the subject it is not proposed to enter
in the present work, which addresses itself to the general reader.

It is probable that, besides gods, the Assyrians acknowledged the
existence of a number of genii, some of whom they regarded as powers of
good, others as powers of evil. The winged figure wearing the horned
cap, which is so constantly represented as attending upon the monarch
when he is employed in any sacred function, would seem to be his
tutelary genius--a benignant spirit who watches over him, and protects
him from the spirits of darkness. This figure commonly bears in the
right hand either a pomegranate or a pine-cone, while the left is either
free or else supports a sort of plaited bag or basket. [PLATE CXLII.,
Fig. 6.] Where the pine-cone is carried, it is invariably pointed
towards the monarch, as if it were the means of communication between
the protector and the protected, the instrument by which grace and power
passed from the genius to the mortal whom he had undertaken to guard.
Why the pine-cone was chosen for this purpose it is difficult to form a
conjecture. Perhaps it had originally become a sacred emblem merely as a
symbol of productiveness after which it was made to subserve a further
purpose, without much regard to its old symbolical meaning.

The sacred basket, held in the left hand, is of still more dubious
interpretation. It is an object of great elegance, always elaborately
and sometimes very tastefully ornamented. Possibly it may represent the
receptacle in which the divine gifts are stored, and from which they can
be taken by the genius at his discretion, to be bestowed upon the mortal
under his care.

Another good genius would seem to be represented by the hawk-headed
figure, which is likewise found in attendance upon the monarch,
attentively watching his proceedings. This figure has been called that
of a god, and has been supposed to represent the Nisroch of Holy
Scripture; but the only ground for such an identification is the
conjectural derivation of Nisroch from a root _nisr_, which in some
Semitic languages signifies a "hawk" or "falcon." As _nisr_, however,
has not been found with any such meaning in Assyrian, and as the word
"Nisroch" nowhere appears in the Inscriptions, it must be regarded as in
the highest degree doubtful whether there is any real connection between
the hawk-headed figure and the god in whose temple Sennacherib was
assassinated. [PLATE CXLII., Fig. 5.] The various readings of the
Septuagint version make it extremely uncertain what was the name
actually written in the original Hebrew text. Nisroch, which is utterly
unlike any divine name hitherto found in the Assyrian records, is most
probable a corruption. At any rate there are no sufficient grounds for
identifying the god mentioned, whatever the true reading of his name may
be, with the hawk-headed figure, which has the appearance of an
attendant genius rather than that of a god, and which was certainly not
included among the main deities of Assyria.

[Illustration: PLATE 143]

Representations of evil genii are comparatively infrequent; but we can
scarcely be mistaken in regarding as either an evil genius, or a
representation of the evil principle, the monster--half lion, half
eagle--which in the Nimrud sculptures retreats from the attacks of a
god, probably Vul, who assails him with thunderbolts. [PLATE CXLIII.,
Fig. I.] Again, in the case of certain grotesque statuettes found at
Khorsabad, one of which has already been represented, where a human
figure has the head of a lion with the ears of an ass, the most natural
explanation seems to be that an evil genius is intended. In another
instance, where we see two monsters with heads like the statuette just
mentioned, placed on human bodies, the legs of which terminate in
eagles' claws--both of them armed with daggers and maces, and engaged in
a struggle with one another--we seem to have a symbolical representation
of the tendency of evil to turn upon itself, and reduce itself to
feebleness by internal quarrel and disorder. A considerable number of
instances occur in which a human figure, with the head of a hawk or
eagle, threatens a winged human-headed lion--the emblem of Nergal--with
a strap or mace. In these we may have a spirit of evil assailing a god,
or possibly one god opposing another--the hawk-headed god or genius
driving Nergal (i.e., War) beyond the Assyrian borders.

If we pass from the objects to the mode of worship in Assyria, we must
notice at the outset the strongly idolatrous character of the religion.
Not only were images of the gods worshipped set up, as a matter of
course, in every temple dedicated to their honor, but the gods were
sometimes so identified with their images as to be multiplied in popular
estimation when they had several famous temples, in each of which was a
famous image. Thus we hear of the Ishtar of Arbela, the Ishtar of
Nineveh, and the Ishtar of Babylon, and find these goddesses invoked
separately, as distinct divinities, by one and the same king in one and
the same Inscription. In other cases, without this multiplication, we
observe expressions which imply a similar identification of the actual
god with the mere image. Tiglath-Pileser I., boasts that he has set Anu
and Vul (i.e., their images) up in their places. He identifies
repeatedly the images which he carries off from foreign countries with
the gods of those countries. In a similar spirit Sennacherib asks, by
the mouth of Rabshakeh, "_Where are the gods_ of Hamath and of Arpad?
_Where are the gods_ of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?"--and again unable to
rise to the conception of a purely spiritual deity, supposes that,
because Hezekiah has destroyed all the images throughout Judaea, he has
left his people without any divine protection. The carrying off of the
idols from conquered countries, which we find universally practised, was
not perhaps intended as a mere sign of the power of the conqueror, and
of the superiority of his gods to those of his enemies; it was probably
designed further to weaken those enemies by depriving them of their
celestial protectors; and it may even have been viewed as strengthening
of the conqueror by multiplying his divine guardians. It was certainly
usual to remove the images in a reverential manner; and it was the
custom to deposit them in some of the principal temples of Assyria. We
may presume that there lay at the root of this practice a real belief in
the super-natural power of the in images themselves, and a notion that,
with the possession of the images, this power likewise changed sides and
passed over from the conquered to the conquerors.

Assyrian idols were in stone, baked clay, or metal. Some images of Nebo
and of Ishtar have been obtained from the ruins. Those of Nebo are
standing figures, of a larger size than the human, though not greatly
exceeding it. They have been much injured by time, and it is difficult
to pronounce decidedly on their original workmanship: but, judging by
what appears, it would seem to have been of a ruder and coarser
character than that of the slabs or of the royal statues. The Nebo
images are heavy, formal, inexpressive, and not over well-proportioned;
but they are not wanting in a certain quiet dignity which impresses the
beholder. They are unfortunately disfigured, like so many of the lions
and bulls, by several lines of cuneiform writing inscribed round their
bodies; but this artistic defect is pardoned by the antiquarian, who
learns from the inscribed lines the fact that the statues represent
Nebo, and the time and circumstances of their dedication.

Clay idols are very frequent. They are generally in a good material, and
are of various sizes, yet never approaching to the full stature of
humanity. Generally they are mere statuettes, less than a foot in
height. Specimens have been selected for representation in the preceding
volume, from which a general idea of their character is obtainable. They
are, like the stone idols, formal and inexpressive in style, while they
are even ruder and coarser than those figures in workmanship. We must
regard them as intended chiefly for private use among the mass of the
population, while we must view the stone idols as the objects of public
worship in the shrines and temples.

Idols in metal have not hitherto appeared among the objects recovered
from the Assyrian cities. We may conclude, however, from the passage of
Nahum prefixed to this chapter, as well as from general probability,
that they were known and used by the Assyrians, who seem to have even
admitted them--no less than stone statues--into their temples. The
ordinary metal used was no doubt bronze; but in Assyria, as in
Babylonia, silver, and perhaps in some few instances gold, may have been
employed for idols, in cases where they were intended as proofs to the
world at large of the wealth and magnificence of a monarch.

The Assyrians worshipped their gods chiefly with sacrifices and
offerings, Tiglath-Pileser I., relates that he offered sacrifice to Anu
and Vul on completing the repairs of their temple. Asshur-izir-pal says
that he sacrificed to the gods after embarking on the Mediterranean.
Vul-lush IV, sacrificed to Bel-Merodach, Nebo, and Nergal, in their
respective high seats at Babylon, Borsippa, and Cutha. Sennacherib
offered sacrifices to Hoa on the sea-shore after an expedition in the
Persian Gulf. Esarhaddon "slew great and costly sacrifices" at Nineveh
upon completing his great palace in that capital. Sacrifice was clearly
regarded as a duty by the kings generally, and was the ordinary mode by
which they propitiated the favor of the national deities.

[Illustration: PLATE 144]

With respect to the mode of sacrifice we have only a small amount of
information, derived from a very few bas-reliefs. These unite in
representing the bull as the special sacrificial animal. In one we
simply see a bull brought up to a temple by the king; but in another,
which is more elaborate, we seem to have the whole of a sacrificial
scene fairly, if not exactly, brought before us. [PLATE CXLIV., Fig. 1.]
Towards the front of the temple, where the god, recognizable by his
horned cap, appears seated upon a throne, with an attendant priest, who
is beardless, paying adoration to him, advances a procession consisting
of the king and six priests, one of whom carries a cup, while the other
five are employed about the animal. The king pours a libation over a
large bowl, fixed in a stand, immediately in front of a tall fire-altar,
from which flames are rising. Close behind this stands the priest with a
cup, from which we may suppose that the monarch will pour a second
libation. Next we observe a bearded priest directly in front of the
bull, checking the advance of the animal, which is not to be offered
till the libation is over. The bull is also held by a pair of priests,
who walk behind him and restrain him with a rope attached to one of his
fore-legs a little above the hoof. Another pair of priests, following
closely on the footsteps of the first pair, completes the procession:
the four seem, from the position of their heads and arms, to be engaged
in a solemn chant. It is probable, from the flame upon the altar, that
there is to be some burning of the sacrifice; while it is evident, from
the altar being of such a small size, that only certain parts of the
animal can be consumed upon it. We may conclude therefore that the
Assyrian sacrifices resembled those of the classical nations, consisting
not of whole burnt offerings, but of a selection of choice parts,
regarded as specially pleasing to the gods, which were placed upon the
altar and burnt, while the remainder of the victim was consumed by
priest or people.

Assyrian altars were of various shapes and sizes. One type was square,
and of no great height; it had its top ornamented with gradines, below
which the sides were either plain or fluted. Another which was also of
moderate height, was triangular, but with a circular top, consisting of
a single flat stone, perfectly plain, except that it was sometimes
inscribed round the edge. [PLATE CXLIII. Fig. 2.] A third type is that
represented in the sacrificial scene. [PLATE CXLIV.] This is a sort of
portable stand--narrow, but of considerable height, reaching nearly to a
man's chin. Altars of this kind seem to have been carried about by the
Assyrians in their expeditions: we see them occasionally in the
entrenched camps, and observe priests officiating at them in their dress
of office. [PLATE CXLIII., Fig. 3.]

Besides their sacrifices of animals, the Assyrian kings were accustomed
to deposit in the temples of their gods, as thank-offerings, many
precious products from the countries which they overran in their
expeditions. Stones and marbles of various kinds, rare metals, and
images of foreign deities, are particularly mentioned; but it would seem
to be most probable that some portion of all the more valuable articles
was thus dedicated. Silver and gold were certainly used largely in the
adornment of the temples, which are sometimes said to have been made "as
splendid as the sun," by reason of the profuse employment upon them of
these precious metals.

It is difficult to determine how the ordinary worship of the gods was
conducted. The sculptures are for the most part monuments erected by
kings; and when these have a religious character, they represent the
performance by the kings of their own religious duties, from which
little can be concluded as to the religious observances of the people.
The kings seem to have united the priestly with the regal character; and
in the religious scenes representing their acts of worship, no priest
ever intervenes between them and the god, or appears to assume any but a
very subordinate position. The king himself stands and worships in close
proximity to the holy tree; with his own hand he pours libations; and it
is not unlikely that he was entitled with his own arm to sacrifice

But we can scarcely suppose that the people had these privileges.
Sacerdotal ideas have prevailed in almost all Oriental monarchies, and
it is notorious that they had a strong hold upon the neighboring and
nearly connected kingdom of Babylon. The Assyrians generally, it is
probable, approached the gods through their priests; and it would seem
to be these priests who are represented upon the cylinders as
introducing worshippers to the gods, dressed themselves in long robes,
and with a curious mitre upon their heads. The worshipper seldom comes
empty-handed. He carries commonly in his arms an antelope or young goat,
which we may presume to be an offering intended to propitiate the deity.
[PLATE CXLIV., Fig. 2.]

It is remarkable that the priests in the sculptures are generally, if
not invariably, beardless. It is scarcely probable that they were
eunuchs, since mutilation is in the East always regarded as a species of
degradation. Perhaps they merely shaved the beard for greater
cleanliness, like the priests of the Egyptians and possibly it was a
custom only obligatory on the upper grades of the priesthood.

We have no evidence of the establishment of set festivals in Assyria.
Apparently the monarchs decided, of their own will, when a feast should
be held to any god; and, proclamation being made, the feast was held
accordingly. Vast numbers, especially of the chief men, were assembled
on such occasions; numerous sacrifices were offered, and the festivities
lasted for several days. A considerable proportion of the worshippers
were accommodated in the royal palace, to which the temple was
ordinarily a mere adjunct, being fed at the king's cost, and lodged in
the halls and other apartments.

The Assyrians made occasionally a religious use of fasting. The evidence
on this point is confined to the Book of Jonah, which, however,
distinctly shows both the fact and the nature of the usage. When a fast
was proclaimed, the king, the nobles, and the people exchanged their
ordinary apparel for sackcloth, sprinkled ashes upon their heads, and
abstained alike from food and drink until the fast was over. The animals
also that were within the walls of the city where the fast was
commanded, had sackcloth placed upon them; and the same abstinence was
enforced upon them as was enjoined on the inhabitants. Ordinary business
was suspended, and the whole population united in prayer to Asshur, the
supreme god, whose pardon they entreated, and whose favor they sought to
propitiate. These proceedings were not merely formal. On the occasion
mentioned in the book of Jonah, the repentance of the Ninevites seems to
have been sincere. "God saw their works, that they turned from their
evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do
unto them: and he did it not."

The religious sentiment appears, on the whole, to have been strong and
deep-seated among the Assyrians. Although religion had not the
prominence in Assyria which it possessed in Egypt, or even in
Greece--although the temple was subordinated to the palace, and the most
imposing of the representations of the gods were degraded to mere
architectural ornaments--yet the Assyrians appear to have been really,
nay, even earnestly, religious. Their religion, it must be admitted, was
of a sensuous character. They not only practised image-worship, but
believed in the actual power of the idols to give protection or work
mischief; nor could they rise to the conception of a purely spiritual
and immaterial deity. Their ordinary worship was less one of prayer than
one by means of sacrifices and offerings. They could, however, we know,
in the time of trouble, utter sincere prayers; and we are bound
therefore to credit them with an honest purpose in respect of the many
solemn addresses and invocations which occur both in their public and
their private documents. The numerous mythological tablets testify to
the large amount of attention which was paid to religious subjects by
the learned; while the general character of their names, and the
practice of inscribing sacred figures and emblems upon their signets,
which was almost universal, seem to indicate a spirit of piety on the
part of the mass of the people.

The sensuous cast of the religion naturally led to a pompous ceremonial,
a fondness for processional display, and the use of magnificent
vestments. These last are represented with great minuteness in the
Nimrud sculptures. The dresses of those engaged in sacred functions seem
to have been elaborately embroidered, for the most part with religious
figures and emblems, such as the winged circle, the pine-cone, the
pomegranate, the sacred tree, the human-headed lion, and the like.
Armlets, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings were worn by the officiating
priests, whose heads were either encircled with a richly-ornamented
fillet, or covered with a mitre or high cap of imposing appearance.
Musicians had a place in the processions, and accompanied the religious
ceremonies with playing or chanting, or, in some instances, possibly
with both.

It is remarkable that the religious emblems of the Assyrian are almost
always free from that character of grossness which in the classical
works of art, so often offends modern delicacy. The sculptured remains
present us with no representations at all parallel to the phallic
emblems of the Greeks. Still we are perhaps not entitled to conclude,
from this comparative purity, that the Assyrian religion was really
exempt from that worst feature of idolatrous systems--a licensed
religious sensualism. According to Herodotus the Babylonian worship of
Beltis was disgraced by a practice which even he, heathen as he was,
regarded as "most shameful." Women were required once in their lives to
repair to the temple of this goddess, and there offer themselves to the
embrace of the first man who desired their company. In the Apocryphal
Book of Baruch we find a clear allusion to the same custom, so that
there can be little doubt of its having really obtained in Babylonia;
but if so, it would seem to follow, almost as a matter of course, that
the worship of the same identical goddess in the an joining country
included a similar usage. It may be to this practice that the prophet
Nahum alludes, where he denounces Nineveh as a "well-favored harlot,"
the multitude of whose harlotries was notorious.

Such then was the general character of the Assyrian religion. We have no
means of determining whether the cosmogony of the Chaldaeans formed any
part of the Assyrian system, or was confined to the lower country. No
ancient writer tells us anything of the Assyrian notions on this
subject, nor has the decipherment of the monuments thrown as yet any
light upon it. It would be idle therefore to prolong the present chapter
by speculating upon a matter concerning which we have at present no
authentic data.



The chronology of the Assyrian kingdom has long exercised, and divided,
the judgments of the learned. On the one hand, Ctesias and his numerous
followers--including, among the ancients, Cephalion, Castor, Diodorus
Siculus, Nicolas of Damascus, Trogus Pompeius, Velleius Paterculus,
Josephus, Eusebius, and Moses of Chorene; among the moderns, Freret,
Rollin, and Clinton have given the kingdom a duration of between
thirteen and fourteen hundred years, and carried hack its antiquity to a
time almost coeval with the founding of Babylon; on the other,
Herodotus, Volney, Ileeren, B. G. Niebuhr, Brandis, and many others,
have preferred a chronology which limits the duration of the kingdom to
about six centuries and a half, and places the commencement in the
thirteenth century B.C. when a flourishing empire had already existed in
Chaldaea, or Babylonia, for a thousand years, or more. The questions
thus mooted remain still, despite of the volumes which have been written
upon them, so far undecided, that it will be necessary to entertain and
discuss theirs at some length in this place, before entering on the
historical sketch which is needed to complete our account of the Second

The duration of a single unbroken empire continuously for 1306 (or 1360)
years, which is the time assigned to the Assyrian Monarchy by Ctesias,
must be admitted to be a thing hard of belief, if not actually
incredible. The Roman State, with all its elements of strength, had (we
are told), as kingdom, commonwealth, and empire, a duration of no more
than twelve centuries. The Chaldaean Monarchy lasted, as we have seen,
about a thousand years, from the time of the Elamite conquest. The
duration of the Parthian was about five centuries of the first Persian,
less than two and a half; of the Median, at the utmost, one and a half;
of the later Babylonian, less than one. The only monarchy existing under
conditions at all similar to Assyria, whereto an equally long--or rather
a still longer--duration has been assigned with some show of reason, is
Egypt. But there it is admitted that the continuity was interrupted by
the long foreign domination of the Hyksos, and by at least one other
foreign conquest--that of the Ethiopian Sabacos or Shebeks. According to
Ctesias, one and the same dynasty occupied the Assyrian throne during
the whole period, of thirteen hundred years. Sardanapalus, the last king
in his list, being the descendant and legitimate successor of Ninus.

There can be no doubt that a monarchy lasting about six centuries and a
half, and ruled by at least two or three different dynasties, is per se
a thing far more probable than one ruled by one and the same dynasty for
more than thirteen centuries. And therefore, if the historical evidence
in the two cases is at all equal--or rather, if that which supports the
more improbable account does not greatly preponderate--we ought to give
credence to the more moderate and probable of the two statements.

Now, putting aside authors who merely re-echo the statements of others,
there seem to be, in the present case, two and two only distinct
original authorities--Herodotus and Ctesias. Of these two, Herodotus is
the earlier. He writes within two centuries of the termination of the
Assyrian rule, whereas Ctesias writes at least thirty years later. He is
of unimpeachable honesty, and may be thoroughly trusted to have reported
only what he had heard. He had travelled in the East, and had done his
best to obtain accurate information upon Oriental matters, consulting on
the subject, among others, the Chaldaeans of Babylon. He had, moreover,
taken special pains to inform himself upon all that related to Assyria,
which he designed to make the subject of an elaborate work distinct from
his general history.

Ctesias, like Herodotus, had had the advantage of visiting the East. It
may be argued that he possessed even better opportunities than the
earlier writer for becoming acquainted with the views which the
Orientals entertained of their own past. Herodotus probably devoted but
a few months, or at most a year or two, to his Oriental travels; Ctesias
passed seventeen years at the Court of Persia. Herodotus was merely an
ordinary traveller, and had no peculiar facilities for acquiring
information in the East; Ctesias was court-physician to Artaxerxes
Mnemon, and was thus likely to gain access to any archives which the
Persian kings might have in their keeping. But these advantages seem to
have been more than neutralized by the temper and spirit of the man. He
commenced his work with the broad assertion that Herodotus was "a liar,"
and was therefore bound to differ from him when he treated of the same
periods or nations. He does differ from him, and also from Thucydides,
whenever they handle the same transactions; but in scarcely a single
instance where he differs from either writer does his narrative seem to
be worthy of credit. The cuneiform monuments, while they generally
confirm Herodotus, contradict Ctesias perpetually. He is at variance
with Manetho on Egyptian, with Ptolemy on Babylonian, chronology. No
independent writer confirms him on any important point. His Oriental
history is quite incompatible with the narrative of Scripture. On every
ground, the judgment of Aristotle, of Plutarch, of Arrian, of Scaliger,
and of almost all the best critics of modern times, with respect to the
credibility of Ctesias, is to be maintained, and his authority is to be
regarded as of the very slightest value in determining any controverted

The chronology of Herodotus, which is on all accounts to be preferred,
assigns the commencement of the Assyrian Empire to about B.C. 1250, or a
little earlier, and gives the monarchy a duration of nearly 650 years
from that time. The Assyrians, according to him, held the undisputed
supremacy of Western Asia for 520 years, or from about B.C. 1250 to
about B.C. 730--after which they maintained themselves in an independent
but less exalted position for about 130 years longer, till nearly the
close of the seventh century before our era. These dates are not indeed
to be accepted without reserve; but they are approximate to the truth,
and are, at any rate, greatly preferable to those of Ctesias.

The chronology of Berosus was, apparently, not very different from that
of Herodotus. There can be no reasonable doubt that his sixth Babylonian
dynasty represents the line of kings which ruled in Babylon during the
period known as that of the Old Empire in Assyria. Now this line, which
was Semitic, appears to have been placed upon the throne by the
Assyrians, and to have been among the first results of that conquering
energy which the Assyrians at this time began to develop. Its
commencement should therefore synchronize with the foundation of an
Assyrian Empire. The views of Berosus on this latter subject may be
gathered from what he says of the former. Now the scheme of Berosus gave
as the date of the establishment of this dynasty about the year B.C.
1300; and as Berosus undoubtedly placed the fall of the Assyrian Empire
in B.C. 625, it may be concluded, and with a near approach to certainty,
that he would have assigned the Empire a duration of about 675 years,
making it commence with the beginning of the thirteenth century before
our era, and terminate midway in the latter half of the seventh.

If this be a true account of the ideas of Berosus, his scheme of
Assyrian chronology would have differed only slightly from that of
Herodotus; as will be seen if we place the two schemes side by side.

[Illustration: PAGE 371]

In the case of a history so ancient as that of Assyria, we might well be
content if our chronology were vague merely to the extent of the
variations here indicated. The parade of exact dates with reference to
very early times is generally fallacious, unless it be understood as
adopted simply for the sake of convenience. In the history of Assyria,
however, we may make a nearer approach to exactness than in most others
of the same antiquity, owing to the existence of two chronological
documents of first-rate importance. One of these is the famous Canon of
Ptolemy, which, though it is directly a Babylonian record, has important
bearings on the chronology of Assyria. The other is an Assyrian Canon,
discovered and edited by Sir H. Rawlinson in 1862, which gives the
succession of the kings for 251 years, commencing (as is thought) B.C.
911 and terminating B. C. 660, eight years after the accession of the
son and successor of Esarhaddon. These two documents, which harmonize
admirably, carry up an exact Assyrian chronology almost from the close
of the Empire to the tenth century before our era. For the period
anterior to this we have, in the Assyrian records, one or two isolated
dates, dates fixed in later times with more or less of exactness; and of
these we might have been inclined to think little, but that they
harmonize remarkably with the statements of Berosus and Herodotus, which
place the commencement of the Empire about B.C. 1300, or a little later.
We have, further, certain lists of kings, forming continuous lines of
descent from father to son, by means of which we may fill up the blanks
that would otherwise remain in our chronological scheme with approximate
dates calculated from an estimate of generations. From these various
sources the subjoined scheme has been composed, the sources being
indicated at the side, and the fixed dates being carefully distinguished
from those which are uncertain or approximate.

[Illustration: PAGE 372]

It will be observed that in this list the chronology of Assyria is
carried back to a period nearly a century and a half anterior to B.C.
1300, the approximate date, according to Herodotus and Berosus, of the
establishment of the "Empire." It might have been concluded, from the
mere statement of Herodotus, that Assyria existed before the time of
which he spoke, since an empire can only be formed by a people already
flourishing. Assyria as an independent kingdom is the natural antecedent
of Assyria as an Imperial power: and this earlier phase of her existence
might reasonably have been presumed from the later. The monuments
furnish distinct evidence of the time in question in the fourth, fifth,
and sixth kings of the above list, who reigned while the Chaldaean
empire was still flourishing in Lower Mesopotamia. Chronological and
other considerations induce a belief that the four kings who follow
like-wise belonged to it; and that, the "Empire" commenced with
Tiglathi-Nin I., who is the first great conqueror.

The date assigned to the accession of this king, B.C. 1300, which
accords so nearly with Berosus's date for the commencement of his 526
years, is obtained from the monuments in the following manner. First,
Sennacherib, in an inscription set up in or about his tenth year (which
was B.C. 694), states that he recovered from Babylon certain images of
gods, which had been carried thither by Meroclach-idbin-akhi, king of
Babylon, who had obtained them in his war with Tiglath-Pileser, king of
Assyria, 418 years previously. This gives for the date of the war with
Tiglath-Pileser the year B.C. 1112. As that monarch does not mention the
Babylonian war in the annals which relate the events of his early years,
we must suppose his defeat to have taken place towards the close of his
reign, and assign him the space from B.C. 1130 to B.C. 1110, as,
approximately, that during which he is likely to have held the throne.
Allowing then to the six monumental kings who preceded Tiglath-Pileser
average reigns of twenty years each, which is the actual average
furnished by the lines of direct descent in Assyria, where the length of
each reign is known, and allowing fifty years for the break between
Tiglathi-Nin and Bel-kudur-uzur, we are brought to (1130 + 120 + 50)
B.C. 1300 for the accession of the first Tiglathi-Nin, who took Babylon,
and is the first king of whom extensive conquests are recorded.
Secondly. Sennacherib in another inscription reckons 600 years from his
first conquest of Babylon (B.C. 703) to a year in the reign of this
monarch. This "six hundred" may be used as a round number; but as
Sennacherib considered that he had the means of calculating exactly, he
would probably not have used a round number, unless it was tolerably
near to the truth. Six hundred years before B.C. 703 brings us to B.C.

The chief uncertainty which attaches to the numbers in this part of the
list arises from the fact that the nine kings from Tiglathi-Nin
downwards do not form a single direct line. The inscriptions fail to
connect Bel-kudur-uzur with Tiglathi-Nin, and there is thus a probable
interval between the two reigns, the length of which can only be

The dates assigned to the later kings, from Vul-lush II., to Esarhaddon
inclusive, are derived from the Assyrian Canon taken in combination with
the famous Canon of Ptolemy. The agreement between these documents, and
between the latter and the Assyrian records generally, is exact; and a
conformation is thus afforded to Ptolemy which is of no small
importance. The dates from the accession of Vul-lush II. (B.C. 911) to
the death of Esarhaddon (B.C. 668) would seem to have the same degree of
accuracy and certainty which has been generally admitted to attach to
the numbers of Ptolemy. They have been confirmed by the notice of a
great eclipse in the eighth year of Asshur-dayan III., which is
undoubtedly that of June 15, B.C. 763.

The reign of Asshur-bani-pal (Sardanapalus), the son and successor of
Esarhaddon, which commenced B.C. 668, is carried down to B.C. 626 on the
combined authority of Berosus, Ptolemy, and the monuments. The monuments
show that Asshur-bani-pal proclaimed himself king of Babylon after the
death of Saul-mugina whose last year was (according to Ptolemy) B.C.
647: and that from the date of this proclamation he reigned over Babylon
at least twenty years. Polyhistor, who reports Berosus, has left us
statements which are in close accordance, and from which we gather that
the exact length of the reign of Asshur-bani-pal over Babylon was
twenty-one years. Hence, B.C. 626 is obtained as the year of his death.
As Nineveh appears to have been destroyed B.C. 625 or 624, two
years only are left for Asshur-bani-pal's son and successor,
Asshur-emid-illin, the Saracus of Abydenus.

The framework of Assyrian chronology being thus approximately, and, to
some extent, provisionally settled, we may proceed to arrange upon it
the facts so far as they have come down to us, of Assyrian history.

In the first place, then, if we ask ourselves where the Assyrians came
from, and at what time they settled in the country which thenceforth
bore their name, we seem to have an answer,at any rate to the former of
these two questions, in Scripture. "Out of that land"--the land of
Shinar--"went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh." The Assyrians,
previously to their settlement on the middle Tigris, had dwelt in the
lower part of the great valley--the flat alluvial plain towards the
mouths of the two streams. It was here, in this productive region, where
nature does so much for man, and so little needs to be supplied by
himself, that they had grown from a family into a people; that they had
learnt or developed a religion, and that they had acquired a knowledge
of the most useful and necessary of the arts. It has been observed in a
former chapter that the whole character of the Assyrian architecture is
such as to indicate that their style was formed in the low flat
alluvium, where there were no natural elevations, and stone was not to
be had. It has also been remarked that their writing is manifestly
derived from the Chaldaean; and that their religion is almost identical
with that which prevailed in the lower country from a very early time.
The evidence of the monuments accords thus, in the most striking way,
with the statement of the Bible, exhibiting to us the Assyrians as a
people who had once dwelt to the south, in close contact with the
Chaldaeans, and had removed after awhile to a more northern position.

With regard to the date of their removal, we can only say that it was
certainly anterior to the time of the Chaldaean kings, Purna-puriyas and
Kurri-galzu, who seem to have reigned in the fifteenth century before
our era. If we could be sure that the city called in later times Asshur
bore that name when Shamas-Vul, the son of Ismi-Dagon, erected a temple
there to Anu and Vul, we might assign to the movement a still higher
antiquity for Shamas-Vul belongs to the nineteenth century B.C. As,
however, we have no direct evidence that either the city or the country
was known as Asshur until four centuries later, we must be content to
lay it down that the Assyrians had moved to the north certainly as early
as B.C. 1440, and that their removal may not improbably have taken place
several centuries earlier.

The motive of the removal is shrouded in complete obscurity. It may have
been a forced colonization, commanded and carried out by the Chaldaean
kings, who may have originated a system of transplanting to distant
regions subject tribes of doubtful fidelity; or it may have been the
voluntary self-expatriation of an increasing race, pressed for room and
discontented with its condition. Again, it may have taken place by a
single great movement, like that of the Tartar tribes, who transferred
their allegiance from Russia to China in the reign of the Empress
Catherine, and emigrated in a body from the banks of the Dun to the
eastern limits of Mongolia or it may have been a gradual and protracted
change, covering a long term of years, like most of the migrations
whereof we read in history. On the whole, there is perhaps some reason
to believe that a spirit of enterprise about this time possessed the
Semitic inhabitants of Lower Mesopotamia, who voluntarily proceeded
northwards in the hope of bettering their condition. Terah conducted one
body from Ur to Harran: another removed itself from the shores of the
Persian Gulf to those of the Mediterranean; while probably a third,
larger than either of these two, ascended the course of the Tigris,
occupied Adiabene, with the adjacent regions, and, giving its own tribal
name of Asshur to its chief city and territory, became known to its
neighbors first as a distinct, and then as an independent and powerful

The Assyrians for some time after their change of abode were probably
governed by Babylonian rulers, who held their office under the Chaldaean
Emperor. Bricks of a Babylonian character have been found at
Kileh-Sherghat, the original Assyrian capital, which are thought to be
of greater antiquity than any of the purely Assyrian remains, and which
may have been stamped by these provincial governors. Ere long, however,
the yoke was thrown off, and the Assyrians established a separate
monarchy of their own in the upper country, while the Chaldaean Empire
was still flourishing under native monarchs of the old ethnic type in
the regions nearer to the sea. The special evidence which we possess of
the co-existence side by side of these two kingdoms is furnished by a
broken tablet of a considerably later date, which seems to have
contained, when complete, a brief but continuous sketch of the
synchronous history of Babylonia and Assyria, and of the various
transactions in which the monarchs of the two countries had been engaged
one with another, from the most ancient times. This tablet has preserved
to its the names of three very early Assyrian kings--Asshur-bil-nisi-su,
Buzur Asshur, and Asshur-upallit, of whom the two former are recorded to
have made treaties of peace with the contemporary kings of Babylon;
while the last-named intervened in the domestic affair's of the country,
depriving an usurping monarch of the throne, and restoring it to the
legitimate claimant, who was his own relation. Intermarriages, it
appears, took place at this early date between the royal families of
Assyria and Chaldaea; and Asshur-upallit, the third of the three kings,
had united one of his daughters to Purna-puriyas, a Chaldaean monarch
who has received notice in the preceding volume. On the death of
Purna-puriyas, Kara-khar-das, the issue of this marriage, ascended the
throne; but he had not reigned long before his subjects rebelled against
his authority. A struggle ensued, in which he was slain, whereupon a
certain Nazi-bugas, an usurper, became king, the line of Purna-puriyas
being set aside. Asshur-upallit, upon this, interposed. Marching an army
into Babylonia, he defeated and slew the usurper, after which he placed
on the throne another son of Purna-puriyas, the Kurri-galzu already
mentioned in the account of the king's of Chaldaea.

What is most remarkable in the glimpse of history which this tablet
opens to us is the power of Assyria, and the apparent terms of equality
on which she stands with her neighbor. Not only does she treat as an
equal with the great Southern Empire--not only is her royal house deemed
worthy of furnishing wives to its princes but when dynastic troubles
arise there, she exercises a predominant influence over the fortunes of
the contending parties, and secures victory to the side whose cause she
espouses. Jealous as all nations are of foreign inter-position in their
affairs, we may be sure that Babylonia would not have succumbed on this
occasion to Assyria's influence, had not her weight been such that,
added to one side in a civil struggle, it produced a preponderance which
defied resistance.

After this one short lift, the curtain again drops over the history of
Assyria for a space of about sixty years, during which our records tell
us nothing but the mere names of the king's. It appears from the bricks
of Kileh-Sherghat that Asshur-upallit was succeeded upon the throne by
his son, Bel-lush, or Behiklhus (Belochush), who was in his turn
followed by his son, Pudil, his grandson. Vul-lush, and his
great-grandson, Shahmaneser, the first of the name. Of Bel-lush, Pudil,
and Vul-lush I., we know only that they raised or repaired important
buildings in their city of Asshur (now Kileh-Sherghat), which in their
time, and for some centuries later, was the capital of the monarchy.

This place was not very favorably situated, being on the right bank of
the Tigris, which is a far less fertile region than the left, and not
being naturally a place of any great strength. The Assyrian territory
did not at this time, it is probable, extend very far to the north: at
any rate, no need was as yet felt for a second city higher up the Tigris
valley, much less for a transfer of the seat of government in that
direction. Calah was certainly, and Nineveh probably, not yet built; but
still the kingdom had obtained a name among the nations; the term
Assyria was applied geographically to the whole valley of the middle
Tigris; and a prophetic eye could see in the hitherto quiescent power
the nation fated to send expeditions into Palestine, and to bear off its
inhabitants into captivity.

Shahnaneser I. (ab. B.C. 1320) is chiefly known in Assyrian history as
the founder of Calah (Nimrud), the second, apparently, of those great
cities which the Assyrian monarchs delighted to build and embellish.
This foundation would of itself be sufficient to imply the growth of
Assyria in his time towards the north, and would also mark its full
establishment as the dominant power on the left as well as the right
bank of the Tigris. Calah was very advantageously situated in a region
of great fertility and of much natural strength, being protected on one
side by the Tigris, and on the other by the Shor-Derreh torrent, while
the Greater Zab further defended it at the distance of a few miles on
the south and south-east, and the Khazr or Ghazr-Su on the north east.
Its settlement must have secured to the Assyrians the undisturbed
possession of the fruitful and important district between the Tigris and
the mountains, the Aturia or Assyria Proper of later times, which
ultimately became the great metropolitan region in which almost all the
chief towns were situated.

It is quite in accordance with this erection of a sort of second
capital, further to the north than the old one, to find, as we do, by
the inscriptions of Asshur-izir-pal, that Shalmaneser undertook
expeditions against the tribes on the upper Tigris, and even founded
cities in those parts, which he colonized with settlers brought from a
distance. We do not know what the exact bounds of Assyria towards the
north were before his time, but there can be no doubt that he advanced
them; and he is thus entitled to the distinction of being the first
known Assyrian conqueror.

With Tiglathi-Nin, the son and successor of Shalmaneser I., the spirit
of conquest displayed itself in a more signal and striking manner. The
probable date of this monarch has already been shown to synchronize
closely with the time assigned by Berosus to the connnencement of his
sixth Babylonian dynasty, and by Herodotus to the beginning of his
Assyrian Empire. Now Tiglathi-Nin appears in the Inscriptions as the
prince who first aspired to transfer to Assyria the supremacy hitherto
exercised, or at any rate claimed, by Babylon. He made war upon the
southern kingdom, and with such success that he felt himself entitled to
claim its conquuest, and to inscribe upon his signet-seal the proud
title of "Conqueror of Babylonia." This signet-seal, left by him (as is
probable) at Babylon, and recovered about six hundred years later by
Sennacherib, shows to us that he reigned for some time in person at the
southern capital, where it would seem that he afterwards established an
Assyrian dynasty--a branch perhaps of his own family. This is probably
the exact event of which Berosus spoke as occurring 526 years before
Phul or Pul, and which Herodotus regarded as marking the commencement of
the Assyrian "Empire." We must not, however, suppose that Babylonia was
from this time really subject continuously to the Court of Nineveh. The
subjection may have been maintained for a little less than a century;
but about that time we find evidence that the yoke of Assyria had been
shaken off, and that the Babylonian monarchs, who have Semitic names,
and are probably Assyrians by descent, had become hostile to the
Ninevite kings, and were engaged in frequent wars with them. No real
permanent subjection of the Lower country to the Upper was effected till
the time of Sargon; and even under the Sargonid dynasty revolts were
frequent; nor were the Babylonians reconciled to the Assyrian sway till
Esarhaddon united the two Crowns in his own person, and reigned
alternately at the two capitals. Still, it is probable that, from the
time of Tiglathi-Nin, the Upper country was recognized as the superior
of the two: it had shown its might by a conquest and the imposition of a
dynasty--proofs of power which were far from counterbalanced by a few
retaliatory raids adventured upon under favorable circumstances by the
Babylonian princes. Its influence was therefore felt, even while its
yoke was refused; and the Semitizing of the Chaldaeans, commenced under
Tiglathi-Nin, continued during the whole time of Assyrian preponderance;
no effectual Turanian reaction ever set in; the Babylonian rulers,
whether submissive to Assyria or engaged in hostilities against her,
have equally Semitic names; and it does not appear that any effort was
at any time made to recover to the Turanian element of the population
its early supremacy.

The line of direct descent, which has been traced in uninterrupted
succession through eight monarchs, beginning with Asshur-bel-nisi-su,
here terminates; and an interval occurs which can only be roughly
estimated as probably not exceeding fifty years. Another consecutive
series of eight kings follows, known to us chiefly through the famous
Tiglath-Pileser cylinder (which gives the succession of five of them),
but completed from the combined evidence of several other documents.
These monarchs, it is probable, reigned from about B.C. 1230 to B C.

Bel-kudur-uzur, the first monarch of this second series, is known to us
wholly through his unfortunate war with the contemporary king of
Babylon. It seems that the Semitic line of kings, which the Assyrians
had established in Babylon, was not content to remain very long in a
subject position. In the time of Bel-kudur-uzur, Vul-baladan, the
Babylonian vassal monarch, revolted; and a war followed between him and
his Assyrian suzerain, which terminated in the defeat and death of the
latter, who fell in a great battle, about B.C. 1210.

Nin-pala-zira succeeded. It is uncertain whether he was any relation to
his predecessor, but clear that he avenged him. He is called "the king
who organized the country of Assyria, and established the troops of
Assyria in authority." It appears that shortly after his accession,
Vul-baladan of Babylon, elated by his previous successes, made an
expedition against the Assyrian capital, and a battle was fought under
the walls of Asshur in which Nin-pala-zira was completely successful.
The Babylonians fled, and left Assyria in peace during the remainder of
the reign of this monarch.

Asshur-dayan, the third king of the series, had a long and prosperous
reign. He made a successful inroad into Babylonia, and returned into his
own land with a rich and valuable booty. He likewise took down the
temple which Shamas-Vul, the son of Ismi-Dagon, had erected to the gods
Asshur and Vul at Asshur, the Assyrian capital, because it was in a
ruinous condition, and required to be destroyed or rebuilt. Asshur-dayan
seems to have shrunk from the task of restoring so great a work, and
therefore demolished the structure which was not rebuilt for the space
of sixty years from its demolition. He was succeeded upon the throne by
his son Mutaggil-Nebo.

Mutaggil-Nebo reigned probably from about B.C. 1170 to B.C. 1150. We are
informed that "Asshur, the great Lord, aided him according to the wishes
of his heart, and established him in strength in the government of
Assyria." Perhaps these expressions allude to internal troubles at the
commencement of his reign, over which he was so fortunate as to triumph.
We have no further particulars of this monarch.

Asshur-ris-ilim, the fourth king of the series, the son and successor of
Mutaggil-Nebo, whose reign may be placed between B.C. 1150 and B.C.
1130, is a monarch of greater pretensions than most of his predecessors.
In his son's Inscription he is called "the powerful king, the subduer of
rebellious countries, he who has reduced all the accursed." These
expressions are so broad, that we must conclude from them, not merely
that Asshur-ris-ilim, unlike the previous kings of the line, engaged in
foreign wars, but that his expeditions had a great success, and paved
the way for the extensive conquests of his son and successor,
Tiglath-Pileser. Probably he turned his arms in various directions, like
that monarch. Certainly he carried them south-wards into Babylonia,
where, as we learn from the synchronistic tablet of Babylonian and
Assyrian history, he was engaged for some time in a war with
Nebuchadnezzar (_Nabuk-udor-uzur_), the first known king of that name.
It has been conjectured that he likewise carried them into Southern
Syria and Palestine, and that, in fact, he is the monarch designated in
the book of Judges by the name of Chushan-ris-athaim, who is called "the
king of Mesopotamia (Aram-Naharaim)," and is said to have exercised
dominion over the Israelites for eight years. This identification,
however, is too uncertain to be assumed without further proof. The
probable date of Chushan-ris-athaim is some two (or three) centuries
earlier; and his title, "king of Mesopotamia," is one which is not
elsewhere applied to Assyrians monarchs.

A few details have come clown to us with respect to the Babylonian war
of Asshur-ris-ilim. It appears that Nebuchadnezzar was the assailant. He
began the war by a march up the Diyalch and an advance on Assyria along
the outlying Zegros hills, the route afterwards taken by the great
Persian road described by Herodotus. Asshur-ris-ilim went out to meet
him in person, engaged him in the mountain region, and repulsed his
attack. Upon this the Babylonian monarch retired, and after an interval;
the duration of which is unknown, advanced a second time against
Assyria, but took now the direct line across the plain. Asshur-ris-ilim
on this occasion was content to employ a general against the invader. He
"sent" his chariots and his soldiers towards his southern border, and
was again successful, gaining a second victory over his antagonist, who
fled away, leaving in his hands forty chariots and a banner.

Tiglath-Pileser I., who succeeded Asshur-ris-ilim about B.C. 1130, is
the first Assyrian monarch of whose history we possess copious details
which can be set forth at some length. This is owing to the preservation
and recovery of a lengthy document belonging to his reign in which are
recorded the events of his first five years. As this document is the
chief evidence we possess of the condition of Assyria, the character and
tone of thought of the king, and indeed of the general state of the
Eastern world, at the period in question--which synchronizes certainly
with some portion of the dominion of the Judges over Israel, and
probably with the early conquests of the Dorians in Greece--it is
thought advisable to give in this place such an account of it, and such
a number of extracts as shall enable the reader to form his own judgment
on these several points.

The document opens with an enumeration and glorification of the "great
gods" who "rule over heaven and earth," and are "the guardians of the
kingdom of Tiglath-Pileser." These are "Asshur, the great Lord, ruling
supreme over the gods; Bel, the lord, father of the gods, lord of the
world; Sin, the leader(?) the lord of empire(?); Shamus, the establisher
of heaven and earth; Vul, he who causes the tempest to rage over hostile
lands; Nin, the champion who subdues evil spirits and enemies; and
Ishtar, the source of the gods, the queen of victory, she who arranges
battles." These deities, who (it is declared) have placed
Tiglath-Pileser upon the throne, have "made him firm, have confided to
him the supreme crown, have appointed him in might to the sovereignty of
the people of Bel, and have granted him preeminence, exaltation, and
warlike power," are invoked to make the "duration of his empire continue
forever to his royal posterity, lasting as the great temple of

In the next section the king glorifies himself, enumerating his royal
titles as follows: "Tiglath-Pileser, the powerful king, king of the
people of various tongues; king of the four regions; king of all kings;
lord of lords; the supreme (?); monarch of monarchs; the illustrious
chief, who, under the auspices of the Sun-god, being armed with the
sceptre and girt with the girdle of power over mankind, rules over all
the people of Bel; the mighty prince, whose praise is blazoned forth
among the kings; the exalted sovereign, whose servants Asshur has
appointed to the government of the four regions, and whose name he has
made celebrated to posterity; the conqueror of many plains and mountains
of the Upper and Lower country; the victorious hero, the terror of whose
mane has overwhelmed all regions; the bright constellation who, as he
wished, has warred against foreign countries, and under the auspices of
Bel--there being no equal to him--has subdued the enemies of Asshur."

The royal historian, after this introduction, proceeds to narrate his
actions first in general terms declaring that he has subdued all the
lands and the peoples round about, and then proceeding to particularize
the various campaigns which he had conducted during the first five years
of his reign. The earliest of these was against the Muskai, or
Moschians, who are probably identical with the Meshech of Holy
Scripture--a people governed (it is said) by five kings, and inhabiting
the countries of Alzi and Purukhuz, parts (apparently) of Taurus or
Niphates. These Moschians are said to have neglected for fifty years to
pay the tribute due from them to the Assyrians, from which it would
appear that they had revolted during the reign of Asshur-dayan, having
previously been subject to Assyria. At this time, with a force amounting
to 20,000 men, they had invaded the neighboring district of Qummukh
(Commagene), an Assyrian dependency, and had made themselves masters of
it. Tiglath-Pileser attacked them in this newly-conquered country, and
completely defeated their army. He then reduced Commagene, despite the
assistance which the inhabitants received from some of their neighbors.
He burnt the cities, plundered the temples, ravaged the open country,
and carried off, either in the shape of plunder or of tribute, vast
quantities of cattle and treasure.

The character of the warfare is indicated by such a passage as the

"The country of Kasiyara, a difficult region, I passed through. With
their 20,000 men and their five kings, in the country of Qummukh I
engaged. I defeated them. The ranks of their warriors in fighting the
battle were beaten down as if by the tempest. Their carcasses covered
the valleys and the tops of the mountains, I cut off their heads. Of the
battlements of their cities I made heaps, like mounds of earth (?).
Their moveables, their wealth, and their valuables I plundered to a
countless amount. Six thousand of their common soldiers, who fled before
my servants, and accepted my yoke, I took and gave over to the men of my
own territory as slaves."

The second campaign was partly in the same region and with the same
people. The Moschians, who were still loth to pay tribute, were again
attacked and reduced. Commagene was completely overrun, and the
territory was attached to the Assyrian empire. The neighboring tribes
were assailed in their fastnesses, their cities burnt, and their
territories ravaged. At the same time war was made upon several other
peoples or nations. Among these the most remarkable are the Khatti
(Hittites), two of whose tribes, the Kaskiaits and Urumians, had
committed an aggression on the Assyrian territory: for this they were
chastised by an invasion which they did not venture to resist, by the
plundering of their valuables, and the carrying off of 120 of their
chariots. In another direction the Lower Zab was crossed, and the
Assyrian arms were carried into the mountain region of Zagros, where
certain strongholds were reduced and a good deal of treasure taken.

The third campaign was against the numerous tribes of the Nairi, who
seem to have dwelt at this time partly to the east of the Euphrates, but
partly also in the mountain country west of the stream from Smmeisat to
the Gulf of Iskenderun. These tribes, it is said, had never previously
made their submission to the Assyrians. They were governed by a number
of petty chiefs or "kings," of whom no fewer than twenty-three are
particularized. The tribes east of the Euphrates seem to have been
reduced with little resistance, while those who dwelt west of the river,
on the contrary, collected their troops together, gave battle to the
invaders, and made a prolonged and desperate defence. All, however, was
in vain. The Assyrian monarch gained a great victory, taking 120
chariots, and then pursued the vanquished Nairi and their allies as far
as "the Upper Sea,"--i.e., the Mediterranean. The usual ravage and
destruction followed, with the peculiarity that the lives of the "kings"
were spared, and that the country was put to a moderate tribute, viz.,
1200 horses and 200 head of cattle.

In the fourth campaign the Aramaeans or Syrians were attacked by the
ambitious monarch. They occupied at this time the valley of the
Euphrates, from the borders of the Tsukhi, or Shuhites, who held the
river from about Anah to Hit, as high up as Carchemish, the frontier
town and chief stronghold of the Khatti or Hittites. Carchemish was not,
as has commonly been supposed, Circesium, at the junction of the Khabour
with the Euphrates, but was considerably higher up the stream, certainly
near to, perhaps on the very site of, the later city of Mabog or
Hierapolis. Thus the Aramaeans had a territory of no great width, but
230 miles long between its north-western and its south-eastern
extremities. Tiglath-Pileser smote this region, as he tells us, "at one
blow." First attacking and plundering the eastern or left bank of the
river, he then crossed the stream in boats covered with skins, took and
burned six cities on the right bank, and returned in safety with an
immense plunder.

The fifth and last campaign was against the country of Musr or Muzr, by
which some Orientalists have understood Lower Egypt. This, however,
appears to be a mistake. The Assyrian Inscriptions designate two
countries by the name of Musr or Muzr, one of them being Egypt, and the
other a portion of Upper Kurdistan. The expedition of Tiglath-Pileser I.,
was against the eastern Musr, a highly mountainous country, consisting
(apparently) of the outlying ranges of Zagros between the greater Zab
and the Eastern Khabour. Notwithstanding its natural strength and the
resistance of the inhabitants, this country was completely overrun in an
incredibly short space. The armies which defended it were defeated, the
cities burnt, the strongholds taken. Arin, the capital, submitted, and
was spared, after which a set tribute was imposed on the entire region,
the amount of which is not mentioned. The Assyrian arms were then turned
against a neighboring district, the country of the Comani. The Comani,
though Assyrian subjects, had lent assistance to the people of Musr, and
it was to punish this insolence that Tiglath-Pileser resolved to invade
their territory. Having defeated their main army, consisting of 20,000
men, he proceeded to the attack of the various castles and towns, some
of which were stormed, while others surrendered at discretion. In both
eases alike the fortifications were broken down and destroyed, the
cities which surrendered being spared, while those taken by storm were
burnt with fire. Ere long the whole of the "far-spreading country of the
Comani" was reduced to subjection, and a tribute was imposed exceeding
that which had previously been required from the people.

After this account of the fifth campaign, the whole result of the wars
is thus briefly summed up:--"There fell into my hands altogether,
between the commencement of my reign and my fifth year, forty-two
countries with their kings, from the banks of the river Zab to the banks
of the river Euphrates, the country of the Rhatti, and the upper ocean
of the setting sun. I brought them under one government; I took hostages
from them; and I imposed on them tribute and offerings."

From describing his military achievements, the monarch turns to an
account of his exploits in the chase. In the country of the Hittites he
boasts that he had slain "four wild bulls, strong and fierce," with his
arrows; while in the neighborhood of Harran, on the banks of the river
Khabour, he had killed ten large wild buffaloes (?), and taken four
alive. These captured animals he had carried with him on his return to
Asshur, his capital city, together with the horns and skins of the slain
beasts. The lions which he had destroyed in his various journeys he
estimates at 920. All these successes he ascribes to the powerful
protection of Nin and Nergal.

The royal historiographer proceeds, after this, to give an account of
his domestic administration, of the buildings which he had erected, and
the various improvements which he had introduced. Among the former he
mentions temples to Ishtar. Martu, Bel, Il or Ra, and the presiding
deities of the city of Asshur, palaces for his own use, and castles for
the protection of his territory. Among the latter he enumerates the
construction of works of irrigation, the introduction into Assyria of
foreign cattle and of numerous beasts of chase, the naturalization of
foreign vegetable products, the multiplication of chariots, the
extension of the territory, and the augmentation of the population of
the country.

A more particular account is then given of the restoration by the
monarch of two very ancient and venerable temples in the great city of
Asshur. This account is preceded by a formal statement of the
particulars of the monarch's descent from Ninpala-zira, the king who
seems to be regarded as the founder of the dynasty--which breaks the
thread of the narrative somewhat strangely and awkwardly. Perhaps the
occasion of its introduction was, in the mind of the writer, the
necessary mention, in connection with one of the two temples, of
Asshur-dayan, the great-grandfather of the monarch. It appears that in
the reign of Asshur-dayan, this temple, which, having stood for 641
years, was in a very ruinous condition, had been taken down, while no
fresh building had been raised in its room. The site remained vacant for
sixty years, till Tiglath-Pileser, having lately ascended the throne,
determined to erect on the spot a new temple to the old gods, who were
Anu and Vul, probably the tutelary deities of the city. His own account
of the circumstances of the building and dedication is as follows:--

"In the beginning of my reign, Anu and Vul, the great gods, my lords,
guardians of my steps, gave me a command to repair this their shrine. So
I made bricks; I levelled the earth; I took its dimensions (?); I laid
down its foundations upon a mass of strong rock. This place, throughout
its whole extent, I paved with bricks in set order (?); fifty feet deep
I prepared the ground; and upon this substructure I laid the lower
foundations of the temple of Anu and Vul. From its foundations to its
roof I built it up better than it was before. I also built two lofty
towers (?) in honor of their noble godships, and the holy place, a
spacious hall, I consecrated for the convenience of their worshippers,
and to accommodate their votaries, who were numerous as the stars of
heaven. I repaired, and built, and completed my work. Outside the temple
I fashioned everything with the same care as inside. The mound of earth
on which it was built I enlarged like the firmament of the rising stars
(?), and I beautified the entire building. Its towers I raised up to
heaven, and its roofs I built entirely of brick. An inviolable shrine(?)
for their noble godships I laid down near at hand. Anu and Vul, the
great gods, I glorified inside the shrine. I set them up in their
honored purity, and the hearts of their noble godships I delighted."

The other restoration mentioned is that of a temple to Vul only, which,
like that to Anu and Vul conjointly, had been originally built by
Shamas-Vul, the son of Ismi-Dagon. This building had likewise fallen
into decay, but had not been taken down like the other. Tiglath-Pileser
states that he "levelled its site," and then rebuilt it "from its
foundations to its roofs." enlarging it beyond its former limits, and
adorning it. Inside of it he "sacrificed precious victims to his lord,
Vul." He also deposited in the temple a number of rare stones or
marbles, which he had obtained in the country of the Nairi in the course
of his expeditions.

The inscription then terminates with the following long invocation:--

"Since a holy place, a noble hall, I have thus consecrated for the use
of the Great Gods, my lords Anu and Vul, and have laid down an adytum
for their special worship, and have finished it successfully, and have
delighted the hearts of their noble godships, may Anu and Vul preserve
me in power! May they support the men of my government! May they
establish the authority of my officers! May they bring the rain, the joy
of the year, on the cultivated land and the desert, during my time! In
war and in battle may they preserve me victorious! Many foreign
countries, turbulent nations, and hostile kings I have reduced under my
yoke! to my children and my descendants, may they keep them in firm
allegiance! I will lead my steps" (or, "may they establish my feet"),
"firm as the mountains, to the last days, before Asshur and their noble

"The list of my victories and the catalogue of my triumphs over
foreigners hostile to Asshur, which Anu and Vul have granted to my arms,
I have inscribed on my tablets and cylinders, and I have placed, [to
remain] to the last days, in the temple of my lords, Ann and Vul. And I
have made clean (?) the tablets of Shamas-Vul, my ancestor; I have made
sacrifices, and sacrificed victims before them, and have set them up in
their places. In after times, and in the latter days..., if the temple
of the Great Gods, my lords Anu and Vul, and these shrines should become
old and fall into decay, may the Prince who comes after me repair the
ruins! May he raise altars and sacrifice victims before my tablets and
cylinders, and may he set them up again in their places, and may he
inscribe his name on them together with my name! As Anu and Vul, the
Great Gods, have ordained, may he worship honestly with a good heart and
full trust!

"Whoever shall abrade or injure my tablets and cylinders, or shall
moisten them with water, or scorch them with fire, or expose them to the
air, or in the holy place of God shall assign them a place where they
cannot be seen or understood, or shall erase the writing and inscribe
his own name, or shall divide the sculptures (?) and break them off from
my tablets, may Anu and Vul, the Great Gods, my lords, consign his name
to perdition! May they curse him with an irrevocable curse! May they
cause his sovereignty to perish! May they pluck out the stability of the
throne of his empire! Let not his offspring survive him in the kingdom!
Let his servants be broken! Let his troops be defeated! Let him fly
vanquished before his enemies! May Vul in his fury tear up the produce
of his land! May a scarcity of food and of the necessaries of life
afflict his country! For one day may he not be called happy! May his
name and his race perish!"

The document is then dated--"In the month Kuzalla (Chisleu), on the 29th
day, in the year presided over by Inailiya-pallik, the Rabbi-Turi."

Perhaps the most striking feature of this inscription, when it is
compared with other historical documents of the same kind belonging to
other ages and nations, is its intensely religious character. The long
and solemn invocation of the Great Gods with which it opens, the
distinct ascription to their assistance and guardianship of the whole
series of royal successes, whether in war or in the chase; the pervading
idea that the wars were undertaken for the chastisement of the enemies
of Asshur, and that their result was the establishment in an
ever-widening circle of the worship of Asshur; the careful account which
is given of the erection and renovation of temples, and the dedication
of offerings; and the striking final prayer--all these are so many
proofs of the prominent place which religion held in the thoughts of the
king who set up the inscription, and may fairly be accepted as
indications of the general tone and temper of his people. It is evident
that we have here displayed to us, not a decent lip-service, not a
conventional piety, but a real, hearty earnest religious faith--a faith
bordering on fanaticism--a spirit akin to that with which the Jews were
possessed in their warfare with the nations of Canaan, or which the
soldiers of Mahomet breathed forth when they fleshed their maiden swords
upon the infidels. The king glorifies himself much; but he glorifies the
gods more. He fights, in part, for his own credit, and for the extension
of his territory; but he fights also for the honor of the gods, whom the
surrounding nations reject, and for the diffusion of their worship far
and wide throughout all known regions. His wars are religious wars, at
least as much as wars of conquest; his buildings, or, at any rate, those
on whose construction he dwells with most complacency, are religious
buildings; the whole tone of his mind is deeply and sincerely religious;
besides formal acknowledgments, he is continually letting drop little
expressions which show that his gods are "in all his thoughts," and
represent to him real powers governing and directing all the various
circumstances of human life. The religious spirit displayed is, as might
have been expected, in the highest degree exclusive and intolerant; but
it is earnest, constant, and all-pervading.

In the next place, we cannot fail to be struck with the energetic
character of the monarch, so different from the temper which Ctesias
ascribes, in the broadest and most sweeping terms, to all the successors
of Ninus. Within the first five years of his reign the indefatigable
prince conducts in person expeditions into almost every country upon his
borders; attacks and reduces six important nations, besides numerous
petty tribes; receiving the submission of forty-two kings; traversing
the most difficult mountain regions; defeating armies, besieging towns,
destroying forts and strongholds, ravaging territories; never allowing
himself a moment of repose; when he is not engaged in military
operations, devoting himself to the chase, contending with the wild bull
and the lion, proving himself (like the first Mesopotamian king) in very
deed "a mighty hunter," since he counts his victims by hundreds; and all
the while having regard also to the material welfare of his country,
adorning it with buildings, enriching it with the products of other
lands, both animal and vegetable, fertilizing it by means of works of
irrigation, and in every way "improving the condition of the people, and
obtaining for them abundance and security."

With respect to the general condition of Assyria, it may be noted, in
the first place, that the capital is still Asshur, and that no mention
is made of any other native city. The king calls himself "king of the
four regions," which would seem to imply a division of the territory
into districts, like that which certainly obtained in later times. The
mention of "four" districts is curious, since the same number was from
the first affected by the Chaldaeans, while we have also evidence that,
at least after the time of Sargon, there was a pre-eminence of four
great cities in Assyria. The limits of the territory at the time of the
Inscription are not very dearly marked; but they do not seem to extend
beyond the outer ranges of Zagros on the east, Niphates on the north,
and the Euphrates upon the west. The southern boundary at the time was
probably the commencement of the alluvium; but this cannot be gathered
from the Inscription, which contains no notice of any expedition in the
direction of Babylonia. The internal condition of Assyria is evidently
flourishing. Wealth flows in from the plunder of the neighboring
countries; labor is cheapened by the introduction of enslaved captives;
irrigation is cared for; new fruits and animals are introduced;
fortifications are repaired, palaces renovated, and temples beautified
or rebuilt.

The countries adjoining upon Assyria at the west, the north, and the
east, in which are carried on the wars of the period, present
indications of great political weakness. They are divided up among a
vast number of peoples, nations, and tribes, whereof the most powerful
is only able to bring into the field a force of 20,000 men. The peoples
and nations possess but little unity. Each consists of various separate
communities, ruled by their own kings, who in war unite their troops
against the common enemy; but are so jealous of each other, that they do
not seem even to appoint a generalissimo. On the Euphrates, between Hit
and Carchemish, are, first, the Tsukhi or Shuhites, of whom no
particulars are given; and, next, the Aramaeans or Syrians, who occupy
both banks of the river, and possess a number of cities, no one of which
is of much strength. Above the Aramaeans are the Khatti or Hittites,
whose chief city, Carchemish, is an important place; they are divided
into tribes, and, like the Aramaeans, occupy both banks of the great
stream. North and north-west of their country, probably beyond the
mountain-range of Amanus, are the Muskai (Moschi), an aggressive people,
who were seeking to extend their territory eastward into the land of the
Qummukh or people of Commagene. These Qummukh hold the mountain country
on both sides of the Upper Tigris, and have a number of strongholds,
chiefly on the right bank. To the east they adjoin on the Kirkhi, who
must have inhabited the skirts of Niphates, while to the south they
touch the Nairi, who stretch from Lake Van, along the line of the
Tigris, to the tract known as Commagene to the Romans. The Nairi have,
at the least, twenty-three kings, each of whom governs his own tribe
or city. South of the more eastern Nairi is the country of Muzra
mountain tract well peopled and full of castles, probably the region
about Amadiyeh and Rowandiz. Adjoining Muzr to the east or north-east,
are the __Quwanu or Comani, who are among the most powerful of Assyria's
neighbors, being able, like the Moschi, to bring into the field an army
of 20,000 men. At this time they are close allies of the people of
Muzr--finally, across the lower Zab, on the skirts of Zagros, are
various petty tribes of small account, who offer but little resistance
to the arms of the invader.

Such was the position of Assyria among her neighbors in the latter part
of the twelfth century before Christ. She was a compact and powerful
kingdom, centralized under a single monarch, and with a single great
capital, in the midst of wild tribes which clung to a separate
independence, each in its own valley or village. At the approach of a
great danger, these tribes might consent to coalesce and to form
alliances, or even confederations; but the federal tie, never one of
much tenacity, and rarely capable of holding its ground in the presence
of monarchic vigor, was here especially weak. After one defeat of their
joint forces by the Assyrian troops, the confederates commonly
dispersed, each flying to the defence of his own city or territory, with
a short-sighted selfishness which deserved and ensured defeat. In one
direction only was Assyria confronted by a rival state pomsessing a
power and organization in character not unlike her own, though scarcely
of equal strength. On her southern frontier, in the broad flat plain
intervening between the Mesopotamian upland and the sea--the kingdom of
Babylon was still existing; its Semitic kings, though originally
established upon the throne by Assyrian influence, had dissolved all
connection with their old protectors, and asserted their thorough
independence. Here, then, was a considerable state, as much centralized
as Assyria herself, and not greatly inferior either in extent of
territory or in population, existing side by side with her, and
constituting a species of check, whereby something like a balance of
power was still maintained in Western Asia, and Assyria: was prevented
from feeling herself the absolute mistress of the East, and the
uncontrolled arbitress of the world's destinies.

Besides the great cylinder inscription of Tiglath-Pileser there exist
five more years of his annals in fragments, from which we learn that he
continued his aggressive expeditious during this space, chiefly towards
the north west, subduing the Lulumi in Northern Syria, attacking and
taking Carchemish, and pursuing the inhabitants across the Euphrates in

No mention is made during this time of any collision between Assyria and
her great rival. Babylon. The result of the wars waged by
Asshur-ris-ilim against Nebuchadnezzar I., had, apparently, been to
produce in the belligerents a feeling of mutual respect; and
Tiglath-Pileser, in his earlier years, neither trespassed on the
Babylonian territory in his aggressive raids, nor found himself called
upon to meet and repel any invasion of his own dominions by his southern
neighbors. Before the close of his reign, however, active hostilities
broke out between the two powers. Either provoked by some border ravage
or actuated simply by lust of conquest, Tiglath-Pileser marched his
troops into Babylonia. For two consecutive years he wasted with fire and
sword the "upper" or northern provinces, taking the cities of
Kurri-Galzu--now Akkerkuf--Sippara of the Sun, and Sippara of Anunit
(the Sepharvaim or "two Sipparas" of the Hebrews), and Hupa or Opis, on
the Tigris; and finally capturing Babylon itself, which, strong as it
was, proved unable to resist the invader. On his return be passed up the
valley of the Euphrates, and took several cities from the Tsukhi. But
here, it would seem that he suffered a reverse. Merodach-iddiu-akhi, his
opponent, if he did not actually defeat his army, must, at any rate,
have greatly harassed it on its retreat; for he captured an important
part of its baggage. Indulging a superstition common in ancient times,
Tiglath-Pileser had carried with him in his expedition certain images of
gods, whose presence would, it was thought, secure victory to his arms.
Merodach-iddiu akhi obtained possession of these idols, and succeeded in
carrying them off to Babylon, where they were preserved for more than
400 years, and considered as mementoes of victory.

The latter days of this great Assyrian prince were thus, unhappily,
clouded by disaster. Neither he, nor his descendants, nor any Assyrian
monarch for four centuries succeeded in recovering the lost idols, and
replacing them in the shrines from which they were taken. A hostile and
jealous spirit appears henceforth in the relations between Assyria and
Babylon; we find no more intermarriages of the one royal house with the
other; wars are frequent--almost constant--nearly every Assyrian
monarch, whose history is known to us in any detail, conducting at least
one expedition into Babylonia.

A work still remains, belonging to the reign of this king, from which it
appears that the peculiar character of Assyrian mimetic art was already
fixed in his time, the style of representation being exactly such as
prevailed at the most flourishing period, and the workmanship,
apparently, not very inferior. In a cavern from which the Tsupnat river
or eastern branch of the Tigris rises, close to a village called
Korkhar, and about fifty or sixty miles north of Drarbekr, is a
bas-relief sculptured on the natural rock, which has been smoothed for
the purpose, consisting of a figure of the king in his sacerdotal dress
with the right arm extended and the left hand grasping the sacrificial
mace, accompanied by an inscription which is read as follows:--"By the
grace of Asshur, Shamas, and Vul, the Great Gods, I., Tiglath-Pileser,
king of Assyria, son of Asshurris-ilim, king of Assyria, who was the son
of Mutaggil-Nebo, king of Assyria, marching from the great sea of
Akhiri' (the Mediterranean) to the sea of Nairi" (Lake of Van) "for the
third time have invaded the country of Nairi." [PLATE CXLIV Fig. 3.]

The fact of his having warred in Lower Mesopotamia is almost the whole
that is known of Tiglath-Pileser's son and successor, Asshur-bil-kala. A
contest in which he was engaged with the Babylonian prince,
Merodach-shapik-ziri (who seems to have been the successor of
Merodach-iddin-akhi), is recorded on the famous synchronistic tablet, in
conjunction with the Babylonian wars of his father and grandfather; but
the tablet is so injured in this place that no particulars can be
gathered from it. From a monument of Asshur-bil-kala's own time--one of
the earliest Assyrian sculptures that has cone down to us--we may
perhaps further conclude that he inherited something of the religious
spirit of his father, and gave a portion of his attention to the
adornment of temples, and the setting up of images.

The probable date of the reign of Asshur-bil-kala is about B.C.
1110-1090. He appears to have been succeeded on the throne by his
younger brother, Shamas-Vul, of whom nothing is known, but that he
built, or repaired, a temple at Nineveh. His reign probably occupied the
interval between B.. 1090 and 1070. He would thus seem to have been
contemporary with _Smendes_ in Egypt and with Samuel or Saul in Israel.
So apparently insignificant an event as the establishment of a kingdom
in Palestine was not likely to disturb the thoughts, even if it came to
the knowledge, of an Assyrian monarch. Shamas-Vul would no doubt have
regarded with utter contempt the petty sovereign of so small a territory
as Palestine, and would have looked upon the new kingdom as scarcely
more worthy of his notice than any other of the ten thousand little
principalities which lay on or near his borders. Could he, however, have
possessed for a few moments the prophetic foresight vouchsafed some
centuries earlier to one who may almost be called his countryman, he
would have been astonished to recognize in the humble kingdom just
lifting its head in the far West, and struggling to hold its own against
Philistine cruelty and oppression, a power which in little more than
fifty years would stand forth before the world as the equal, if not the
superior, of his own state. The imperial splendor of the kingdom of
David and Solomon did, in fact, eclipse for awhile the more ancient
glories of Assyria. It is a notable circumstance that, exactly at the
time when a great and powerful monarchy grew up in the tract between
Egypt and the Euphrates, Assyria passed under a cloud. The history of
the country is almost a blank for two centuries between the reigns of
Shamas-Vul and the second Tiglathi-Nin, whose accession is fixed by the
Assyrian Canon to B.C. 889. During more than three-fourths of this time,
from about B.C. 1070 to B.C. 930, the very names of the monarchs are
almost wholly unknown to us. It seems as if there was not room in
Western Asia for two first-class monarchies to exist and flourish at the
same time; and so, although there was no contention, or even contact,
between the two empires of Judaea and Assyria, yet the rise of the one
to greatness could only take place under the condition of a coincident
weakness of the other.

It is very remarkable that exactly in this interval of darkness, when
Assyria would seem, from the failure both of buildings and records, to
have been especially and exceptionally weak, occurs the first appearance
of her having extended her influence beyond Syria into the great and
ancient monarchy of Egypt. In the twenty-second Egyptian dynasty, which
began with Sheshonk I., or Shishak, the contemporary of Solomon, about
B.C. 900, Assyrian names appear for the first time in the Egyptian
dynastic lists. It has been supposed from this circumstance that the
entire twenty-second dynasty, together with that which succeeded it, was
Assyrian; but the condition of Assyria at the time renders such a
hypothesis most improbable. The true explanation would seem to be that
the Egyptian kings of this period sometimes married. Assyrian wives, who
naturally gave Assyrian names to some of their children. These wives
were perhaps members of the Assyrian royal family; or perhaps they were
the daughters of the Assyrian nobles who from time to time were
appointed as viceroys of the towns and small states which the Ninevite
monarchs conquered on the skirts of their empire. Either of these
suppositions is more probable than the establishment in Egypt of a
dynasty really Assyrian at a time of extraordinary weakness and

When at the close of this long period of obscurity, Assyria once more
comes into sight, we have at first only a dim and indistinct view of her
through the mists which still enfold and shroud her form. We observe
that her capital is still fixed at Kileh-Sherghat, where a new series of
kings, bearing names which, for the most part, resemble those of the
earlier period, are found employing themselves in the repair and
enlargement of public buildings, in connection with which they obtain
honorable mention in an inscription of a later monarch. Asshur-dayan,
the first monarch of this group, probably ascended the throne about B.C.
930, shortly after the separation of the two kingdoms of Israel and
Judah. He appears to have reigned from about B.C. 930 to B.C. 911. He
was succeeded in B.C. 911 by his son Vul-lush II., who held the throne
from B.C. 911 to B.C. 889. Nothing is known at present of the history of
these two monarchs. No historical inscriptions belonging to their reigns
have been recovered; no exploits are recorded of them in the
inscriptions of later sovereigns. They stand up before us the mere
"shadows of mighty names"--proofs of the, uncertainty of posthumous
fame, which is almost as often the award of chance as the deserved
recompense of superior merit.

Of Tiglathi-Nin, the second monarch of the name, and the third king of
the group which we are considering, one important historical notice,
contained in an inscription of his son, has come down to us. In the
annals of the great Asshur-izirpal inscribed on the Nimrud monolith,
that prince, while commemorating his war-like exploits, informs us that
he set up his sculptures at the sources of the Tsupnat river alongside
of sculptures previously set up by his ancestors Tiglath-Pileser and
Tiglathi-Nin. That Tiglathi-Nin should have made so distant an
expedition is the more remarkable from the brevity of his reign, which
only lasted for six years. According to the Canon, he ascended the
throne in the year B.C. 889; he was succeeded in B.C. 883 by his son

With Asshur-izir-pal commences one of the most flourishing periods of
the Empire. During the twenty-five years of his active and laborious
reign. Assyria enlarged her bounds and increased her influence in almost
every direction, while, at the same time, she advanced rapidly in wealth
and in the arts; in the latter respect leaping suddenly to an eminence
which (so far as we know) had not previously been reached by human
genius. The size and magnificence of Asshur-izir-pal's buildings, the
artistic excellence of their ornamentation, the pomp and splendor which
they set before us as familiar to the king who raised them, the skill in
various useful arts which they display or imply, have excited the
admiration of Europe, which has seen with astonishment that many of its
inventions were anticipated, and that its luxury was almost equalled, by
an Asiatic people nine centuries before the Christian era. It will be
our pleasing task at this point of the history, after briefly sketching
Asshur-izir-pal's wars, to give such an account of the great works which
he constructed as will convey to the reader at least a general idea of
the civilization and refinement of the Assyrians at the period to which
we are now come.

Asshur-izir-pal's first campaign was in north-western Kurdistan and in
the adjoining parts of Armenia. It does not present any very remarkable
features, though he claims to have penetrated to a region "never
approached by the kings his fathers." His enemies are the Numi or Elami
(i.e., the mountaineers) and the Kirkhi, who seem to have left their
name in the modern Kurkh. Neither people appears to have been able to
make much head against him: no battle was fought: the natives merely
sought to defend their fortified places; but these were mostly taken and
destroyed by the invader. One chief, who was made prisoner, received
very barbarous treatment; he was carried to Arbela, and there flayed and
hung up upon the town wall.

The second expedition of Asshur-izir-pal, which took place in the same
year as his first, was directed against the regions to the west and
north-west of Assyria. Traversing the country of Qummukh, and receiving
its tribute, as well as that of Serki and Sidikan (Arban), he advanced
against the Laki, who seem to have been at this time the chief people of
Central Mesopotamia, extending from the vicinity of Hatra as far as, or
even beyond, the middle Euphrates. Here the people of a city called
Assura had rebelled, murdered their governor, and called in a foreigner
to rule over them. Asshur-izir-pal marched hastily against the rebels,
who submitted at his approach, delivering up to his mercy both their
city and their new king. The latter he bound with fetters and carried
with him to Nineveh; the former he treated with almost unexampled
severity. Having first plundered the whole place, he gave up the houses
of the chief men to his own officers, established an Assyrian governor
in the palace, and then, selecting from the inhabitants the most guilty,
he crucified some, burnt others, and punished the remainder by cutting
off their ears or their noses. We can feel no surprise when we are
informed that, while he was thus "arranging" these matters, the
remaining kings of the Laki submissively sent in their tribute to the
conqueror, paying it with apparent cheerfulness, though it was "a heavy
and much increased burden."

In his third expedition, which was in his second year, Asshur-izir-pal
turned his arms to the north, and marched towards the Upper Tigris,
where he forced the kings of the Nairi, who had, it appears, regained
their independence, to give in their submission, and appointed them an
annual tribute in gold, silver, horses, cattle, and other commodities.
It was in the course of this expedition that, having ascended to the
sources of the Tsupnat river, or Eastern Tigris, Asshur-izir-pal set up
his memorial side by side with monuments previously erected on the same
site by Tiglath-Pileser and by the first or second Tiglathi-Nin.

Asshur-izir-pal's fourth campaign was towards the south-east. He crossed
the Lesser Zab, and, entering the Zagros range, carried fire and sword
through its fruitful valleys--pushing his arms further than any of his
ancestors, capturing some scores of towns, and accepting or extorting
tribute from a dozen petty kings. The furthest extent of his march was
probably the district of Zohab across the Shirwan branch of the Diyaleh,
to which he gives the name of Edisa. On his return he built, or rather
rebuilt, a city, which a Babylonian king called Tsibir had destroyed at
a remote period, and gave to his new foundation the name of Dur-Asshur,
in grateful acknowledgment of the protection vouchsafed him by "the
chief of the gods."

In his fifth campaign the warlike monarch once more directed his steps
towards the north. Passing through the country of the Qummukh, and
receiving their tribute, he proceeded to war in the eastern portion of
the Mons Masius, where he took the cities of Matyat (now Mediyat) and
Kapranisa. He then appears to have crossed the Tigris and warred on the
flanks of Niphates, where his chief enemy was the people of Kasiyara.
Returning thence, he entered the territory of the Nairi, where he
declares that he overthrew and destroyed 250 strong walled cities, and
put to death a considerable number of the princes.

The sixth campaign of Asshur-izir-pal was in a westerly direction.
Starting from Calah or Nimrud, he crossed the Tigris, and, marching
through the middle of Mesopotamia a little to the north of the Sinjar
range, took tribute from a number of subject towns along the courses of
the rivers Jerujer, Khabour, and Euphrates, among which the most
important were Sidikan (now Arban), Sirki, and Anat (now Anah). From
Anat, apparently his frontier-town in this direction, he invaded the
country of the Tsukhi (Shuhites), captured their city Tsur, and forced
them, notwithstanding the assistance which they received from their
neighbors the Babylonians, to surrender the themselves. He then entered
Chaldaea, and chastised the Chaldaeans, after which he returned in
triumph to his own country.

His seventh campaign was also against the Shuhites. Released from the
immediate pressure of his arms, they had rebelled, and had even ventured
to invade the Assyrian Empire. The Laki, whose territory adjoined that
of the Shuhites towards the north and east, assisted them. The combined
army, which the allies were able to bring into the field amounted
probably to 20,000 men, including a large number of warriors who fought
in chariots. Asshur-izir-pal first attacked the cities on the left bank
of the Euphrates, which had felt his might on the former occasion; and,
having reduced these and punished their rebellion with great severity,
he crossed the river on rafts, and fought a battle with the main army of
the enemy. In this engagement he was completely victorious, defeating
the Tsukhi and their allies with great slaughter, and driving their
routed forces headlong into the Euphrates, where great numbers perished
by drowning. Six thousand five hundred of the rebels fell in the battle;
and the entire country on the right bank of the river, which had escaped
invasion in the former campaign, was ravaged furiously with fire and
sword by the incensed monarch. The cities and castles were burnt, the
males put to the sword, the women, children, and cattle carried off. Two
kings of the Laki are mentioned, of whom one escaped, while the other
was made prisoner, and conveyed to Assyria by the conqueror. A rate of
tribute was then imposed on the land considerably in advance of that to
which it had previously been liable. Besides this, to strengthen his
hold on the country, the conqueror built two new cities, one on either
bank of the Euphrates, naming the city on the left bank after himself,
and that on the right bank after the god Asshur. Both of these places
were no doubt left well garrisoned with Assyrian soldiers, on whom the
conqueror could place entire reliance.

Asshur-izir-pal's eighth campaign was nearly in the same quarter; but
its exact scene lay, apparently, somewhat higher up the Euphrates.
Hazilu, the king of the Laki, who escaped capture in the preceding
expedition, had owed his safety to the refuge given him by the people of
Beth-Adina. Asshur-izir-pal, who seems to have regarded their conduct on
this occasion as an insult to himself, and was resolved to punish their
presumption, made his eighth expedition solely against this bold but
weak people. Unable to meet his forces in the field, they shut
themselves up in their chief city, Kabrabi (?), which was immediately
besieged, and soon taken and burnt by the Assyrians. The country of
Beth-Adina, which lay on the left or east bank of the Euphrates, in the
vicinity of the modern Balis, was overrun and added to the empire. Two
thousand five hundred prisoners were carried off and settled at Calah.

The most interesting of Asshur-izir-pal's campaigns is the ninth, which
was against Syria. Marching across Upper-Mesopotamia, and receiving
various tributes upon his way, the Assyrian monarch passed the Euphrates
on rafts, and, entering the city of Carchemish, received the submission
of Sangara, the Hittite prince, who ruled in that town, and of various
other chiefs, "who came reverently and kissed his sceptre." He then
"gave command" to advance towards Lebanon. Entering the territory of the
Patena, who adjoined upon the northern Hittites, and held the country
about Antioch and Aleppo, he occupied the capital, Kinalua, which was
between the Abri (or Afrin) and the Orontes; alarmed the rebel king,
Lubarna, so that he submitted, and consented to pay a tribute; and then,
crossing the Orontes and destroying certain cities of the Patena, passed
along the northern flank of Lebanon, and reached the Mediterranean. Here
he erected altars and offered sacrifices to the gods, after which he
received the submission of the principal Phoenician states, among which
Tyre, Sidon, Byblus, and Aradus may be distinctly recognized. He then
proceeded inland, and visited the mountain range of Amanus, where he cut
timber, set up a sculptured memorial, and offered sacrifice. After this
he returned to Assyria, carrying with him, besides other plunder, a
quantity of wooden beams, probably cedar, which he carefully conveyed to
Nineveh, to be used in his public buildings.

The tenth campaign of Asshur-izir-pai, and the last which is recorded,
was in the region of the Upper Tigris. The geographical details here are
difficult to follow. We can only say that, as usual, the Assyrian
monarch claims to have over-powered all resistance, to have defeated
armies, burnt cities, and carried off vast numbers of prisoners. The
"royal city" of the monarch chiefly attacked was Amidi, now Diarbekr,
which sufficiently marks the main locality of the expedition.

While engaged in these important wars, which were all included within
his first six years, Asshur-izir-pal, like his great predecessor,
Tiglath-Pileser, occasionally so far unbent as to indulge in the
recreation of hunting. He interrupts the account of his military
achievements to record, for the benefit of posterity, that on one
occasion he slew fifty large wild bulls on the left bank of the
Euphrates, and captured eight of the same animals; while, on another, he
killed twenty ostriches (?), and took captive the same number. We may
conclude, from the example of Tiglath-Pileser, and from other
inscriptions of Asshur-izir-pal himself, that the captured animals were
convoyed to Assyria either as curiosities, or, more probably, as objects
of chase. Asshur-izir-pal's sculptures show that the pursuit of the wild
bull was one of his favorite occupations; and as the animals were scarce
in Assyria, he may have found it expedient to import them.

Asshur-izir-pal appears, however, to have possessed a menagerie park in
the neighborhood of Nineveh, in which were maintained a variety of
strange and curious animals. Animals called _paguts_ or
_pagats_--perhaps elephants--were received as tribute from the
Phoenicians during his reign, on at least one occasion, and placed in
this enclosure, where (he tells us) they throve and bred. So well was
his taste for such curiosities known, that even neighboring sovereigns
sought to gratify it; and the king of Egypt, a Pharaoh probably of the
twenty-second dynasty, sent him a present of strange animals when he was
in Southern Syria, as a compliment likely to be appreciated. This love
of the chase, which he no doubt indulged to some extent at home, found
in Syria, and in the country on the Upper Tigris, its amplest and most
varied exercise. In an obelisk inscription, designed especially to
commemorate a great hunting expedition into these regions, he tells us
that, besides antelopes of all sorts, which he took and sent to Asshur,
he captured and destroyed the following animals:--lions, wild sheep, red
deer, fallow-deer, wild goats or ibexes, leopards large and small,
bears, wolves, jackals, wild boars, ostriches, foxes, hyaenas, wild
asses, and a few kinds which have not been identified. From another
inscription we learn that, in the course of another expedition, which
seems to have been in the Mesopotamian desert, he destroyed 360 large
lions, 257 large wild cattle, and thirty buffaloes, while he took and
sent to Calah fifteen full-grown lions, fifty young lions, some
leopards, several pairs of wild buffaloes and wild cattle, together with
ostriches, wolves, red deer, bears, cheetas, and hyeenas. Thus in his
peaceful hours he was still actively employed, and in the chase of many
dangerous beasts was able to exercise the same qualities of courage,
coolness, and skill in the use of weapons which procured him in his wars
such frequent and such great successes.

[Illustration: PLATE 145]

Thus distinguished, both as a hunter and as a warrior, Asshur-izir-pal,
nevertheless, excelled his predecessors most remarkably in the grandeur
of his public buildings and the free use which he made of the mimetic
and other arts in their ornamentation. The constructions of the earlier
kings at Asshur (or Kileh-Sherghat), whatever merit they may have had,
were beyond a doubt far inferior to those which, from the time of
Asshur-izir-pal, were raised in rapid succession at Calah, Nineveh, and
Beth-Sargina by that monarch and his successors upon the throne. The
mounds of Kileh-Sherghat have yielded no bas-reliefs, nor do they show
any traces of buildings on the scale of those which, at Nimrud,
Koyunjik, and Khorsabad, provoke the admiration of the traveller. The
great palace of Asshur-izir-pal was at Calah, which he first raised from
a provincial town to be the metropolis of the empire. [PLATE CXLV., Fig.
1.] It was a building 360 feet long by 300 broad, consisting of seven or
eight large halls, and a far greater number of small chambers, grouped
round a central court 130 feet long and nearly 100 wide. The longest of
the halls, which faced towards the north, and was the first room entered
by one who approached from the town, was in length 154 and in breadth 33
feet. The others varied between a size little short of this, and a
length of 65 with a breadth of less than 20 feet. The chambers were
generally square, or nearly so, and in their greatest dimensions rarely
exceeded ten yards. The whole palace was raised upon a lofty platform,
made of sun-burnt brick, but externally cased on every side with hewn
stone. There were two grand facades, one facing the north, on which side
there was an ascent to the platform from the town: and the other facing
the Tigris, which anciently flowed at the foot of the platform towards
the west. On the northern front two or three gateways, flanked with
andro-sphinxes, gave direct access to the principal hall or audience
chamber, a noble apartment, but too narrow for its length, lined
throughout with sculptured slabs representing the various actions of the
king, and containing at the upper or eastern end a raised stone platform
cut into steps, which, it is probable, was intended to support at a
proper elevation the carved throne of the monarch. A grand portal in the
southern wall of the chamber, guarded on either side by winged
human-headed bulls in yellow limestone, conducted into a second hall
considerably smaller than the first, and having less variety of
ornament, which communicated with the central court by a handsome
gateway towards the south; and, towards the east, was connected with a
third hall, one of the most remarkable in the palace. This chamber was a
better-proportioned room than most, being about ninety feet long by
twenty-six wide; it ran along the eastern side of the great court, with
which it communicated by two gateways, and, internally, it was adorned
with sculptures of a more finished and elaborate character than any
other room in the building. Behind this eastern hall was another opening
into it, of somewhat greater length, but only twenty feet wide; and this
led to five small chambers, which here bounded the palace. South of the
Great Court were, again, two halls communicating with each other; but
they were of inferior size to those on the north and west, and were far
less richly ornamented. It is conjectured that there were also two or
three halls on the west side of the court between it and the river; but
of this there was no very clear evidence, and it may be doubted whether
the court towards the west was not, at least partially, open to the
river. Almost every hall had one or two small chambers attached to it,
which were most usually at the ends of the halls, and connected with
them by large doorways.

Such was the general plan of the palace of Asshur-izir-pal. Its great
halls, so narrow for their length, were probably roofed with beams
stretching across them from side to side, and lighted by small _louvres_
in their roofs after the manner already described elsewhere. Its square
chambers may have been domed, and perhaps were not lighted at all, or
only by lamps and torches. They were generally without ornamentation.
The grand halls, on the contrary, and some of the narrower chambers,
were decorated on every side, first with sculptures to the height of
nine or ten feet, and then with enamelled bricks, or patterns painted in
fresco, to the height, probably, of seven or eight feet more. The entire
height of the rooms was thus from sixteen to seventeen or eighteen feet.

The character of Asshur-izir-pal's sculptures has been sufficiently
described in an earlier chapter. They have great spirit, boldness, and
force; occasionally they show real merit in the design; but they are
clumsy in the drawing and somewhat coarse in the execution. What chiefly
surprises us in regard to them is the suddenness with which the art they
manifest appears to have sprung up, without going through the usual
stages of rudeness and imperfection. Setting aside one mutilated statue,
of very poor execution, and a single rock tablet, we have no specimens
remaining of Assyrian mimetic art more ancient than this monarch. That
art almost seems to start in Assyria, like Minerva from the head of
Jove, full-grown. Asshur-izir-pal had undoubtedly some constructions of
former monarchs to copy from, both in his palatial and in his sacred
edifices; the old palaces and temples at Kileh-Sherghat must have had a
certain grandeur; and in his architecture this monarch may have merely
amplified and improved upon the models left him by his predecessors; but
his ornamentation, so far as appears, was his own. The mounds of
Kileh-Sherghat have yielded bricks in abundance, but not a single
fragment of a sculptured slab. We cannot prove that ornamental
bas-reliefs did not exist before the time of Asshur-izir-pal; indeed the
rock tablets which earlier monarchs set up were sculptures of this
character; but to Asshur-izir-pal seems at any rate to belong the merit
of having first adopted bas-reliefs on an extensive scale as an
architectural ornament, and of having employed them so as to represent
by their means all the public life of the monarch.

The other arts employed by this king in the adornment of his buildings
were those of enamelling bricks and painting in fresco upon a plaster.
Both involve considerable skill in the preparation of colors, and the
former especially implies much dexterity in the management of several
very delicate processes.

The sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal, besides proving directly the high
condition of mimetic art in Assyria at this time, furnish indirect
evidence of the wonderful progress which had been made in various
important manufactures. The metallurgy which produced the swords,
sword-sheaths, daggers, earrings, necklaces, armlets, and bracelets of
this period, must have been of a very advanced description. The
coach-building which constructed the chariots, the saddlery which made
the harness of the horses, the embroidery which ornamented the robes,
must, similarly, have been of a superior character. The evidence of the
sculptures alone is quite sufficient to show that, in the time of
Asshur-izir-pal, the Assyrians were already a great and luxurious
people, that most of the useful arts not only existed among them, but
were cultivated to a high pitch, and that in dress, furniture, jewelry,
etc., they were not very much behind the moderns.

Besides the magnificent palace which he built at Calah, Asshur-izir-pal
is known also to have erected a certain number of temples. The most
important of these have been already described. They stood at the
north-western corner of the Nimrud platform, and consisted of two
edifices, one exactly at the angle, comprising the higher tower or
_ziggurat_, which stood out as a sort of corner buttress from the great
mound, and a shrine with chambers at the tower's base; the other, a
little further to the east, consisting of a shrine and chambers without
a tower. These temples were richly ornamented both within and without;
and in front of the larger one was an erection which seems to show that
the Assyrian monarchs, either during their lifetime, or at any rate
after their decease, received divine honors from their subjects. On a
plain square pedestal about two feet in height was raised a solid block
of limestone cut into the shape of an arched frame, and within this
frame was carved the monarch in his sacerdotal dress, and with the
sacred collar round his neck, while the five principal divine emblems
were represented above his head. In front of this figure, marking
(apparently) the object of its erection, was a triangular altar with a
circular top, very much resembling the tripod of the Greeks. Here we may
presume were laid the offerings with which the credulous and the servile
propitiated the new god,--many a gift, not improbably, being intercepted
on its way to the deity of the temple. [PLATE CXLV., Fig. 2.]

Another temple built by this monarch was one dedicated to Beltis at
Nineveh. It was perhaps for the ornamentation of this edifice that he
cut "great trees" in Amanus and elsewhere during his Syrian expedition,
and had them conveyed across Mesopotamia to Assyria. It is expressly
stated that these beams were carried, not to Calah, where
Asshur-izir-pal usually resided, but to Nineveh.

A remarkable work, probably erected by this monarch, and set up as a
memorial of his reign at the same city, is an obelisk in white stone,
now in the British Museum. On this monument, which was covered on all
its four sides with sculptures and inscriptions, now nearly obliterated,
Asshur-izir-pal commemorated his wars and hunting exploits in various
countries. The obelisk is a monolith, about twelve or thirteen feet
high, and two feet broad at the base. It tapers slightly, and, like the
Black Obelisk erected by this monarch's son, is crowned at the summit by
three steps or gradines. This thoroughly Assyrian ornamentation seems to
show that the idea of the obelisk was not derived from Egypt, where the
pyramidical apex was universally used, being regarded as essential to
this class of ornaments. If we must seek a foreign origin for the
invention, we may perhaps find it in the pillars [Greek ---- ----] which
the Phoenicians employed, as ornaments or memorials, from a remote
antiquity, objects possibly seen by the monarch who took tribute from
Tyre, Sidon, Aradus, Byblus, and most of the maritime Syrian cities.

Another most important work of this great monarch was the tunnel and
canal already described at length, by which at a vast expenditure of
money and labor he brought the water of the Greater Zab to Calah.
Asshur-izir-pal mentions this great work as his in his annals; and he
was likewise commemorated as its author in the tablet set up in the
tunnel by Sennacherib, when, two centuries later, he repaired it and
brought it once more into use.

It is evident that Asshur-izir-pal, though he adorned and beautified
both the old capital, Asshur, and the now rising city of Nineveh,
regarded the town of Calah with more favor than any other, making it the
ordinary residence of his court, and bestowing on it his chief care and
attention. It would seem that the Assyrian dominion had by this time
spread so far to the north that the situation of Asshur (or
Kileh-Sherghat) was no longer sufficiently central for the capital. The
seat of government was consequently moved forty miles further up the
river. At the same time it was transferred from the west bank to the
east, and placed in the fertile region of Adiabene, near the junction of
the Greater Zab with the Tigris. Here, in a strong and healthy position,
on a low spur from the Jebel Maklub, protected on either side by a deep
river, the new capital grew to greatness. Palace after palace rose on
its lofty platform, rich with carved woodwork, gilding, painting,
sculpture, and enamel, each aiming to outshine its predecessors; while
stone lions, sphinxes, obelisks, shrines,and temple-towers embellished
the scene, breaking its monotonous sameness by variety. The lofty
_ziggurat_ attached to the temple of Nin or Hercules, dominating over
the whole, gave unity to the vast mass of palatial and sacred edifices.
The Tigris, skirting the entire western base of the mound, glassed the
whole in its waves, and, doubling the apparent height, rendered less
observable the chief weakness of the architecture. When the setting sun
lighted up the view with the gorgeous hues seen only under an eastern
sky, Calah must have seemed to the traveller who beheld it for the first
time like a vision from fairy-land.

After reigning gloriously for twenty-five years, from B.C. 883 to B.C.
858, this great prince--"the conqueror" (as he styles himself), "from
the upper passage of the Tigris to Lebanon and the Great Sea, who has
reduced under his authority all countries from the rising of the sun to
the going down of the same"--died, probably at no very advanced age, and
left his throne to his son, who bore the name of Shalmaneser.

Shalmaneser II., the son of Asshur-izir-pal, who may probably have been
trained to arms under his father, seems to have inherited to the full
his military spirit, and to have warred with at least as much success
against his neighbors. His reign was extended to the unusual length of
thirty-five years, during which time he conducted in person no fewer
than twenty-three military expeditions, besides entrusting three or four
others to a favorite general. It would be a wearisome task to follow out
in detail these numerous and generally uninteresting campaigns, where
invasion, battle, flight, siege, submission, and triumphant return
succeeded one another with monotonous uniformity. The style of the court
historians of Assyria does not improve as time goes on. Nothing can well
be more dry and commonplace than the historical literature of this
period, which recalls the early efforts of the Greeks in this
department, and exhibits a decided inferiority to the compositions of
Stowe and Holinshed. The historiographer of Tiglath-Pileser I., between
two and three centuries earlier, is much superior, as a writer, to those
of the period to which we are come, who eschew all graces of style,
contenting themselves with the curtest and dryest of phrases, and with
sentences modelled on a single unvarying type.

Instead, therefore, of following in the direct track of the annalist
whom Shalmaneser employed to record his exploits, and proceeding to
analyze his account of the twenty-seven campaigns belonging to this
reign, I shall simply present the reader with the general result in a
few words, and then draw his special attention to a few of the
expeditions which are of more than common importance.

It appears, then, that Shalmaneser, during the first twenty-seven years
of his reign, led in person twenty-three expeditions into the
territories of his neighbors, attacking in the course of these inroads,
besides petty tribes, the following nations and countries:--Babylonia,
Chaldaea, Media, the Zimri, Armenia, Upper Mesopotamia, the country
about the head-streams of the Tigris, the Hittites, the Patena, the
Tibareni, the Hamathites, and the Syrians of Damascus. He took tribute
during the same time from the Phoenieian cities of Tyre, Sidon, and
Byblus, from the Tsukhi or Shuhites, from the people of Muzr, from the
Bartsu or Partsu, who are almost certainly the Persians, and from the
Israelites. He thus traversed in person the entire country between the
Persian Gulf on the south and Mount Niphates upon the north, and between
the Zagros range (or perhaps the Persian desert) eastward, and, westward,
the shores of the Mediterranean. Over the whole of this region he made
his power felt, and even beyond it the nations feared him and gladly
placed themselves under his protection. During the later years of his
reign, when he was becoming less fit for warlike toils, he seems in
general to have deputed the command of his armies to a subject in whom
he had great confidence, a noble named Dayan-Asshur. This chief, who
held an important office as early as Shahnaneser's fifth year, was in
his twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, thirtieth, and thirty-first employed
as commander-in-chief, and sent out, at the head of the main army of
Assyria, to conduct campaigns against the Armenians, against the
revolted Patena, and against the inhabitants of the modern Kurdistan. It
is uncertain whether the king himself took any part in the campaigns of
these years, the native record the first and third persons are
continually interchanged, some of the actions related being ascribed to
the monarch and others to the general; but on the whole the impression
left by the narrative is that the king, in the spirit of a well-known
legal maxim assumes as his own the acts which he has accomplished
through his representative. In his twenty-ninth year, however,
Shalmaneser seems to have led an expedition in person into Khirki (the
Niphates country), where he "overturned, beat to pieces, and consumed
with fire the towns, swept the country with his troops, and impressed on
the inhabitants the fear of his presence."

The campaigns of Shalmaneser which have the greatest interest are those
of his sixth, eighth, ninth, eleventh, fourteenth, eighteenth, and
twenty-first years. Two of these were directed against Babylonia, three
against Ben-hadad of Damascus, and two against Khazail (Hazael) of

In his eighth year Shalmaneser took advantage of a civil war in
Babylonia between King Merodach-sum-adin and a younger brother,
Merodach-bel-usati (?), whose power was about evenly balanced, to
interfere in the affairs of that country, and under pretence of helping
the legitimate monarch, to make himself master of several towns. In the
following year he was still more fortunate. Having engaged, defeated,
and slain the pretender to the Babylonian crown, he marched on to
Babylon itself, where he was probably welcomed as a deliverer, and from
thence proceeded into Chaldaea, or the tract upon the coast, which was
at this time independent of Babylon, and forced its kings to become his
tributaries. "The power of his army," he tells us, "struck terror as far
as the sea."

The wars of Shalmaneser in Southern Syria commenced as early as his
ninth year. He had succeeded to a dominion in Northern Syria which
extended over the Patena, and probably over most of the northern
Hittites; and this made his territories conterminous with those of the
Phoenicians, the Hamathites, the southern Hittites, and perhaps the
Syrians of Damascus. At any rate the last named people felt themselves
threatened by the growing power on or near their borders, and, convinced
that they would soon be attacked, prepared for resistance by entering
into a close league with their neighbors. The king of Damascus, who was
the great Ben-hadad, Tsakhulena, king of Hamath, Ahab, king of Israel,
the kings of the southern Hittites, those of the Phoenician cities on
the coast, and others, formed an alliance, and, uniting their forces,
went out boldly to meet Shalnaneser, offering him battle. Despite,
however, of this confidence, or perhaps in consequence of it, the allies
suffered a defeat. Twenty thousand men fell in the battle. Many chariots
and much of the material of war were captured by the Assyrians. But
still no conquest was effected. Shalmaneser does not assert that he
either received submission or imposed a tribute; and the fact that he
did not venture to renew the war for five years seems to show that the
resistance which he had encountered made him hesitate about continuing
the struggle.

Five years, however, having elapsed, and the power of Assyria being
increased by her successes in Lower Mesopotamia, Shalmaneser, in the
eleventh year of his reign, advanced a second time against Hamath and
the southern Hittites. Entering their territories unexpectedly, he was
at first unopposed, and succeeded in taking a large number of their
towns. But the troops of Ben-hadad soon appeared in the field.
Phoenicia, apparently, stood aloof, and Hamath was occupied with her own
difficulties; but Ben-hadad, having joined the Hittites, again gave
Shalmaneser battle; and though that monarch, as usual, claims the
victory, it is evident that he gained no important advantage by his
success. He had once more to return to his own land without having
extended his sway, and this time (as it would seem) without even any
trophies of conquest.

Three years later, he made another desperate effort. Collecting his
people "in multitudes that were not to be counted," he crossed the
Euphrates with above a hundred thousand men. Marching southwards, he
soon encountered a large army of the allies, Damascenes, Hamathites,
Hittites, and perhaps Phoenicians, the first-named still commanded by
the undaunted Ben-hadad. This time the success of the Assyrians is
beyond dispute. Not only were the allies put to flight, not only did
they lose most of their chariots and implements of war, but they appear
to have lost hope, and, formally or tacitly, to have forthwith dissolved
their confederacy. The Hittites and Hamathites probably submitted to the
conqueror; the Phoenicians withdrew to their own towns, and Damascus was
left without allies, to defend herself as she best might, when the tide
of conquest should once more flow in this direction.

In the fourth year the flow of the tide came. Shalmaneser, once more
advancing southward, found the Syrians of Damascus strongly posted in
the fastnesses of the Anti-Lebanon. Since his last invasion they had
changed their ruler. The brave and experienced Ben-hadad had perished by
the treachery of an ambitious subject, and his assassin, the infamous
Hazael, held the throne. Left to his own resources by the dissolution of
the old league, this monarch had exerted himself to the utmost in order
to repel the attack which he knew was impending. He had collected a very
large army, including above eleven hundred chariots, and, determined to
leave nothing to chance, had carefully taken up a very strong position
in the mountain range which separated his territory from the neighboring
kingdom of Hamath, or valley of Coele-Syria. Here he was attacked by
Shalmaneser, and completely defeated, with the loss of 16,000 of his
troops, 1121 of his chariots, a quantity of his war material, and his
camp. This blow apparently prostrated him; and when, three years later,
Shalmaneser invaded his territory, Hazael brought no army into the
field, but let his towns, one after another, be taken and plundered by
the Assyrians.

It was probably upon this last occasion, when the spirit of Damascus was
cowed, and the Phoenician cities, trembling at the thought of their own
rashness in having assisted Hazael and Ben-hadad, hastened to make their
submission and to resume the rank of Assyrian tributaries, that the
sovereign of another Syrian country, taking warning from the fate of his
neighbors, determined to anticipate the subjection which he could not
avoid, and, making a virtue of necessity, to place himself under the
Assyrian yoke. Jehu, "son of Omri," as he is termed in the
Inscription--i.e., successor and supposed descendant of the great Omri
who built Samaria, sent as tribute to Shalmaneser a quantity of gold and
silver in bullion, together with a number of manufactured articles in
the more precious of the two metals. In the sculptures which represent
the Israelitish ambassadors presenting this tribute to the great king,
these articles appear carried in the hands, or on the shoulders, of the
envoys, but they are in general too indistinctly traced for us to
pronounce with any confidence upon their character. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig.

[Illustration: PLATE 146]

Shalmaneser had the same taste as his father for architecture and the
other arts. He completed the _ziggurat_ of the Great Temple of Nin at
Calah, which his father had left unfinished, and not content with the
palace of that monarch, built for himself a new and (probably) more
magnificent residence on the same lofty platform, at the distance of
about 150 yards. This edifice was found by Mr. Layard in so ruined a
condition, through the violence which it had suffered, apparently at the
hands of Esarhaddon, that it was impossible either to trace its plan or
to form a clear notion of its ornamentation. Two gigantic winged bulls,
partly destroyed, served to show that the grand portals of the chambers
were similar in character and design to those of the earlier monarch,
while from a number of sculptured fragments it was sufficiently plain
that the walls had been adorned with bas-reliefs of the style used in
Asshur-izir-pal's edifice. The only difference observable was in the
size and subjects of the sculptures, which seemed to have been on a
grander scale and more generally mythological than those of the
North-West palace.

The monument of Shalmaneser which has attracted most attention in this
country is an obelisk in black marble, similar in shape and general
arrangement to that of Asshur-izir-pal, already described, but of a
handsomer and better material. This work of art was discovered in a
prostrate position under the debris which covered up Shalmaneser's
palace. It contained bas-reliefs in twenty compartments, five on each of
its four sides; the space above, between, and below then being covered
with cuneiform writing, sharply inscribed in a minute character. The
whole was in most excellent preservation.

The bas-reliefs represent the monarch, accompanied by his vizier and
other chief officers, receiving the tribute of five nations, whose
envoys are ushered into the royal presence by officers of the court, and
prostrate themselves at the Great King's feet ere they present their
offerings. The gifts brought are, in part, objects carried in the
hand--gold, silver, copper in bars and cubes, goblets, elephants' tusks,
tissues, and the like--in part, animals such as horses, camels, monkeys
and baboons of different kinds, stags, lions, wild bulls, antelopes,
and--strangest of all--the rhinoceros and the elephant. One of the
nations, as already mentioned, is that of the Israelites. The others
are, first, the people of Kirzan, a country bordering on Armenia, who
present gold, silver, copper, horses, and camels, and fill the four
highest compartments with a train of nine envoys: secondly, the Muzri,
or people of Muzr, a country nearly in the same quarter, who are
represented in the four central compartments, with six envoys conducting
various wild animals; thirdly, the Tsukhi, or Shuhites, from the
Euphrates, to whom belong the four compartments below the Muzri, which
are filled by a train of thirteen envoys, bringing two lions, a stag,
and various precious articles, among which bars of metal, elephants'
tusks, and shawls or tissues are conspicuous; and lastly, the Patera,
from the Orontes, who fill three of the lowest compartments with a train
of twelve envoys bearing gifts like those of the Israelites.

Besides this interesting monument, there are very few remains of art
which can be ascribed to Shalmaneser's time with any confidence. The
sculptures found on the site of his palace belonged to a later monarch,
who restored and embellished it. His own bas-reliefs were torn from
their places by Esarhaddon, and by him defaced and used as materials in
the construction of a new palace. We are thus left almost without
materials for judging of the progress made by art during Shalmaneser's
reign. Architecture, it may be conjectured, was modified to a certain
extent, precious woods being employed more frequently and more largely
than before; a fact of which we seem to have an indication in the
frequent expeditions made by Shalmaneser into Syria, for the single
purpose of cutting timber in its forests. Sculpture, to judge from the
obelisk, made no advance. The same formality, the same heaviness of
outline, the same rigid adherence to the profile in all representations
both of man and beast, characterize the reliefs of both reigns equally,
so far as we have any means of judging.

Shalmaneser seems to have held his court ordinarily at Calah, where he
built his palace and set up his obelisk; but sometimes he would reside
for a time at Nineveh or at Asshur. He does not appear to have built any
important edifice at either of these two cities, but at the latter he
left a monument which possesses some interest. This is the stone statue,
now in a mutilated condition, representing a king seated, which was
found by Mr. Layard at Kileh-Sherghat, and of which some notice has
already been taken. Its proportions are better than those of the small
statue of the monarch's father, standing in his sacrificial dress, which
was found at Nimrud; and it is superior to that work of art, in being of
the size of life; but either its execution was originally very rude, or
it must have suffered grievously by exposure, for it is now wholly rough
and unpolished.

The later years of Shahuaneser appear to have been troubled by a
dangerous rebellion. The infirmities of age were probably creeping upon
him. He had ceased to go out with his armies; and had handed over a
portion of his authority to the favorite general who was entrusted with
the command of his forces year after year. The favor thus shown may have
provoked jealousy and even alarm. It may have been thought that the
legitimate successor was imperilled by the exaltation of a subject whose
position would enable him to in gratiate himself with the troops, and
who might be expected, on the death of his patron, to make an effort to
place the crown on his own head. Fears of this kind may very probably
have so worked on the mind of the heir apparent as to determine him not
to await his father's demise, but rather to raise the standard of revolt
during his lifetime, and to endeavor, by an unexpected _coup-de-main,_
to anticipate and ruin his rival. Or, possibly, Asshur-danin-pal, the
eldest son of Shalmaneser, like too many royal youths, may have been
impatient of the long life of his father, and have conceived the guilty
desire, with which our fourth Henry is said to have taxed his
first-born, a "hunger for the empty chair" of which the aged monarch,
still held possession. At any rate, whatever may have been the motive
that urged him on, it is certain that Asshur-danin-pal rebelled against
his sire's authority, and, raising the standard of revolt, succeeded in
carrying with him a great part of the kingdom. At Asshur, the old
metropolis, which may have hoped to lure back the Court by its
subservience, at Arbela in the Zab region, at Amidi on the Upper Tigris,
at Tel-Apni near the site of Orfa, and at more than twenty other
fortified places, Asshur-danin-pal was pro-claimed king, and accepted by
the inhabitants for their sovereign. Shalmaneser must have felt himself
in imminent peril of losing his crown. Under these circumstances he
called to his assistance his second son Shamas-Vul, and placing him at
the head of such of his troops as remained firm to their allegiance,
invested him with full power to act as he thought best in the existing
emergency. Shamas-Vul at once took the field, attacked and reduced the
rebellious cities one after another, and in a little time completely
crushed the revolt and reestablished peace throughout the empire.
Asshur-danin-pal, the arch conspirator, was probably put to death; his
life was justly forfeit; and neither Shamas-Vul nor his father is likely
to have been withheld by any inconvenient tenderness from punishing
treason in a near relative, as they would have punished it in any other
person. The suppressor of the revolt became the heir of the kingdom; and
when, shortly afterwards, Shalmaneser died, the piety or prudence if his
faithful son was rewarded by the rich inheritance of the Assyrian

Shalmaneser reigned, in all, thirty-five years, from B.C. 858 to B.C.
823. His successor, Shamas-Vul, held the throne for thirteen years, from
B.C. 823 to B.C. 810. Before entering upon the consideration of this
latter monarch's reign, it will be well to cast your eyes once more over
the Assyrian Empire, such as it has now become, and over the nations
with which its growth had brought it into contact. Considerable changes
had occurred since the time of Tiglath-Pileser I., the Assyrian
boundaries having been advanced in several directions, while either this
progress, or the movements of races beyond the frontier, had brought
into view many new and some very important nations.

The chief advance which the "Terminus" of the Assyrians had made was
towards the west and the north-west. Instead of their dominion in this
quarter being bounded by the Euphrates, they had established their
authority over the whole of Upper Syria, over Phoenicia, Hamath, and
Samaria, or the kingdom of the Israelites. These countries were not
indeed reduced to the form of provinces; on the contrary, they still
retained their own laws, administration, and native princes; but they
were henceforth really subject to Assyria, acknowledging her suzerainty,
paying her an annual tribute, and giving a free passage to her armies
through their territories. The limit of the Assyrian Empire towards the
west was consequently at this time the Mediterranean, from the Gulf of
Iskanderun to Cape Carmel, or perhaps we should say to Joppa. Their
north-western boundary was the range of Taurus next beyond Amanus, the
tract between the two belonging to the Tibareni (Tubal), who had
submitted to become tributaries. Northwards, little if any progress had
been made. The chain of Niphates--"the high grounds over the effluents
of the Tigris and Euphrates"--where Shalmaneser set up "an image of his
majesty," seems still to be the furthest limit. In other words, Armenia
is unconquered, the strength of the region and the valor of its
inhabitants still protecting it from the Assyrian arms. Towards the east
some territory seems to have been gained, more especially in the central
Zagros region, the district between the Lower Zab and Holwan, which at
this period bore the name of Hupuska; but the tribes north and south of
this tract were still for the most part unsubdued. The southern frontier
may be regarded as wholly unchanged: for although Shalmaneser warred in
Babylonia, and even took tribute on one occasion from the petty kings of
the Chaldaean towns, he seems to have made no permanent impression in
this quarter. The Tsukhi or Shuhites are still the most southern of his

The principal changes which time and conquest had made among the
neighbors of Assyria were the following. Towards the west she was
brought into contact with the kingdom of Damascus, and, through her
tributary Samaria with Judea. On the north-west she had new enemies in
the _Quins_ (Coans?) who dwelt on the further side of Amanus, near the
Tibareni, in a part of the country afterwards called Cilicia, and the
Cilicians themselves, who are now first mentioned. The Moschi seem to
have withdrawn a little from this neighborhood, since they no longer
appear either among Assyria's enemies or her tributaries. On the north
all minor powers had disappeared; and the Armenians (Urarda) were now
Assyria's sole neighbors. Towards the east she had come into contact
with the _Mannai,_ or Minni, about Lake Urumiyeh, with the Harkhar in
the Van region and in north-western Kurdistan, with the Bartsu or
Persians and the Mada or Medes in the country east of Zagros, the modern
province of Ardelan, and with the Tsimri, or Zimri, in Upper Luristan.
Among all her fresh enemies, she had not, however, as yet found one
calculated to inspire any serious fear. No new organized monarchy
presented itself. The tribes and nations upon her borders were still
either weak in numbers or powerless from their intestine divisions; and
there was thus every reason to expect a long continuance of the success
which had naturally attended a large centralized state in her contests
with small kingdoms or loosely-united confederacies. Names celebrated in
the after history of the world, as those of the Medes and Persians, are
now indeed for the first time emerging into light from the complete
obscurity which has shrouded there hitherto; and tinged as they are with
the radiance of their later glories, they show brightly among the many
insignificant tribes and nations with which Assyria has been warring for
centuries; but it would be a mistake to suppose that these names have
any present importance in the narrative or represent powers capable as
yet of contending on equal terms with the Assyrian Empire, or even of
seriously checking the progress of her successes. The Medes and Persians
are at this period no more powerful than the Zimri, the Minni, the
Urarda, or than half a dozen others of the border nations, whose
appellations sound strange in the ears even of the advanced student.
Neither of the two great Arian peoples had as yet a capital city,
neither was united under a king: separated into numerous tribes, each
under its chief, dispersed in scattered towns and villages, poorly
fortified or not fortified at, all, they were in the same condition as
the Nairi, the Qummukh, the Patena, the Hittites, and the other border
races whose relative weakness Assyria had abundantly proved in a long
course of wars wherein she had uniformly been the victor.

The short reign of Shamas-Vul II., presents but little that calls for
remark. Like Shalmaneser II., he resided chiefly at Calah, where,
following the example of his father and grandfather, he set up an
obelisk (or rather a stele) in commemoration of his various exploits.
This monument, which is covered on three sides with an inscription in
the hieratic or cursive character, contains an opening invocation to Nin
or Hercules, conceived in the ordinary terms, the genealogy and titles
of the king, an account of the rebellion of Asshur-bani-pal, together
with its suppression, and Shamas-Vul's own annals for the first four
years of his reign. From these we learn that he displayed the same
active spirit as his two predecessors, carrying his arms against the
Nairi on the north, against Media and Arazias on the east, and against
Babylonia on the south. The people of Hupuska, the Minni, and the
Persians (Bartsu) paid him tribute. His principal success was that of
his fourth campaign, which was against Babylon. He entered the country
by a route often used, which skirted the Zagros mountain range for some
distance, and then crossed the flat, probably along the course of the
Diyaleh, to the southern capital. The Babylonians, alarmed at his
advance, occupied a strongly fortified place on his line of route, which
he besieged and took after a vigorous resistance, wherein the blood of
the garrison was shed like water. Eighteen thousand were slain; three
thousand were made prisoners; the city itself was plundered and burnt,
and Shamas-Vul pressed forward against the flying enemy. Hereupon the
Babylonian monarch, Merodach-belatzu-ikbi, collecting his own troops and
those of his allies, the Chaldaeans, the Aramaeans or Syrians, and the
Zimri--a vast host--met the invader on the river Daban--perhaps a branch
of the Euphrates--and fought a great battle in defence of his city. He
was, however, defeated by the Assyrians, with the loss of 5000 killed,
2000 prisoners, 100 chariots, 200 tents, and the royal standard and
pavilion. What further military or political results the victory may
have had is uncertain. Shamas-Vul's annals terminate abruptly at this
point, and we are left to conjecture the consequences of the campaign
and battle. It is possible that they were in the highest degree
important; for we find, in the next reign, that Babylonia, which has so
long been a separate and independent kingdom, is reduced to the
condition of a tributary, while we have no account of its reduction by
the succeeding monarch, whose relations with the Babylonians, so far as
we know, were of a purely peaceful character.

The stele of Shamas-Vul contains one allusion to a hunting exploit, by
which we learn that this monarch inherited his grandfather's partiality
for the chase. He found wild bulls at the foot of Zagros when he was
marching to invade Babylonia, and delaying his advance to hunt them, was
so fortunate as to kill several.

We know nothing of Shamas-Vul as a builder, and but little of him as a
patron of art. He seems to have been content with the palaces of his
father and grandfather, and to have been devoid of any wish to outshine
them by raising edifices which should throw theirs into the shade. In
his stele he shows no originality; for it is the mere reproduction of a
monument well known to his predecessors, and of which we have several
specimens from the time of Asshur-izir-pal downwards. It consists of a
single figure in relief--a figure representing the king dressed in his
priestly robes, and wearing the sacred emblems round his neck, standing
with the right arm upraised, and enclosed in the customary arched frame.
This figure, which is somewhat larger than life, is cut on a single
solid block of stone, and then placed on another broader block, which
serves as a pedestal. It closely resembles the figure of
Asshur-izir-pal, whereof a representation has been already given.

The successor of Shamas-Vul was his son Vul-lush, the third monarch of
that name, who ascended the throne B.C. 810, and held it for twenty-nine
years, from B.C. 810 to B.C. 781. The memorials which we possess of this
king's reign are but scanty. They consist of one or two slabs found at
Nimrod, of a short dedicatory inscription on duplicate statues of the
god Nebo brought from the same place, of some brick inscriptions from
the mound of Nebbi Vunus, and of the briefest possible notices of the
quarters in which he carried on war, contained in one copy of the Canon.
As none of these records are in the shape of annals except the last, and
as only these and the slab notices are historical, it is impossible to
give any detailed account of this long and apparently important reign.
We can only say that Vul-lush III., was as warlike a monarch as any of
his predecessors, and that his efforts seem to have extended the
Assyrian dominion in almost every quarter. He made seven expeditions
across the Zagros range into Media, two into the Van country, and three
into Syria. He tells us that in one of these expeditions he succeeded in
making himself master of the great city of Damascus, whose kings had
defied (as we have seen) the repeated attacks of Shalmaneser. He reckons
as his tributaries in these parts, besides Damascus, the cities of Tyre
and Sidon, and the countries of Khumri or Samaria, of Palestine or
Philistia, and of Hudum (Idumaea or Edom). On the north and east he
received tokens of submission from the Nairi, the Minni, the Medes, and
the Partsu, or Persians. On the south, he exercised a power, which seems
like that of a sovereign, in Babylonia; where homage was paid him by the
Chaldaeans, and where, in the great cities of Babylon, Borsippa, and
Cutha (or Tiggaba), he was allowed'to offer sacrifice to the gods Bel,
Nebo, and Nergal. There is, further, some reason to suspect that, before
quitting Babylonia, he established one of his sons as viceroy over the
country; since he seems to style himself in one place "the king to whose
son Asshur, the chief of the gods, has granted the kingdom of Babylon."

It thus appears that by the time of Vul-lush III., or early in the
eighth century u.e., Assyria had with one hand grasped Babylonia, while
with the other she had laid hold of Philistia and Edom. She thus touched
the Persian Gulf on the one side, while on the other she was brought
into contact with Egypt. At the same time she had received the
submission of at least some portion of the great nation of the Medes,
who were now probably moving southwards from Azerbijan and gradually
occupying the territory which was regarded as Media Proper by the Greeks
and Romans. She held Southern Armenia, from Lake Van to the sources of
the Tigris; she possessed all Upper Syria, including Commagene and
Amanus she had tributaries even on the further side of that mountain
range; she bore sway over the whole Syrian coast from Issus to Gaza; her
authority was acknowledged, probably, by all the tribes and kingdoms
between the coast and the desert, certainly by the Phoenicians, the
Hamathites, the Patena, the Hittites, the Syrians of Damascus, the
people of Israel, and the Idumaeans, or people of Edom. On the east she
had reduced almost all the valleys of Zagros, and had tributaries in the
great upland on the eastern side of the range. On the south, if she had
not absorbed Babylonia, she had at least made her influence paramount
there. The full height of her greatness was not indeed attained till a
century later; but already the "tall cedar" was "exalted above all the
trees of the field; his boughs were multiplied; his branches had become
long; and under his shadow dwelt great nations."

Not much is known of Vul-lush III., as a builder, or as a patron of art.
He calls himself the "restorer of noble buildings which had gone to
decay," an expression which would seem to imply that he aimed rather at
maintaining former edifices in repair than at constructing new ones. He
seems, however, to have built some chambers on the mound of Nimrod,
between the north-western and the south-western palaces, and also to
have had a palace at Nineveh on the mound now called Nebbi Ynnus. The
Nimrud chambers were of small size and poorly ornamented; they contained
no sculptures; the walls were plastered and then painted in fresco with
a variety of patterns. They may have been merely guard-rooms, since they
appear to have formed a portion of a high tower. The palace at Nebbi
Ynnus was probably a more important work; but the superstitious regard
of the natives for the supposed tomb of Jonah has hitherto frustrated
all attempts made by Europeans to explore that mass of ruins.

Among all the monuments recovered by recent researches, the only works
of art assignable to the reign of Vul-lush are two rude statues of the
god Nebo, almost exactly resembling one another. From the representation
of one of them, given on a former page of this volume, the reader will
see that the figures in question have scarcely any artistic merit. The
head is disproportionately large, the features, so far as they can be
traced, are coarse and heavy, the arms and hands are poorly modelled,
and the lower part is more like a pillar than the figure of a man. We
cannot suppose that Assyrian art was incapable, under the third
Vul-lush, of a higher flight than these statues indicate; we must
therefore regard them as conventional forms, reproduced from old models,
which the artist was bound to follow. It would seem, indeed, that while
in the representation of animals and of men of inferior rank, Assyrian
artists were untrammelled by precedent, and might aim at the highest
possible perfection, in religious subjects, and in the representation of
kings and nobles, they were limited, by law or custom, to certain
ancient forms and modes of expression, which we find repeated from the
earliest to the latest times with monotonous uniformity.

If these statues, however, are valueless as works of art, they have yet
a peculiar interest for the historian, as containing the only mention
which the disentombed remains have furnished of one of the most
celebrated names of antiquity--a name which for many ages vindicated to
itself a leading place, not only in the history of Assyria, but in that
of the world. To the Greeks and Romans Semiramis was the foremost of
women, the greatest queen who had ever held a sceptre, the most
extraordinary conqueror that the East had ever produced. Beautiful as
Helen or Cleopatra, brave as Tomyris, lustful as Messalina, she had the
virtues and vices of a man rather than a woman, and performed deeds
scarcely inferior to those of Cyrus or Alexander the Great. It is an
ungrateful task to dispel illusions, more especially such as are at once
harmless and venerable for their antiquity; but truth requires the
historian to obliterate from the pages of the past this well-known
image, and to substitute in its place a very dull and prosaic figure--a
Semiramis no longer decked with the prismatic hues of fancy, but clothed
instead in the sober garments of fact. The Nebo idols are dedicated, by
the Assyrian officer who had them executed, "to his lord Vul-lush and
his lady _Sammuramit_" from whence it would appear to be certain, in the
first place, that that monarch was married to a princess who bore this
world-renowned name, and, secondly, that she held a position superior to
that which is usually allowed in the East to a queen-consort. An
inveterate Oriental prejudice requires the rigid seclusion of women; and
the Assyrian monuments, thoroughly in accord with the predominant tone
of Eastern manners, throw a veil in general over all that concerns the
weaker sex, neither representing to us the forms of the Assyrian women
in the sculptures, nor so much as mentioning their existence in the
inscriptions. Very rarely is there an exception to this all but
universal reticence. In the present instance, and in about two others,
the silence usually kept is broken; and a native woman comes upon the
scene to tantalize us by her momentary apparition. The glimpse that we
here obtain does not reveal much. Beyond the fact that the principal
queen of Vul-lush III., was named Semiramis, and the further fact,
implied in her being mentioned at all, that she had a recognized
position of authority in the country, we can only conclude,
conjecturally, from the exact parallelism of the phrases used, that she
bore sway conjointly with her husband, either over the whole or over a
part of his dominions. Such a view explains, to some extent, the
wonderful tale of the Ninian Semiramis, which was foisted into history
by Ctesias; for it shows that he had a slight basis of fact to go upon.
It also harmonizes, or may be made to harmonize, with the story of
Semiramis as told by Herodotus, who says that she was a Babylonian
queen, and reigned five generations before Nitocris, or about B.C. 755.
For it is quite possible that the Sammuramit married to Vul-lush III.,
was a Babylonian princess, the last descendant of a long line of kings,
whom the Assyrian monarch wedded to confirm through her his title to the
southern provinces; in which case a portion of his subjects would regard
her as their legitimate sovereign, and only recognize his authority as
secondary and dependent upon hers. The exaggeration in which Orientals
indulge, with a freedom that astonishes the sober nations of the West,
would seize upon the unusual circumstance of a female having possessed a
conjoint sovereignty, and would gradually group round the name a host of
mythic details, which at last accumulated to such an extent that, to
prevent the fiction from becoming glaring, the queen had to be thrown
back into mythic times, with which such details were in harmony. The
Babylonian wife of Vul-lush III., who gave him his title to the regions
of the south, and reigned conjointly with him both in Babylonia and
Assyria, became first a queen of Babylon, ruling independently and
alone, and then an Assyrian empress, the conqueror of Egypt and
Ethiopia, the invader of the distant India, the builder of Babylon, and
the constructor of all the great works which were anywhere to be found
in Western Asia. The grand figure thus produced imposed upon the
uncritical ancients, and was accepted even by the moderns for many
centuries. At length the school of Heeren and Niebuhr, calling common
sense to their aid, pronounced the figure a myth. It remained for the
patient explorers of the field of Assyrian antiquity in our own day to
discover the slight basis of fact on which the myth was founded, and to
substitute for the shadowy marvel of Ctesias a very prosaic and
commonplace princess, who, like Atossa or Elizabeth of York,
strengthened her husband's title to his crown, but who never really made
herself conspicuous by either great works or by exploits.

With Vul-lush III., the glories of the Nimrud line of monarchs come to a
close, and Assyrian history is once more shrouded in a partial darkness
for a space of nearly forty years, from B.C. 781 to B.C. 745. The
Assyrian Canon shows us that three monarchs bore sway during this
interval--Shalmaneser III., who reigned from B.C. 78l to B.C. 771,
Asshur-dayan III., who reigned from B. C. 771 to B.C. 753, and
Asshur-lush, who held the throne from the last-mentioned date to B.C..
745, when he was succeeded by the second Tiglatli-Pileser. The brevity
of these reigns, which average only twelve years apiece, is indicative
of troublous times, and of a disputed, or, at any rate, a disturbed
succession. The fact that none of the three monarchs left buildings of
any importance, or, so far as appears, memorials of any kind, marks a
period of comparative decline, during which there was a pause in the
magnificent course of Assyrian conquests, which had scarcely known a
check for above a century. The causes of the temporary inaction and
apparent decline of a power which had so long been steadily advancing,
would form an interesting subject of speculation to the political
philosopher; but they are too obscure to be investigated here, where our
space only allows us to touch rapidly on the chief known facts of the
Assyrian history.

One important difficulty presents itself at this point of the narrative,
in an apparent contradiction between the native records of the Assyrians
and the casual notices of their history contained in the Second Book of
Kings. The Biblical Pul--"the king of Assyria" who came up against the
land of Israel and received from Menahem a thousand talents of silver,
"that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand," is
unnoticed in the native inscriptions, and even seems to be excluded from
the royal lists by the absence of any name at all resembling his in the
proper place in the famous Canon. Pul appears in Scripture to be the
immediate predecessor of Tiglath Pileser. At any rate, as his expedition
against Menahem is followed within (at the utmost) thirty-two years by
an expedition of Tiglath Pileser against Pekah, his last year (if he was
indeed a king of Assyria) cannot have fallen earlier than thirty-two
years before Tiglath-Pileser's first. In other words, if the Hebrew
numbers are historical some portion of Pul's reign must necessarily fill
into the interval assigned by the Canon to the kings for which it is the
sole authority--Shalmaneser III., Asshur-dayan III., and Asshur-lush.
But these names are so wholly unlike the name of Pul that no one of them
can possibly be regarded as its equivalent, or even as the original from
which it was corrupted. Thus the Assyrian records do not merely omit
Pul, but exclude him: and we have to inquire how this can be accounted
for, and who the Biblical Pul is, if he is not a regular and recognized
Assyrian monarch.

Various explanations of the difficulty have been suggested. Some would
regard Pul as a general of Tiglath-Pileser (or of some earlier Assyrian
king), mistaken by the Jews for the actual monarch. Others would
identify him with Tiglath-Pileser himself. But perhaps the most probable
supposition is, that he was a pretender to the Assyrian crown, never
acknowledged at Nineveh, but established in the western (and southern)
provinces so firmly, that he could venture to conduct an expedition into
Lower Syria, and to claim there the fealty of Assyrians vassals. Or
possibly he may have been a Babylonian monarch, who in the troublous
times that had now evidently come upon the northern empire, possessed
himself of the Euphrates valley, and thence descended upon Syria and
Palestine. Berosus, it must be remembered, represented Pul as a
Chaldaean king; and the name itself, which is wholly alien to the
ordinary Assyrian type, has at least one counterpart among known
Babylonian namies.

The time of Pul's invasion may be fixed by combining the Assyrian and
the Hebrew chronologies within very narrow limits. Tiglath-Pileser
relates that he took tribute from Menahem in a war which lasted from his
fourth to his eighth year, or from B.C. 742 to B.C. 738. As Menahem only
reigned ten years, the earliest date that can be assigned to Puls
expedition will be B.C. 752, while the latest possible date will be B.C.
746, the year before the accession of Tiglath-Pileser. In any case the
expedition fells within the eight years assigned by the Assyrian Canon
to the reign of Asshur-lush, Tiglath-Pileser's immediate predecessor.

It is remarkable that into this interval falls also the famous era of
Nabonassar, which must have marked some important change, dynastic or
other, at Babylon. The nature of the change will be considered at length
in the Babylonia a section. At present it is sufficient to observe that,
in the declining condition of Assyria under the kings who followed
Vul-lush III., there was naturally a growth of power and independence
among the border countries. Babylon, repenting of the submission which
she had made either to Vul-lush III., or to his father, Shamas-Vul II.,
once more vindicated her right to freedom, and resumed the position of a
separate and hostile monarchy. Samaria, Damascus, Judaea, ceased to pay
tribute. Enterprising kings, like Jeroboam II., and Menahem, taking
advantage of Assyria's weakness, did not content themselves with merely
throwing off her yoke, but proceeded to enlarge their dominions at the
expense of her feudatories. Judging of the unknown from the known, we
may assume that on the north and east there were similar defections to
those on the west and south--that the tribes of Armenia and of the
Zagros range rose in revolt, and that the Assyrian boundaries were thus
contracted in every quarter.

At the same time, within the limits of what was regarded as the settled
Empire, revolts began to occur. In the reign of Asshur-dayan III. (B.C.
771-753), no fewer than three important insurrections are recorded--one
at a city called Libzu, another at Arapkha, the chief town of
Arrapachitis, and a third at Gozan, the chief city of Gauzanitis or
Mygdonia. Attempts were made to suppress these revolts; but it may be
doubted whether they were successful. The military spirit had declined;
the monarchs had ceased to lead out their armies regularly year by year,
preferring to pass their time in inglorious ease at their rich and
luxurious capitals. Asshur-dayan III., during nine years of his
eighteen, remained at home, under-taking no warlike enterprise.
Asshur-lush, his successor, displayed even less of military vigor.
During the eight years of his reign he took the field twice only,
passing six years in complete inaction. At the end of this time, Calah,
the second city in the kingdom, revolted; and the revolution was brought
about which ushered in the splendid period of the Lower Empire.

It was probably during the continuance of the time of depression, when
an unwarlike monarch was living in inglorious ease amid the luxuries and
refinements of Nineveh, and the people, sunk in repose, gave the
themselves up to vicious indulgences more hateful in the eye of God than
even the pride and cruelty which they were want to exhibit in war, that
the great capital was suddenly startled by a voice of warning in the
streets--a voice which sounded everywhere, through corridor, and lane,
and square, bazaar and caravanserai, one shrill monotonous cry--"Yet
forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." A strange wild man,
clothed in a rough garment of skin, moving from place to place,
announced to the inhabitants their doom. None knew who he was or whence
he had come; none had ever beheld him before; pale, haggard,
travel-stained, he moved before then like a visitant from another
sphere; and his lips still framed the fearful words--"Yet forty days,
and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Had the cry fallen on them in the
prosperous time, when each year brought its tale of victories, and every
nation upon their borders trembled at the approach of their arms, it
would probably have been heard with apathy or ridicule, and would have
failed to move the heart of the nation. But coming, as it did, when
their glory had declined; when their enemies, having been allowed a
breathing space, had taken courage and were acting on the offensive in
many quarters; when it was thus perhaps quite within the range of
probability that some one of their numerous foes might shortly appear in
arms before the place, it struck them with fear and consternation. The
alarm communicated itself from the city to the palace; and his trembling
attendants "came and told the king of Nineveh," who was seated on his
royal throne in the great audience-chamber, surrounded by all the pomp
and magnificence of his court. No sooner did he hear, than the heart of
the king was touched, like that of his people; and he "arose from his
throne, and laid aside his robe from him, and covered himself with
sackcloth and sat in ashes." Hastily summoning his nobles, he had a
decree framed, and "caused it to be proclaimed and published through
Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither
man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor
drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry
mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and
from the violence that is in their hands." Then the fast was proclaimed,
and the people of Nineveh, fearful of God's wrath, put on sackcloth
"from the greatest of them even to the least of them." The joy and
merriment, the revelry and feasting of that great city were changed into
mourning and lamentation; the sins that had provoked the anger of the
Most High ceased; the people humbled themselves; they "turned from their
evil way," and by a repentance, which, if not deep and enduring, was
still real and unfeigned, they appeased for the present the Divine
wrath. Vainly the prophet sat without the city, on its eastern side,
under his booth woven of boughs, watching, waiting, hoping (apparently)
that the doom which he had announced would come, in spite of the
people's repentance. God was more merciful than man. He had pity on the
"great city," with its "six score thousand persons that could not
discern between their right hand and their left," and, sparing the
penitents, left their town to stand unharmed for more than another

The circumstances under which Tiglath-Pileser II., ascended the throne in
the year B.C. 745 are unknown to us. No confidence can be placed in the
statement of Bion and Polyhistor which seems to have been intended to
refer to this monarch, whom they called Beletaras--a corruption perhaps
of the latter half of the name--that he was, previously to his elevation
to the royal dignity, a mere vine-dresser, whose occupation was to keep
in order the gardens of the king. Similar tales of the low origin of
self-raised and usurping monarchs are too common in the East, and are
too often contradicted by the facts, when they come known to us, for
much credit to attach to the story told by these late writers, the
earlier of whom, must have written five or six hundred years after
Tiglath-Pileser's time. We aught, however, conclude, without much chance
of mistake, from such a story being told, that the king-intended
acquired the throne irregularly; that either he was not of the blood
royal, or that, being so, he was at any rate not the legitimate heir.
And the conclusion at which we should thus arrive is confirmed by the
monarch's inscriptions; for though he speaks repeatedly of "the kings
his fathers." and even calls the royal buildings at Galati. "the palaces
of his fathers," yet he never mentions his actual father's name in any
record that has come down to us. Such a silence is so contrary to the
ordinary practice of Assyrian monarchs, who glory in their descent and
parade it on every possible occasion, that, where it occurs, we are
justified in concluding the monarch to have been an usurper, deriving
his title to the crown, not from his ancestry or from any law of
succession, but from a successful revolution, in which he played the
principal part. It matters little that such a monarch, when he is
settled upon the throne, claims, in a vague and general way, connection
with the kings of former times. The claim may often have a basis of
truth; for in monarchies where polygamy prevails, and the kings have
numerous daughters to dispose of, almost all the nobility can boast that
they are of the blood royal. Where the claim is in no sense true, it
will still be made; for it flatters the vanity of the monarch, and there
is no one to gainsay it.

Only in such cases we are sure to find a prudent vagueness--an assertion
of the fact of the connection, expressed in general terms, without any
specification of the particulars on which the supposed fact rests.

On obtaining the crown whatever the circumstances under which he
obtained it--Tiglath-Pileser immediately proceeded to attempt the
restoration of the Empire by engaging in a series of wars, now upon one,
now upon another frontier, seeking by his unwearied activity and energy
to recover the losses suffered through the weakness of his predecessors,
and to compensate for their laches by a vigorous discharge of all the
duties of the kingly office. The order of these wars, which formerly it
was impossible to determine, is now fixed by means of the Assyrian
Canon, and we may follow the course of the expeditions conducted by
Tiglath-Pileser II., with as much confidence and certainty as those of
Tiglath-Pileser I., Asshur-izir-pal, or the second Shalmaneser. It is
scarcely necessary, however, to detain the reader by going through the
entire series. The interest of Tiglath-Pileser's military operations
attaches especially to his campaigns in Babylonia and in Syria, where he
is brought into contact with persons otherwise known to us. His other
wars are comparatively unimportant. Under these circumstances it is
proposed to consider in detail only the Babylonian and Syrian
expeditions, and to dismiss the others with a few general remarks on the
results which were accomplished by them.

Tiglath-Pileser's expeditions against Babylon were in his first and in
his fifteenth years, B.C. 745 and 731. No sooner did he find himself
settled upon the throne, than he levied an army, and marched against
Southern Mesopotamia, which appears to have been in a divided and
unsettled condition. According to the Canon of Ptolemy, Nabonassar then
ruled in Babylon. Tiglath-Pileser's annals confuse the accounts of his
two campaigns; but the general impression which we gather from them is
that, even in B.C. 745, the country was divided up into a number of
small principalities, the sea-coast being under the dominion of
Merodach-Baladan, who held his court in his father's city of Bit-Yakin;
while in the upper region there were a number of petty princes,
apparently independent, among whom may be recognized names which seem to
occur later in Ptolemy's list, among the kings of Babylon to whom he
assigns short reigns in the interval between Nabonassar and
Mardocempalus (Merodach-Baladan). Tiglath-Pileser attacked and defeated
several of these princes, taking the towns of Kur-Galzu (now Akkerkuf),
and Sippara or Sepharvaim, together with many other places of less
consequence in the lower portion of the country, after which he received
the submission of Merodach-Baladan, who acknowledged him for suzerain,
and consented to pay an annual tribute. Tiglath-Pileser upon this
assumed the title of "King of Babylon" (B.C. 729), and offered sacrifice
to the Babylonian gods in all the principal cities.

The first Syrian war of Tiglath-Pileser was undertaken in his third year
(B.C. 743), and lasted from that year to his eighth. In the course of it
he reduced to subjection Damascus, which had regained its independence,
and was under the government of Rezin; Samaria, where Menahem, the
adversary of Pul, was still reigning; Tyre, which was under a monarch
bearing the familiar name of Hiram; Hamath, Gebal, and the Arabs
bordering upon Egypt, who were ruled by a queen called Khabiba. He
likewise met and defeated a vast army under Azariah (or Uzziah), king of
Judah, but did not succeed in inducing him to make his submission. It
would appear by this that Tiglath-Pileser at this time penetrated deep
into Palestine, probably to a point which no Assyrian king but Vul-lush
III., had reached previously. But it would seem, at the same time, that
his conquests were very incomplete; they did not include Judaea or
Philistia, Idumaea, or the tribes of the Hauran; and they left untouched
the greater number of the Phoenician cities. It causes us, therefore, no
surprise to find that in a short time, B.C. 734, he renewed his efforts
in this quarter, commencing by an attack on Samaria, where Pekah was now
king, and taking Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Jamoah, and Kedesh,
and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and
carrying them captive to Assyria, thus "lightly afflicting, the land of
Zebulun and the land of Naphtali," or the more northern portion of the
Holy Land, about Lake Merom, and from that to the Sea of Gennesareth.

This attack was-followed, shortly (B.C. 733) by the most important of
Tiglath-Pileser's Syrian wars. It appears that the common danger, which
had formerly united the Hittites, Hamathites, and Damascenes in a close
alliance, now caused a league to be formed between Damascus and Samaria,
the sovereigns of which--Pekah and Rezin--made an attempt to add Judaea
to their confederation, by declaring war against Ahaz, attacking his
territory, and threatening to substitute in his place as king of
Jerusalem a creature of their own, "the son of Tabeal." Hard pressed by
his enemies, Ahaz applied to Assyria, offering to become
Tiglath-Pileser's "servant"--i.e, his vassal and tributary--if he would
send troops to his assistance, and save him from the impending danger.
Tiglath-Pileser was not slow to obey this call. Entering Syria at the
head of an army, he fell first upon Rezin, who was defeated, and fled to
Damascus, where Tiglath-Pileser besieged him for two years, at the end
of which time he was taken and slain. Next he attacked Pekah, entering
his country on the north-east, where it bordered upon the Damascene
territory, and overrunning the whole of the Trans-Jordanic provinces,
together (apparently) with some portion of the Cis-Jordanic region. The
tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who had
possessed the country between the Jordan and the desert from the time of
Moses, were seized and carried away captive by the conqueror, who placed
them in Upper Mesopotamia, on the affluents of the Bilikh and the
Khabour, from about Harran to Nisibis. Some cities situated on the right
bank of the Jordan, in the territory of Issachar, but belonging to
Manasseh, were at the same time seized and occupied. Among these,
Megiddo in the great plain of Esdraelon, and Dur or Dor upon the coast,
some way below Tyre, were the most important. Dur was even thought of
sufficient consequence to receive an Assyrian governor at the same time
with the other principal cities of Southern Syria.

After thus chastising Samaria, Tiglath-Pileser appears to have passed on
to the south, where he reduced the Philistines and the Arab tribes, who
inhabited the Sinaitic desert as far as the borders of Egypt. Over these
last he set, in lieu of their native queen, an Assyrian governor. He
then returned towards Damascus, where he held a court, and invited the
neighboring states and tribes to send in their submission. The states
and tribes responded to his invitation. Tiglath-Pileser, before quitting
Syria, received submission and tribute not only from Ahaz, king of
Judah, but also from Mit'enna, king of Tyre; Pekah, king of Samaria;
Khanun, king of Gaza; and Mitinti, king of Ascalon: from the Moabites,
the Ammonites, the people of Arvad or Aradus, and the Idumaeans. He thus
completely re-established the power of Assyria in this quarter, once
more recovering to the Empire the entire tract between the coast and the
desert from Mount Amanus on the north to the Red Sea and the confines of

One further expedition was led or sent by Tiglath-Pileser into Syria,
probably in his last year. Disturbances having occurred from the revolt
of Mit'enna of Tyre and the murder of Pekah of Israel by Hoshea, an
Assyrian army marched westward, in B.C. 725, to put them down. The
Tyrian monarch at once submitted; and Hoshea, having entered into
negotiations, agreed to receive investiture into his kingdom at the
hands of the Assyrians, and to hold it as an Assyrian territory. On
these terns peace was re-established, and the army of Tiglath-Pileser
retired and recrossed the Euphrates.

Besides conducting these various campaigns, Tiglath-Pileser employed
himself in the construction of some important works at Calah, which was
his usual and favorite residence. He repaired and adorned the palace of
Shalmaneser II., in the centre of the Nimrud mound; and he built a new
edifice at the south-eastern corner of the platform, which seems to have
been the most magnificent of his erections. Unfortunately, in neither
case were his works allowed to remain as he left them. The sculptures
with which he adorned Shalmaneser's palace were violently torn from
their places by Esar-haddon, and, after barbarous ill-usage, were
applied to the embellishment of his own residence by that monarch. The
palace which he built at the south-eastern corner of the Nimrud mound
was first ruined by some invader, and then built upon by the last
Assyrian king. Thus the monuments of Tiglath-Pileser II., come to us in
a defaced and unsatisfactory condition, rendering it difficult for us to
do full justice either to his architectural conceptions or to his taste
in ornamentation. We can see, however, by the ground plan of the
building which Mr. Loftus uncovered beneath the ruins of Mr. Layard's
south-east palaces that the great edifice of Tiglath-Pileser was on a
scale of grandeur little inferior to that of the ancient palaces, and on
a plan very nearly similar. The same arrangement of courts and halls and
chambers, the same absence of curved lines or angles other than right
angles, the same narrowness of rooms in comparison with their length,
which have been noted in the earlier buildings, prevailed also in those
of this king. With regard to the sculptures with which, after the
example of the former monarchs, he ornamented their walls, we can only
say they seem to have been characterized by simplicity of treatment--the
absence of all ornamentation, except fringes, from the dresses, the
total omission of backgrounds, and (with few exceptions) the limitation
of the markings to the mere outlines of forms. The drawing is rather
freer and more spirited than that of the sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal;
animal forms, as camels, oxen, sheep, and goats, are more largely
introduced, and there is somewhat less formality in the handling. But
the change is in no respect very decided, or such as to indicate an era
in the progress of art.

Tiglath-Pileser appears, by the Assyrian Canon, to have had a reign of
eighteen years. He ascended the throne in B.C. 747, and was succeeded in
B.C. 727 by Shalmaneser, the fourth monarch who had borne that

It is uncertain whether Shalmaneser IV, was related to Tiglath-Pileser
or not. As, however, there is no trace of the succession having been
irregular or disputed, it is most probable that he was his son. He
ascended the throne in B.C. 727, and ceased to reign in B.C. 722, thus
holding the royal power for less than six years. It was probably very
soon after his accession, that, suspecting the fidelity of Samaria, he
"came up" against Hoshea, king of Israel, and, threatening him with
condign punishment, so terrified him that he made immediate submission.
The arrears of tribute were rendered, and the homage due from a vassal
to his lord was paid; and Shalmaneser either returned into his own
country or turned his attention to other enterprises. But shortly
afterwards he learnt that Hoshea, in spite of his submission and
engagements, was again contemplating defection; and, conscious of his
own weakness, was endeavoring to obtain a promise of support from an
enterprising monarch who ruled in the neighboring country of Egypt. The
Assyrian conquests in this quarter had long been tending to bring them
into collision with the great power of Eastern Africa, which had once
held, and always coveted, the dominion of Syria. Hitherto such relations
as they had had with the Egyptians appear to have been friendly. The
weak and unwarlike Pharaohs who about this time bore sway in Egypt had
sought the favor of the neighboring Asiatic power by demanding Assyrian
princesses in marriage and affecting Assyrian names for their offspring.
But recently an important change had occurred. A brave Ethiopian prince
had descended the valley of the Nile at the head of a swarthy host, had
defeated the Egyptian levies, had driven the reigning monarch into the
marshes of the Delta, or put him to a cruel death, and had established
his own dominion firmly, at any rate over the upper country. Shebek the
First bore sway in Memphis in lieu of the blind Bocchoris; and Hoshea,
seeing in this bold and enterprising king the natural foe of the
Assyrians, and therefore his own natural ally and friend, "sent
messengers" with proposals, which appear to have been accepted; for on
their return Hoshea revolted openly, withheld his tribute, and declared
himself independent. Shalmaneser, upon this, came up against Samaria for
the second time, determined now to punish his vassal's perfidy with due
severity. Apparently, he was unresisted; at any rate, Hoshea fell into
his power, and was seized, bound, and shut up in prison. A year or two
later Shalmaneser made his third and last expedition into Syria. What
was the provocation given him, we are not told; but this time, he came
up _throughout all the land_ and being met with resistance, he laid
formal siege to the capital. The siege commenced in Shahnaneser's fourth
year, B.C. 724, and was protracted to his sixth, either by the efforts
of the Egyptians, or by the stubborn resistance of the inhabitants. At
last, in B.C. 722, the town surrendered, or was taken by storm; but
before this consummation had been reached, Shalmaneser's reign would
seem to have come to an end in consequence of a successful revolution.

While he was conducting these operations against Samaria, either in
person or by means of his generals, Shalmaneser appears to have been
also engaged in hostilities with the Phoenician towns. Like Samaria,
they had revolted at the death of Tiglath-Pileser; and Shalmaneser,
consequently, marched into Phoenecia at the beginning of his reign,
probably in his first year, overran the entire country, and forced all
the cities to resume their position of dependence. The island Tyre,
however, shortly afterwards shook off the yoke. Hereupon Shalmaneser
"returned" into these parts, and collecting a fleet from Sidon,
Paleo-Tyrus, and Akko, the three most important of the Phoenician towns
after Tyre, proceeded to the attack of the revolted place. His vessels
were sixty in number, and were manned by eight hundred Phoenician
rowers, co-operating with probably, a smaller number of unskilled
Assyrians. Against this fleet the Tyrians, confiding in their maritime
skill, sent out a force of twelve vessels only, which proved, however,
quite equal to the occasion; for the assailants were dispersed and
driven off, with the loss of 500 prisoners.

Shalmaneser, upon this defeat, retired, and gave up all active
operations, contenting himself with leaving a body of troops on the
mainland, over against the city, to cut off the Tyrians from the
supplies of water which they were in the habit of drawing from the river
Litany, and from certain aqueducts which conducted the precious fluid
from springs in the mountains. The Tyrians, it is said, held out against
this pressure for five years, satisfying their thirst with rain water,
which they collected in reservoirs. Whether they then submitted, or
whether the attempt to subdue them was given up, is uncertain, since the
quotation from Menander, which is our sole authority for this passage of
history, here breaks off abruptly.

The short reign of Shalmaneser IV, was, it is evident, sufficiently
occupied by the two enterprises of which accounts have now been
given--the complete subjugation of Samaria, and the attempt to reduce
the island Tyre. Indeed, it is probable that neither enterprise had been
conducted when a dynastic revolution, caused by the ambition of a
subject, brought the unhappy monarch's reign to an untimely end. The
conquest of Samaria is claimed by Sargon as an event of his first year;
and the resistance of the Tyrians, if it really continued during the
full space assigned to it by Menander, must have extended beyond the
terns of Shalmaneser's reign, into the first or second year of his
successor. It was probably the prolonged absence of the Assyrian monarch
from his capital, caused by the obstinacy of the two cities which he was
attacking, that encouraged a rival to come forward and seize the throne;
just as in the Persian history we shall find the prolonged absence of
Canbyses in Egypt produce a revolution and change of dynasty at Susa. In
the East, where the monarch is not merely the chief but the sole power
in the state, the moving spring whose action must be continually exerted
to prevent the machinery of government from standing still, it is always
dangerous for the reigning prince to be long away from his metropolis.
The Orientals do not use the language of mere unmeaning compliment when
they compare their sovereigns with the sun, and speak of them as
imparting light and life to the country and people over which they rule.
In the king's absence all languishes; the course of justice is
suspended; public works are stopped; the expenditure of the Court, on
which the prosperity of the capital mainly depends, being withdrawn,
trade stagnates, the highest branches suffering most; artists are left
without employment; work-men are discharged; wages fall; every industry
is more or less deranged, and those engaged in it suffer accordingly;
nor is there any hope of a return of prosperity until the king comes
home. Under these circumstances a general discontent prevails; and the
people, anxious for better times, are ready to welcome any pretender who
will come forward, and, on any pretext whatever, declare the throne
vacant, and claim to be its proper occupant. If Shalmaneser continued to
direct in person the siege of Samaria during the three years of its
continuance, we cannot be surprised that the patience of the Ninevites
was exhausted, and that in the third year they accepted the rule of the
usurper who boldly proclaimed himself king.

What right the new monarch put forward, what position he had previously
held, what special circumstances, beyond the mere absence of the
rightful king, facilitated his attempts, are matters on which the
monuments throw no light, and on which we must therefore be content to
be ignorant. All that we can see is, that either personal merit or
official rank and position must have enabled him to establish himself;
for he certainly did not derive any assistance from his birth, which
must have been mediocre, if not actually obscure. It is the custom of
the Babylonian and Assyrian kings to glory in their ancestry, and when
the father has occupied a decently high position, the son declares his
sire's name and rank at the commencement of each inscription, but Sargon
never, in any record, names his father, nor makes the slightest allusion
to his birth and descent, unless it be in vague phrases, wherein he
calls the former kings of Assyria, and even those of Babylonia, his
ancestors. Such expressions seem to be mere words of course, having no
historical value: and it would be a mistake even to conclude from them
that the new king intended seriously to claim the connection of kindred
with the monarchs of former times.

It has been thought indeed, that Sargon, instead of cloaking his
usurpation under some decent plea of right, took a pride in boldly
avowing it. The name Sargon has been supposed to be one which he adopted
as his royal title at the time of his establishment upon the throne,
intending by the adoption to make it generally known that he had
acquired the crown, not by birth or just claim, but by his own will and
the consent of the people. Sargon, or Sar-gina, as the native name is
read, means "the firm" or "well-established king," and (it has been
argued) "shows the usurper." The name is certainly unlike the general
run of Assyria royal titles; but still, as it is one which is found to
have been previously borne by at least one private person in Assyria, it
is perhaps best to suppose that it was the monarch's real original
appellation, and not assumed when he came to the throne; in which case
no argument can be founded upon it.

Military success is the best means of confirming a doubtful title to the
leadership of a warlike nation. No sooner, therefore, was Sargon
accepted by the Ninevites as king than he commenced a series of
expeditions, which at once furnished employment to unquiet spirits, and
gave the prestige of military glory to his own name. He warred
successively in Susiana, in Syria, on the borders of Egypt, in the tract
beyond Amanus, in Melitene and southern Armenia, in Kurdistan, in Media,
and in Babylonia. During the first fifteen years of his reign, the space
which his annals cover, he kept his subjects employed in a continual
series of important expeditions, never giving himself, nor allowing
them, a single year of repose. Immediately upon his accession he marched
into Susiana, where he defeated Hum-banigas, the Elamitie king, and
Merodach-Baladan, the old adversary of Tiglath-Pileser, who had revolted
and established himself as king over Babylonia. Neither monarch was,
however, reduced to subjection, though an important victory was gained,
and many captives taken, who were transported into the country of the
Hittites, In the same year, B.C. 722, he received the submission of
Samaria, which surrendered, probably, to his generals, after it had been
besieged two full years. He punished the city by depriving it of the
qualified independence which it had enjoyed hitherto, appointing instead
of a native king an Assyrian officer to be its governor, and further
carrying off as slaves 27,280 of the inhabitants. On the remainder,
however, he contented himself with re-imposing the rate of tribute to
which the town had been liable before its revolt.--The next year, B.C.
721, he was forced to march in person into Syria in order to meet and
quell a dangerous revolt.  Yahu-bid (or Ilu-bid), king of Hamath--a
usurper like Sargon himself--had rebelled, and had persuaded the cities
of Arpad Zimira, Damascus, and Samaria to cast in their lot with his,
and to form a confederacy, by which it was imagined that effectual
resistance might be offered to the Assyrian arms. Not content merely to
stand on the defensive in their several towns, the allies took to the
field; and a battle was fought at Kar-kar or Garrrar (perhaps one of the
many Aroers), where the superiority of the Assyrian troops was once more
proved, and Sargon gained a complete victory over his enemies. Yahu-bid
himself was taken and beheaded; and the chiefs of the revolt in the
other towns were also put to death.

Having thus crushed the rebellion and re-established tranquillity
throughout Syria, Sargon turned his arms towards the extreme south, and
attacked Gaza, which was a dependency of Egypt. The exact condition of
Egypt at this time is open to some doubt. According to Manetho's
numbers, the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty had not yet begun to
reign. Bocchoris the Saite occupied the throne, a humane but weak
prince, of a contemptible presence, and perhaps afflicted with
blindness. No doubt such a prince would tempt the attack of a powerful
neighbor; and, so for, probability might seem to be in favor of the
Manethonian dates. But, on the other hand, it must be remembered that
Egypt had lately taken an aggressive attitude, incompatible with a time
of weakness: she had intermeddled between the Assyrian crown and its
vassals, by entering into a league with Hoshea: and she had extended her
dominion over a portion of Philistia, thereby provoking a collision with
the Great Power of the East. Again, it is worthy of note that the name
of the Pharaoh who had dealings with Hoshea, if it does not seen at
first sight very closely to resemble the Egyptian Shebek, is, at any
rate, a possible representative of that word, while no etymological
skill can force it into agreement with any other name in this portion of
the Egyptian lists. Further, it is to be remarked that at this point of
the Assyrian annals, a Shebek appears in them, holding a position of
great authority in Egypt, though not dignified with the title of king.
These facts furnish strong grounds for believing that the Manethonian
chronology, which can be proved to be in many points incorrect, has
placed the accession of the Ethiopians somewhat too late, and that that
event occurred really as early as B.C. 725 or B.C. 730.

At the same time, it must be allowed that all difficulty is not removed
by this supposition. The Shebek _Sibahe_ (or _Sibaki_) of the Assyrian
record bears an inferior title, and not that of king. He is also,
apparently, contemporary with another authority in Egypt, who is
recognized by Sargon as the true "Pharaoh," or native ruler. Further, it
is not till eight or nine years later that any mention is made of
Ethiopia as having an authority over Egypt or as in any way brought into
contact with Sargon. The proper conclusion from these facts seems to be
that the Ethiopians established themselves gradually; that in B.C. 720,
Shebek or Sabaco, though master of a portion of Egypt, had not assumed
the royal title, which was still borne by a native prince of little
power--Bocchoris, or Scthos--who held his court somewhere in the Delta;
and that it was not till about the year B.C. 712 that this shadowy
kingdom passed away, that the Ethiopian rule was extended over the whole
of Egypt, and that Sabaco assumed the full rank of an independent

If this be the true solution of the difficulty which has here presented
itself, we must conclude that the first actual collision between the
powers of Egypt and Assyria took place at a time very unfavorable to the
former. Egypt was, in fact, divided against itself, the fertile tract of
the Delta being under one king, the long valley of the Nile under
another. If war was not actually going on, jealousy and suspicion, at
any rate, must have held the two sovereigns apart; and the Assyrian
monarch, coming at such a time of intestine feud, must have found it
comparatively easy to gain a triumph in this quarter.

The armies of the two great powers met at the city of Rapikh, which
seems to be the Raphia of the Greeks and Romans, and consequently the
modern _Refah_ a position upon the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about
half-way between Gaza and the Wady-el-Arish, or "River of Egypt." Here
the forces of the Philistines, under Khanun, king of Gaza, and those of
Shebek, the Tar-dan (or perhaps the Sultan) of Egypt, had effected a
junction, and awaited the approach of the invader. Sargon, having
arrived, immediately engaged the allied army, and succeeded in defeating
it completely, capturing Khanun, and forcing Shebek to seek safety in
flight. Khanun was deprived of his crown and carried off to Assyria by
the conqueror.

Such was the result of the first combat between the two great powers of
Asia and Africa. It was an omen of the future, though it was scarcely a
fair trial of strength. The battle of Raphia foreshadowed truly enough
the position which Egypt would hold among the nations from the time that
she ceased to be isolated, and was forced to enter into the struggle for
preeminence, and even for existence, with the great kingdoms of the
neighboring continent. With rare and brief exceptions, Egypt has from
the time of Sargon succumbed to the superior might of whatever power has
been dominant in Western Asia, owning it for lord, and submitting, with
a good or bad grace, to a position involving a greater or less degree of
dependence. Tributary to the later Assyrian princes, and again,
probably, to Nebuchadnezzar, she had scarcely recovered her independence
when she fell under the dominion of Persia. Never successful,
notwithstanding all her struggles, in thoroughly shaking off this hated
yoke, she did but exchange her Persian for Greek masters, when the
empire of Cyrus perished. Since then, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, and
Turks have, each in their turn, been masters of the Egyptian race, which
has paid the usual penalty of precocity in the early exhaustion of its

After the victories of Aroer and Raphia, the Assyrian monarch appears to
have been engaged for some years in wars of comparatively slight
interest towards the north and the north-east. It was not till B.C. 715,
five years after his first fight with the Egyptians, that he again made
an expedition towards the south-west, and so came once more into contact
with nations to whose fortunes we are not wholly indifferent. His chief
efforts on this occasion were directed against the peninsula of Arabia.
The wandering tribes of the desert, tempted by the weak condition to
which the Assyrian conquest had reduced Samaria, made raids, it appears,
into the territory at their pleasure, and carried off plunder. Sargon
determined to chastise these predatory bands, and made an expedition
into the interior, where "he subdued the uncultivated plains of the
remote Arabia, which had never before given tribute to Assyria," and
brought under subjection the Thamudites, and several other Arab tribes,
carrying off a certain number and settling them in Samaria itself, which
thenceforth contained an Arab element in its population. Such an effect
was produced on the surrounding nations by the success of this inroad,
that their princes hastened to propitiate Sargon's favor by sending
embassies, and excepting the position of Assyrian tributaries. The
reigning Pharaoh, whoever he may have been, It-hamar, king of the
Sabaeans, and Tsamsi, queen of the Arabs, thus humbled themselves,
sending presents, and probably entering into engagements which bound
them for the future.

Four years later (B.C. 711) Sargon led a third expedition into these
parts, regarding it as important to punish the misconduct of the people
of Ashdod. Ashdod had probably submitted after the battle of Raphia, and
had been allowed to retain its native prince, Azuri. This prince, after
awhile, revolted, withheld his tribute, and proceeded to foment
rebellion against Assyria among the neighboring monarchs; whereupon
Sargon deposed him, and made his brother Akhimit king in his place. The
people of Ashdod, however, rejected the authority of Akhimit, and chose
a certain Yaman, or Yavan, to rule over them, who strengthened himself
by alliances with the other Philistine cities, with Judaea, and with
Edom. Immediately upon learning this. Sargon assembled his army, and
proceeded to Ashdod to punish the rebels; but, before his arrival, Yaman
had fled away, and "escaped to the dependencies of Egypt, which" (it is
said) "were under the rule of Ethiopia." Ashdod itself, trusting in the
strength from which it derived its name, resisted; but Sargon laid siege
to it and in a little time forced it to surrender. Yaman fled to Egypt,
but his wife and children were captured and, together with the bulk of
the inhabitants, were transported into Assyria, while their place was
supplied by a number of persons who had been made prisoners in Sargon's
eastern wars. An Assyrian governor was set over the town.

The submission of Ethiopia followed. Ashdod, like Samaria, had probably
been encouraged to revolt by promises of foreign aid. Sargon's old
antagonist, Shebek, had recently brought the whole of Egypt under his
authority, and perhaps thought the time had come when he might venture
once more to measure his strength against the Assyrians. But Sargon's
rapid movements and easy capture of the strong Ashdod terrified him, and
produced a change of his intentions. Instead of marching into Philistia
and fighting a battle, he sent a suppliant embassy, surrendered Yaman,
and deprecated Sargon's wrath. The Assyrian monarch boasts that the king
of Meroe, who dwelt in the desert, and had never sent ambassadors to any
of the kings his predecessors, was led by the fear of his majesty to
direct his steps towards Assyria and humbly bow down before him.

At the opposite extremity of his empire, Sargon soon after-wards gained
victories which were of equal or greater importance. Having completely
reduced Syria, humiliated Egypt, and struck terror into the tribes of
the north and east, he determined on a great expedition against Babylon.
Merodach-Baladan had now been twelve years in quiet possession of the
kingdom. He had established his court at Babylon, and, suspecting that
the ambition of Sargon would lead him to attempt the conquest of the
south he had made preparations for resistance by entering into close
alliance with the Susianians under Sutruk-Nakhunta on the one hand, and
with the Aramaean tribes above Babylonia on the other. Still, when
Sargon advanced against him, instead of giving him battle, or even
awaiting him behind the walls of the capital, he at once took to flight.
Leaving garrisons in the more important of the inland towns, and
committing their defence to his generals, he himself hastened down to
his own city of Beth-lakin, which was on the Euphrates, near its mouth,
and, summoning the Aramaeans to his assistance, prepared for a vigorous
resistance in the immediate vicinity of his native place. Posting
himself in the plain in front of the city, and protecting his front and
left flank with a deep ditch, which he filled with water from the
Euphrates, he awaited the advance of Sargon, who soon appeared at the
head of his troops, and lost no time in beginning the attack. We cannot
follow with any precision the exact operations of the battle, but it
appears that Sargon fell upon the Babylonian troops, defeated them, and
drove them into their own dyke, in which many of therm were drowned, at
the same time separating them from their allies, who, on seeing the
disaster, took to flight, and succeeded in making their escape.
Merodach-Baladan, abandoning his camp, threw himself with the poor
remains of his army into Beth-Yakin, which Saigon then besieged and
took. The Babylonian monarch fell into the hands of his rival, who
plundered his palace and burnt his city, but generously spared his life.
He was not, however, allowed to retain his kingdom, the government of
which was assumed by Sargon himself, who is the Arceanus of Ptolemy's

The submission of Babylonia was followed by the reduction of the
Aramaeans, and the conquest of at least a portion of Susiana. To the
Susianin territory Sargon transported the Comnumkha from the Upper
Tigris, placing the mixed population under a governor, whom he made
dependent on the viceroy of Babylon.

The Assyrian dominion was thus firmly established on the shores of the
Persian Gulf. The power of Babylon was broken. Henceforth the Assyrian
rule is maintained over the whole of Chaldaea and Babylonia, with few
and brief interruptions, to the close of the Empire. The reluctant
victim struggles in his captor's grasp, and now and then for a short
space shakes it off; but only to be seized again with a fiercer gripe,
until at length his struggles cease, and he resigns himself to a fate
which he has come to regard as inevitable. During the last fifty years
of the Empire, from B.C. 650 to B.C. 625, the province of Babylon was
almost as tranquil as any other.

The pride of Sargon received at this time a gratification which he is
not able to conceal, in the homage which was paid to him by sovereigns
who had only heard of his fame, and who were safe from the attacks of
his armies. While he held his court at Babylon, in the year B.C. 708 or
707, he gave audience to two embassies from two opposite quarters, both
sent by islanders dwelling (as he expresses it) "in the middle of the
seas" that washed the outer skirts of his dominions. Upir, king of
Asmun, who ruled over an island in the Persian Gulf,--Khareg, perhaps,
or Bahrein,--sent messengers, who bore to the Great King the tribute of
the far East. Seven Cyprian monarchs, chiefs of a country which lay "at
the distance of seven days from the coast, in the sea of the setting
sun," offered him by their envoys the treasures of the West. The very
act of bringing presents implied submission; and the Cypriots not only
thus admitted his suzerainty, but consented to receive at his hands and
to bear back to their country a more evident token of subjection. This
was an effigy of the Great King carved in the usual form, and
accompanied with an inscription recording his name and titles, which was
set up at Idalium, nearly in the centre of the island, and made known to
the Cypriots the form and appearance of the sovereign whom it was not
likely that they would ever see.

The expeditions of Sargon to the north and north-east had results less
splendid than those which he undertook to the south-west and the south;
but it may be doubted whether they did not more severely try his
military skill and the valor of his soldiers. The mountain tribes of
Zagros, Taurus, and Niphates,--Medes, Armaenians, Tibarini, Moschi,
etc.,--were probably far braver men and far better soldiers than the
levies of Egypt, Susiana, and Babylon. Experience, moreover, had by this
time taught the tribes the wisdom of uniting against the common foe, and
we find Ambris the Tibareni in in alliance with Mita the Moschian, and
Urza the Armenian, when he ventures to revolt against Sargon. The
submission of the northern tribes was with difficulty obtained by a long
and fierce struggle, which--so far as one belligerent was concerned
--terminated in a compromise. Ambris was deposed, and his country placed
under an Assyrian governor; Mita consented, after many years of
resistance, to pay a tribute; Urza was defeated, and committed suicide,
but the general pacification of the north was not effected until a
treaty was made with the king of Van, and his good-will purchased by the
cession to him of a considerable tract of country which the Assyrians
had previously taken from Urza.

On the side of Media the resistance offered to the arms of Sargon seems
to have been slighter, and he was consequently able to obtain a far more
complete success. Having rapidly overrun the country, he seized a number
of the towns and "annexed them to Assyria," or, in other words, reduced
a great portion of Media into the form of a province. He also built in
one part of the country a number of fortified posts. He then imposed a
tribute on the natives, consisting entirely of horses, which were
perhaps required to be of the famous Nisaean breed.

After his fourteenth year, B.C. 708, Sargon ceased to lead out his
troops in person, employing instead the services of his generals. In the
year B.C. 707 a disputed succession gave him an opportunity of
interference in Illib, a small country bordering on Susiana. Nibi, one
of the two pretenders to the throne, had applied for aid to
Sutruk-Nakhunta, king of Elam, who held his court at Susa, and had
received the promise of his favor and protection. Upon this, the other
claimant, who was named Ispabara, made application to Sargon, and was
readily received into alliance, Sargon sent to his assistance "seven
captains with seven armies," who engaged the troops of Sutruk-Naklnurta,
defeated them, and established Ispabara on the throne? In the following
year, however, Sutruk-Nakhunta recovered his laurels, invading Assyria
in his turn, and capturing cities which he added to the kingdom of

In all his wars Sargon largely employed the system of whole-sale
deportation. The Israelites were removed from Samaria, and planted
partly in Gozan or Mygdonia, and partly in the cities recently taken
from the Medes. Hamath and Damascus were peopled with captives from
Armenia and other regions of the north. A portion of the Tibareni were
carried captive to Assyria, and Assyrians were established in the
Tibarenian country. Vast numbers of the inhabitants of the Zagros range
were also transported to Assyria; Babylonians, Cuthaeans, Sepharvites,
Arabians, and others, were placed in Samaria; men from the extreme east
(perhaps Media) in Ashdod. The Commukha were removed from the extreme
north to Susiana; and Chaldaeans were brought from the extreme south to
supply their place. Everywhere Sargon changed the abodes of his
subjects, his aim being, as it would seem, to weaken the stronger races
by dispersion, and to destroy the spirit of the weaker ones by severing
at a blow all the links which attach a patriotic people to the country
it has long inhabited. The practice had not been unknown to previous
monarchs, but it had never been employed by any so generally or on so
grand a scale as it was by this king.

From this sketch of Sargon's wars, we may now proceed to a brief
consideration of his great works. The magnificent palace which he
erected at Khorsabad was by far the most important of his constructions.
Compared with the later, and even with the earlier buildings of a
similar kind erected by other kings, it was not remarkable for its size.
But its ornamentation was unsurpassed by that of any Assyrian edifice,
with the single exception of the great palace of Asshur-bani-pal at
Koyunjik. Covered with sculptures, both internally and externally,
generally in two lines, one over the other, and, above this, adorned
with enamelled bricks, arranged in elegant and tasteful patterns;
approached by noble flights of steps and through splendid propylaea;
having the advantage, moreover, of standing by itself, and of not being
interfered with by any other edifice, it had peculiar beauties of its
own, and may be pronounced in many respects the most interesting of the
Assyrian building's. United to this palace was a town enclosed by strong
walls, which formed a square two thousand yards each way. Allowing fifty
square yards to each individual, this space would have been capable of
accommodating 80,000 persons. The town, like the palace, seems to have
been entirely built by Sargon, who imposed on it his own name, an
appellation which it retained beyond the time of the Arab conquest.

It is not easy to understand the exact object of Sargon in building
himself this new residence. Dur-Sargina was not the Windsor or
Versailles of Assyria--a place to which the sovereign could retire for
country air and amusements from the bustle and heat of the metropolis.
It was: as we have said, a town, and a town of considerable size, being
very little lees than half as large as Nineveh itself. It is true that
it possessed the advantage of a nearer vicinity to the mountains than
Nineveh: and had Sargon been, like several of his predecessors, a mighty
hunter, we might have supposed that the greater facility of obtaining
sport in the woods and valleys of the Zagros chain formed the attraction
which led him to prefer the region where he built his town to the banks
of the Tigris. But all the evidence that we possess seems to show that
this monarch was destitute of any love for the chase; and seemingly we
must attribute his change of abode either to mere caprice, or to a
desire to be near the mountains for the sake of cooler water, purer air,
and more varied scenery. It is no doubt true, as M. Oppert observes,
that the royal palace at Nineveh was at this time in a ruinous state;
but it could not have been more difficult or more expensive to repair it
than to construct a new palace, a new mound, and a new town, on a fresh

Previously to the construction of the Khorsabad palace, Sargon resided
at Caleb. He there repaired and renovated the great palace of
Asshur-izir-pal, which had been allowed to fall to decay. At Nineveh he
repaired the walls of the town, which were ruined in many places, and
built a temple to Nebo and Merodach; while in Babylonia he improved the
condition of the embankments, by which the distribution of the waters
was directed and controlled. He appears to have been to a certain extent
a patron of science, since a large number of the Assyrian scientific
tablets are proved by the dates upon then: to have been written in his

The progress of mimetic art under Sargon is not striking but there are
indications of an advance in several branches of industry, and of an
improved taste in design and in ornamentation. Transparent glass seems
now to have been first brought into used and intaglios to have been
first cut upon hard stones. The furniture of the period is greatly
superior in design to any previously represented, and the modelling of
sword-hilts, maces, armlets, and other ornaments is peculiarly good. The
enamelling of bricks was carried under Sargon to its greatest
perfection: and the shape of vases, goblets, and boats shows a marked
improvement upon the works of former times. The advance in animal forms,
traceable in the sculptures of Tiglath-Pileser II., continues: and the
drawing of horses' heads, in particular, leaves little to desire.

After reigning gloriously over Assyria for seventeen years, and for the
last five of them over Babylonia also, Sargon died, leaving his crown to
the most celebrated of all the Assyrian Monarchs, his son Sennacherib,
who began to reign B.C. 705. The long notices which we possess of this
monarch in the books of the Old Testament, his intimate connection with
the Jews, the fact that he was the object of a preternatural exhibition
of the Divine displeasure, and the remarkable circumstance that this
miraculous interposition appears under a thin disguise in the records of
the Greeks, have always attached an interest to his name which the kings
of this remote period and distant region very rarely awaken. It has also
happened, curiously enough, that the recent Mesopotamian researches have
tended to give to Sennacherib a special prominence over other Assyrian
monarchs, more particularly in this country, our great excavator having
devoted his chief efforts to the disinterment of a palace of this king's
construction, which has supplied to our National Collection almost
one-half of its treasures. The result is, that while the other
sovereigns who bore sway in Assyria are generally either wholly unknown,
or float before the mind's eye as dim and shadowy forms, Sennacherib
stands out to our apprehension as a living and breathing man, the
impersonation of all that pride and greatness which we assign to the
Ninevite kings, the living embodiment of Assyrian haughtiness, Assyrian
violence, and Assyrian power. The task of setting forth the life and
actions of this prince, which the course of the history now imposes on
its compiler, if increased in interest, is augmented also in difficulty,
by the grandeur of the ideal figure which has possession of men's minds.

The reign of Sennacherib lasted twenty-four years, from B.C. 705 to B.C.
681. The materials which we possess for his history consist of a record
written in his fifteenth year, describing his military expeditions and
his buildings up to that time; of the Scriptural notices to which
reference has already been made; of some fragments of Polyhistor
preserved by Eusebius; and of the well-known passage of Herodotus which
contains a mention of his name. From these documents we shall be able to
make out in some detail the chief actions of the earlier portion of his
reign, but they fail to supply any account of his later years, unless we
may assign to that portion of his life some facts mentioned by
Polyhistor, to which there is no allusion in the native records.

It seems probable that troubles both abroad and at home greeted the new
reign. The Canon of Ptolemy shows a two years' interregnum at Babylon
(from B.C. 704 to B.C. 702) exactly coinciding with the first two years
of Sennacherib. This would imply a revolt of Babylon from Assyria soon
after his accession, and either a period of anarchy or rapid succession
of pretenders, none of whom held the throne for so long a time as a
twelvemonth. Polyhistor gives us certain details,from which we gather
that there were at least three monarchs in the interval left blank by
the Canon--first, a brother of Sennacherib, whose name is not given;
secondly, a certain Hagisa, who wore the crown only a month; and,
thirdly, Merodach-Baladan, who had escaped from captivity, and, having
murdered Hagisa, resumed the throne of which Sargon had deprived him six
or seven years before. Sennacherib must apparently have been so much
engaged with his domestic affairs that he could not devote his attention
to these Babylonian matters till the second year after his accession. In
B.C. 703 he descended on the lower country and engaged the troops of
Merodach-Baladan, which consisted in part of native Babylonians, in part
of Susianians, sent to his assistance by the king of Elam. Over this
army Sennacherib gained a complete victory near the city of Ibis, after
which he took Babylon, and overran the whole of Chaldaea, plundering
(according to his own account) seventy-six large towns and 420 villages.
Merodach-Baladan once more made his escape, flying probably to Susiana,
where we afterwards find his sons living as refugees. Sennacherib,
before quitting Babylon, appointed as tributary king an Assyrian named
Belipni, who seems to be the Belibus of Ptolemy's Canon, and the Elibus
of Polyhistor. On his return from Babylonia he invaded and ravaged the
territory of the Aramaean tribes on the middle Euphrates--the Tumuna,
Ruhua, Gambulu, Khindaru, and Pukudu (Pekod), the Nabatu or Nabathaeans,
the Hagaranu or Hagarenes, and others, carrying into captivity more than
200,000 of the inhabitants, besides great numbers of horses, camels,
asses, oxen, and sheep.

In the following year, B.C. 702, Sennacherib made war on the tribes in
Zagros, forcing Ispabara, whom Sargon had established in power, to fly
from his country, and conquering many cities and districts, which he
attached to Assyria, and placed under the government of Assyrian

The most important of all the expeditions contained in Sennacherib's
records is that of his fourth year, B.C. 701, in which he attacked
Luliya king of Sidon, and made his first expedition against Hezekiah
king of Judah. Invading Syria with a great host, he made Phoenicia the
first object of his attack. There Luliya--who seems to be the Mullins of
Menander, though certainly not the Elulaeus of Ptolemy's Canon, had
evidently raised the standard of revolt, probably during the early years
of Sennacherib, when domestic troubles seem to have occupied his
attention. Luliya had, apparently, established his dominion over the
greater part of Phoenicia, being lord not only of Sidon, or, as it is
expressed in the inscription, of Sidon the greater and Sidon the less,
but also of Tyre, Ecdippa, Akko, Sarepta, and other cities. However, he
did not venture to await Sennacherib's attack, but, as soon as he found
the expedition was directed against himself, he took to flight, quitting
the continent and retiring to an island in the middle of the
sea--perhaps the island Tyre, or more probably Cyprus. Sennacherib did
not attempt any pursuit, but was content to receive the submission of
the various cities over which Luliya had ruled, and to establish in his
place, as tributary monarch, a prince named Tubal. He then received the
tributes of the other petty monarchs of these parts, among whom are
mentioned Abdilihat king of Avrad. Hurus-milki king of Byblus. Mitinti
king of Ashdod, Puduel king of Beth-Ammon, a king of Moab, a king of
Edom, and (according to some writers) a "Menahem king of Samaria." After
this Sennacherib marched southwards to Ascalon, where the king, Sidka,
resisted him, but was captured, together with his city, his wife, his
children, his brothers, and the other members of his family. Here again
a fresh prince was established in power, while the rebel monarch was
kept prisoner and transported into Assyria. Four towns dependent upon
Ascalon, viz., Razor, Joppa, Beneberak, and Beth Dagon, were soon
afterwards taken and plundered.

Sennacherib now pressed on against Egypt. The Philistine city of Ekron
had not only revolted from Assyria, expelling its king, Path, who wwas
opposed to the rebellion, but had entered into negotiations with
Ethiopia and Egypt, and had obtained a promise of support from them. The
king of Ethiopia was probably the second Shebek (or Sabaco) who is called
Sevechus by Manetho, and is said to have reigned either twelve or
fourteen yeats. The condition of Egypt at the time was peculiar. The
Ethiopian monarch seems to have exercised the real sovereign power: but
native princes were established under him who were allowed the title of
king, and exercised a real though delegated authority over their several
cities and districts. On the call of Ekron both princes and sovereign
had hastened to its assistance, bringing with them an army consisting of
chariots, horsemen, and archers, so numerous that Sennacherib calls it
"a host that could not be numbered." The second great battle between the
Assyrians and the Egyptians took place near a place called Altaku, which
is no doubt the Eltekeh of the Jews, a small town in the vicinity of
Ekron. Again the might of Africa yielded to that of Asia. The Egyptians
and Ethiopians were defeated with great slaughter. Many chariots, with
their drivers, both Egyptian and Ethiopian, fell into the hands of the
conqueror, who also took alive several "sons" of the principal Egyptian
monarch. The immediate fruit of the victory was the fall of Altaku,
which was followed by the capture of Tamna, a neighboring town.
Sennacherib then "went on" to Ekron, which made no resistance, but
opened its gates to the victor. The princes and chiefs who had been
concerned in the revolt he took alive and slew, exposing their bodies on
stakes round the whole circuit of the city walls. Great numbers of
inferior persons who were regarded as guilty of rebellion, were sold as
slaves. Padi, the expelled king, the friend to Assyria, was brought
back, reinstated in his sovereignty, and required to pay a small tribute
as a token of dependence.

The restoration of Padi involved a war with Hezekiah, king of Judah.
When the Ekronites determined to get rid of a king whose Assyrian
proclivities were distasteful to them, instead of putting him to death,
they arrested him, loaded him with chains, and sent him to Hezekiah for
safe keeping. By accepting this charge the Jewish monarch made himself a
partner in their revolt; and it was in part to punish this complicity,
in part to compel him to give up Padi, that Sennacherib, when he had
sufficiently chastised the Ekronite rebels, proceeded to invade Judaea,
Then it was--in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, according to the
present Hebrew text--that "Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against
all the fenced cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah, king of
Judah, sent to the king of Assyria to Lshish, saying, I have offended;
return from me; that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king
of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah, king of Judah, three hundred talents
of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the
silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of
the king's house. At that time did Hezekiah cut off [the gold from] the
doors of the house of the Lord, and [from] the pillars which Hezekiah,
king of Judah, had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria."

Such is the brief account of this expedition and its consequences which
is given us by the author of the Second Book of Kings, who writes from a
religious point of view, and is chiefly concerned at the desecration of
holy things to which the imminent peril of his city and people forced
the Jewish monarch to submit. It is interesting to compare with this
account the narrative of Sennacherib himself, who records the features
of the expedition most important in his eyes, the number of the towns
taken and of the prisoners carried into captivity, the measures employed
to compel submission, and the nature and amount of the spoil which he
took with him to Nineveh.

"Because Hezekiah, king of Judah," says the Assyrian monarch, "would not
submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by
the might of my power I took forty-six of his strong fenced cities; and
of the smaller towns which were scattered about I took and plundered a
countless number. And from these places I captured and carried off as
spoil 200,150 people, old and young, male and female, together with
horses and mares, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless
multitude. And Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital
city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him
in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent
escape.... Then upon this Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of
my arms and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem
with thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver, and
divers treasures, a rich and immense booty.... All these things were
brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government, Hezekiah having
sent them by way of tribute, and as a token of his submission to my

It appears then that Sennacherib, after punishing the people of Ekron,
broke up from before that city, and entering Judaea proceeded towards
Jerusalem, spreading his army over a wide space, and capturing on his
way a vast number of small towns and villages, whose inhabitants he
enslaved and carried off to the number of 200,000. Having reached
Jerusalem, he commenced the siege in the usual way, erecting towers
around the city, from which stones and arrows were discharged against
the defenders of the fortifications, and "casting banks" against the
walls and gates. Jerusalem seems to have been at this time very
imperfectly fortified. The "breaches of the city of David" had recently
been "many;" and the inhabitants had hastily pulled down the houses in
the vicinity of the wall to fortify it. It was felt that the holy place
was in the greatest danger. We may learn from the conduct of the people,
as described by one of themselves, what were the feelings generally of
the cities threatened with destruction by the Assyrian armies. Jerusalem
was at first "full of stirs and tumult;" the people rushed to the
housetops to see if they were indeed invested, and beheld "the choicest
valleys full of chariots, and the horsemen set in array at the gates."
Then came "a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity"--a
day of "breaking down the walls and of crying to the mountains." Amidst
this general alarm and mourning there were, however, found some whom a
wild despair made reckless, and drove to a ghastly and ill-timed
merriment. When God by His judgments gave an evident "call to weeping,
and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth--behold
joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and
drinking wine"--"Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die."
Hezekiah after a time came to the conclusion that resistance would be
vain, and offered to surrender upon terms, an offer which Sennacherib,
seeing the great strength of the place, and perhaps distressed for
water, readily granted. It was agreed that Hezekiah should undertake the
payment of an annual tribute, to consist of thirty talents of gold and
three hundred talents of silver, and that he should further yield up the
chief treasures of the place as a "present" to the Great King. Hezekiah,
in order to obtain at once a sufficient supply of gold, was forced to
strip the walls and pillars of the Temple, which were overlaid in parts
with this precious metal. He yielded up all the silver from the royal
treasury and from the treasury of the Temple; and this amounted to five
hundred talents more than the fixed rate of tribute. In addition to
these sacrifices, the Jewish monarch was required to surrender Padi, his
Ekronite prisoner, and was mulcted in certain portions of his dominions,
which were attached by the conqueror to the territories of neighboring

Sennacherib, after this triumph, returned to Nineveh, but did not remain
long in repose. The course of events summoned him in the ensuing year
B.C. 700--to Babylonia, where Merodach-Baladan, assisted by a certain
Susub, a Chaldaean prince, was again in arms against his authority.
Sennacherib first defeated Susub, and then, directing his march upon
Beth-Yakin, forced Merodach-Baladan once more to quit the country and
betake himself to one of the islands of the Persian Gulf, abandoning to
Sennacherib's mercy his brothers and his other partisans. It would
appear that the Babylonian viceroy Belibus, who three years previously
had been set over the country by Sennacherib, was either actively
implicated in this revolt, or was regarded as having contributed towards
it by a neglect of proper precautions. Sennacherib, on his return from
the sea-coast, superseded him, placing upon the throne his own eldest
son, Asshur-inadi-su, who appears to be the Asordanes of Polyhistor, and
the Aparanadius or Assaranadius of Ptolemy's Canon.

The remaining events of Sennacherib's reign may be arranged in
chronological order without much difficulty, but few of them can be
dated with exactness. We lose at this point the invaluable aid of
Ptolemy's Canon, which contains no notice of any event recorded in
Sennacherib's inscriptions of later date than the appointment of

It is probable in that in the year B.C. 699 Sennacherib conducted his
second expedition into Palestine. Hezekiah, after his enforced
submission two years earlier, had entered into negotiations with the
Egyptians, and looking to receive important succors from this quarter,
had again thrown off his allegiance. Sennacherib, understanding that the
real enemy whom he had to fear on his south-western frontier was not
Judaea, but Egypt, marched his army through Palestine--probably by the
coast route--and without stopping to chastise Jerusalem, pressed
southwards to Libnah and Lachish, which were at the extreme verge of the
Holy Land, and were probably at this tune subject to Egypt. He first
commenced the siege of Lachish with all his power; and while engaged in
this operation, finding that Hezekiah was not alarmed by his proximity,
and did not send in his submission, he detached a body of troops from
Ins main force, and sent it under a Tartan or general, supported by two
high officers of the court--the Rabshakeh or Chief Cupbearer, and the
Rob-saris or Chief Eunuch--to summon the rebellious city to surrender.
Hezekiah was willing to treat, and sent out to the Assyrian camp, which
was pitched just outside the walls, three high officials of his own to
open negotiations. But the Assyrian envoys had not cone to debate or
even to offer terms, but to require the unconditional submission of both
king and people. The Rabshakeh or cupbearer, who was familiar with the
Hebrew language, took the word and delivered his message in insulting
phrase, laughing at the simplicity which could trust in Egypt, and the
superstitious folly which could expect a divine deliverance, and defying
Hezekiah to produce so many as two thousand trained soldiers capable of
serving as cavalry. When requested to use a foreign rather than the
native dialect, lest the people who were upon the walls should hear, the
bold envoy, with an entire disregard of diplomatic forms, raised his
voice and made a direct appeal to the popular fears and hopes thinking
to produce a tumultuary surrender of the place, or at least an outbreak
of which his troops might have taken advantage. His expectations,
however, were disappointed; the people made no response to his appeal,
but listened in profound silence; and the ambassadors, finding that they
could obtain nothing from the fears of either king or people, and
regarding the force that they had brought with them as insufficient for
a siege, returned to their master with the intelligence of their
ill-success. The Assyrian monarch had either taken Lachish or raised its
siege, and was gone on to Libnah, where the envoys found him. On
receiving their report, he determined to make still another effort to
overcome Hezckiah's obstinacy and accordingly he despatched fresh
messengers with a letter to the Jewish king, in which he was reminded of
the fate of various other kingdoms and peoples which had resisted the
Assyrians, and once more urged to submit himself. It was this letter
perhaps a royal autograph--which Hezekiah took into the temple and there
"spread it before the Lord," praying God to "bow down his ear and hear;
to open his eyes and see, and hear the words of Sennacherib, which had
sent to reproach the living God." Upon this Isaiah was commissioned to
declare to his afflicted sovereign that the kings of Assyria were mere
instruments in God's hands to destroy such, nations as He pleased, and
that none of Sennacherib's threats against Jerusalem should be
accomplished. God, Isaiah told him would "put his hook in Sennacherib's
nose, and his bridle in his lips, and turn him back by the way by which
he came." The Lord had said, concerning the king of Assyria, "He shall
not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it
with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the
same shall he return, and shall not come into this city. For I will
defend this city, to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant
David's sake."

Meanwhile it is probable that Sennacherib, having received the
submission of Libnah, had advanced upon Egypt. It was important to crush
an Egyptian army which had been collected against him by a certain
Sethos, one of the many native princes who at this time ruled in the
Lower country before the great Ethiopian monarch Tehrak or Tirhakah, who
was known to be on his march, should effect a junction with the troops
of this minor potentate. Sethos, with his army, was at Pelusium; and
Sennacherib, advancing to attack him, had arrived within sight of the
Egyptian host, and pitched his camp over against the camp of the enemy,
just at the time to when Hezekiah received his letter and made the
prayer to which Isaiah was instructed to respond. The two hosts lay down
at night in their respective stations, the Egyptians and their king full
of anxious alarm, Sennacherib and his Assyrians proudly confident,
intending on the morrow to advance to the combat and repeat the lesson
taught at Raphia and Altaku. But no morrow was to break on the great
mass of those who took their rest in the tents of the Assyrians. The
divine fiat had gone forth. In the night, as they slept, destruction
fell upon them. "The angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp
of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when they
arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." A
miracle, like the destruction of the first-born, had been wrought, but
this time on the enemies of the Egyptians, who naturally ascribed their
deliverance to the interposition of their own gods; and seeing the enemy
in confusion and retreat, pressed hastily after him, distressed his
flying columns, and cut off his stragglers. The Assyrian king returned
home to Nineveh, shorn of his glory, with the shattered remains of his
great host, and cast that proud capital into a state of despair and
grief, which the genius of an AEschylus might have rejoiced to depict,
but which no less powerful pen could adequately portray.

It is difficult to say how soon Assyria recovered from this terrible
blow. The annals of Sennacherib, as might have been expected, omit it
altogether, and represent the Assyrian monarch as engaged in a
continuous series of successful campaigns, which seem to extend
uninterruptedly from his third to his tenth year. It is possible that
while the Assyrian expedition was in progress, under the eye of
Sennacherib himself, a successful war was being conducted by one of his
generals in the mountains of Armenia, and that Sennacherib was thus
enabled, without absolutely falsifying history, to parade as his own
certain victories gained by this leader in the very year of his own
reverse. It is even conceivable that the power of Assyria was not so
injured by the loss of a single great army, as to make it necessary for
her to stop even for one year in the course of her aggressive warfare;
and thus the expeditions of Sennacherib may form an uninterrupted
series, the eight campaigns which are assigned to him occupying eight
consecutive years. But on the other hand it is quite as probable that
there are gaps in the history, some years having been omitted
altogether. The Taylor Cylinder records but eight campaigns, yet it was
certainly written as late as Sennacherib's fifteenth year. It contains
no notice of any events in Sennacherib's first or second year; and it
may consequently make other omissions covering equal or larger
intervals. Thus the destruction of the Assyrian army at Pelusium may
have been followed by a pause of some years' duration in the usual
aggressive expeditions; and it may very probably have encouraged the
Babylonians in the attempt to shake off the Assyrian yoke, which they
certainly made towards the middle of Sennacherib's reign.

But while it appears to be probable that consequences of some importance
followed on the Pelusiac calamity, it is tolerably certain that no such
tremendous results flowed from it as some writers have imagined. The
murder of the disgraced Sennacherib "within fifty-five days" of his
return to Nineveh, seems to be an invention of the Alexandrian Jew who
wrote the Book of Tobit. The total destruction of the empire in
consequence of the blow, is an exaggeration of Josephus, rashly credited
by some moderns. Sennacherib did not die till B.C. 681, seventeen years
after his misfortune; and the Empire suffered so little that we find
Esar-haddon, a few years later, in full possession of all the territory
that any king before him had over held, ruling from Babylonia to Egypt,
or (as he himself expresses it) "from the rising up of the sun to the
going down of the same." Even Sennacherib himself was not prevented by
his calamity from undertaking important wars during the latter part of
his reign. We shall see shortly that he recovered Babylon, chastised
Susiana, and invaded Cilicia, in the course of the seventeen years which
intervened between his flight from Pelusium and his decease. Moreover,
there is evidence that he employed himself during this part of his reign
in the consolidation of the Western provinces, which first appear about
his twelfth year as integral portions of the Empire, furnishing eponyms
in their turn, and thus taking equal rank with the ancient provinces of
Assyria Proper, Adiabene, and Mesopotamia.

The fifth campaign of Sennacherib, according to his own annals, was
partly in a mountainous country which he calls Nipur or Nibur--probably
the most northern portion of the Zagros range where it abuts on Ararat.
He there took a number of small towns, after which he proceeded westward
and contended with a certain Maniya king of Dayan, which was a part of
Taurus bordering on Cilicia. He boasts that he penetrated further into
this region than any king before him; and the boast is confirmed by the
fact that the geographical names which appear are almost entirely new to
us. The expedition was a plundering raid, not an attempt at conquest.
Sennacherib ravaged the country, burnt the towns, and carried away with
him all the valuables, the flocks and herds, and the inhabitants.

After this it appears that for at least three years he was engaged in a
fierce struggle with the combined Babylonians and Susianians. The
troubles recommenced by an attempt of the Chaldaeans of Beth-Yakin to
withdraw themselves from the Assyrian territory, and to transfer their
allegiance to the Elymaean king. Carrying with them their gods and their
treasures, they embarked in their ships, and crossing "the Great Sea of
the Rising Sun"--i.e., the Persian Gulf--landed on the Elamitic coast,
where they were kindly received and allowed to take up their abode. Such
voluntary removals are not uncommon in the East; and they constantly
give rise to complaints and reclamations, which not unfrequently
terminate in an appeal to the arbitrament of the sword. Sennacherib does
not inform us whether he made any attempt to recover his lost subjects
by diplomatic representations at the court of Susa. If he did, they were
unsuccessful; and in order to obtain redress, he was compelled to resort
to force, and to undertake an expedition into the Elamitie territory. It
is remarkable that he determined to make his invasion by sea. Their
frequent wars on the Syrian coasts had by this time familiarized the
Assyrians with the idea, if not with the practice, of navigation; and as
their suzerainty over Phoenicia placed at their disposal a large body of
skilled shipwrights, and a number of the best sailors in the world, it
was natural that they should resolve to employ naval as well as military
force to advance their dominion. We have seen that, as early as the time
of Shalmaneser, the Assyrians ventured themselves in ships, and, in
conjunction with the Phoenicians of the mainland, engaged the vessels of
the Island Tyre. It is probable that the precedent thus set was followed
by later kings, and that both Sargon and Sennacherib had had the
permanent, or occasional services of a fleet on the Mediterranean. But
there was a wide difference between such an employment of the navies
belonging to their subjects on the sea, to which they were accustomed,
and the transfer to the opposite extremity of the empire of the naval
strength hitherto confined to the Mediterranean. This thought--certainly
not an obvious one--seems to have first occurred to Sennacherib. He
conceived the idea of having a navy on both the seas that washed his
dominions; and, possessing on his western coast only an adequate supply
of skilled shipwrights and sailors he resolved on transporting from his
western to his eastern shores such a body of Phoenicians as would enable
him to accomplish his purpose. The shipwrights of Tyre and Sidon were
carried across Mesopotamia to the Tigris, where they constructed for the
Assyrian monarch a fleet of ships like their own galleys, which
descended the river to its mouth, and astonished the populations
bordering on the Persian Gulf with spectacle never before seen in those
waters. Though the Chaldaeans had for centuries navigated this inland
sea, and may have occasionally ventured beyond its limits, yet neither
as sailors nor as ship-builders was their skill to compare with that of
the Phoenicians. The masts and sails, the double tiers of oars, the
sharp beaks of the Phoenician ships, were (it is probable) novelties to
the nations of these parts, who saw now, for the first time, a fleet
debouche from the Tigris, with which their own vessels were quite
incapable of contending.

When his fleet was ready Sennacherib put to sea, and crossed in his
Phoenician ships from the mouth of the Tigris to the tract occupied by
the emigrant Chaldaeans, where he landed and destroyed the newly-built
city, captured the inhabitants, ravaged the neighborhood, and burnt a
number of Susianian towns, finally reembarking with his captives.
Chaldaean and Susianian whom he transported across the gulf to the
Chaldaean coast, and then took with him into Assyria. This whole
expedition seems to have taken the Susianians by surprise. They had
probably expected an invasion by land, and had collected their forces
towards the north-western frontier, so that when the troops of
Sennacherib landed far in their rear, there were no forces in the
neighborhood to resist them. However, the departure of the Assyrians on
an expedition regarded as extremely perilous, was the signal for a
general revolt of the Babylonians, who once more set up a native king in
the person of Susub, and collected an army with which they made ready to
give the Assyrians battle on their return. Perhaps they cherished the
hope that the fleet which had tempted the dangers of an unknown sea
would be seen no more, or expected that, at the best, it would bring
back the shattered remnants of a defeated army. If so, they were
disappointed. The Assyrian troops landed on their coast flushed with
success, and finding the Babylonians in revolt, proceeded to chastise
them; defeated their forces in a great battle; captured their king,
Susub; and when the Susianians came, somewhat tardily, to their succor,
attacked and routed their army. A vast number of prisoners, and among
them Susub himself, were carried off by the victors and conveyed to

Shortly after this successful campaign, possibly in the very next year,
Sennacherib resolved to break the power of Susiana by a great expedition
directed solely against that country. The Susianians had, as already
related, been strong enough in the reign of Sargon to deprive Assyria of
a portion of her territory; and Kudur-Nakhunta, the Elymaean king, still
held two cities, Beth-Kahiri and Raza, which were regarded by
Sennacherib as a part of his paternal inheritance. The first object of
the war was the recovery of these two towns, which were taken without
any difficulty and reattached to the Assyrian Empire. Sennacherib then
pressed on into the heart of Susiana, taking and destroying thirty-four
large cities, whose names he mentions, together with a still greater
number of villages, all of which he gave to the flames. Wasting and
destroying in this way he drew near to Vadakat or Badaca, the second
city of the kingdom, where Kudur-Nakhunta had for the time fixed his
residence. The Elamitic king, hearing of his rapid approach, took
fright, and, hastily quitting Badaca, fled away to a city called
Khidala, at the foot of the mountains, where alone he could feel himself
in safety. Sennacherib then advanced to Badaca, besieged it, and took it
by assault; after which affairs seem to have required his presence at
Nineveh, and, leaving his conquest incomplete, he returned home with a
large booty.

A third campaign in these parts, the most important of all, followed.
Susub, the Chaldaean prince whom Sennacherib had carried off to Assyria,
in the year of his naval expedition escaped from his confinement, and,
returning to Babylon, was once more hailed as king by the inhabitants.
Aware of his inability to maintain himself on the throne against the
will of the Assyrians, unless he were assisted by the arms of a powerful
ally, he resolved to obtain, if possible, the immediate aid of the
neighboring Elamitic monarch. Kolar-Nakhunta, the late antagonist of
Sennacherib, was dead, having survived his disgraceful flight from
Badaca only three months; and Ummanminan, his younger brother, held the
throne. Susub, bent on contracting an alliance with this prince, did not
scruple at an act of sacrilege to obtain his end. He broke open the
treasury of the great temple of Bel at Babylon, and seizing the gold and
silver belonging to the god, sent it as a present to Ummanminan, with an
urgent entreaty that he would instantly collect his troops and march to
his aid. The Elamitic monarch, yielding to a request thus powerfully
backed, and perhaps sufficiently wise to see that the interests of
Susiana required an independent Babylon, set his troops in motion
without any delay, and advanced to the banks of the Tigris. At the same
time a number of the Aramaean tribes on the middle Euphrates, which
Sennacherib had reduced in his third year, revolted, and sent their
forces to swell the army of Susub. A great battle was fought at Khaluli,
a town on the lower Tigris, between the troops of Sennacherib and this
allied host; the combat was long and bloody, but at last the Assyrians
conquered. Susub and his Elamitic ally took to flight and made their
escape. Nebosumiskun, a son of Merodach-Baladan, and many other chiefs
of high rank, were captured. The army was completely routed and broken
up. Babylon submitted, and was severely punished; the fortifications
were destroyed, the temples plundered and burnt, and the images of the
gods broken to pieces. Perhaps the rebel city now received for viceroy
Regibelus or Mesesimordachus, whom the Canon of Ptolemy, which is silent
about Susub, makes contemporary with the middle portion of Sennacherib's

The only other expedition which can be assigned, on important evidence,
to the reign of Sennacherib, is one against Cilicia, in which he is said
to have been opposed by Greeks. According to Abydenus, a Greek fleet
guarded the Cilician shore, which the vessels of Sennacherib engaged and
defeated. Polyhistor seems to say that the Greeks also suffered a defeat
by land in Cilicia itself, after which Sennacherib took possession of
the country, and built Tarsus there on the model of Babylon. The
prominence here given to Greeks by Greek writers is undoubtedly
remarkable, and it throws a certain amount of suspicion over the whole
story. Still, as the Greek element in Cyprus was certainly important at
this time, and as the occupation of Cilicis, by the Assyrians may have
appeared to the Cyprian Greeks to endanger their independence, it is
conceivable that they lent some assistance to the natives of the
country, who were a hardy race, fond of freedom, and never very easily
brought into subjection. The admission af a double defeat makes it
evident that the tale is not the invention of Greek national vanity.
Abydenus and Polyhistor probably derive it from Berosus, who must also
have made the statement that Tarsus was now founded by Sennacherib, and
constructed, after the pattern of Babylon. The occupation of newly
conquered countries, by the establishnient in them of large cities in
which foreign colonists were placed by the conquerors, was practice
commenced by Sargon, which his son is not unlikely to have followed.
Tarsus was always regarded by the Greeks as an Assyrian town; and
although they gave different accounts of the time of its foundation,
their disagreement in this respect does not invalidate their evidence as
to the main fact itself, which is intrinsically probable. The evidence
of Polyhistor and Abydenus as to the date of the foundation,
representing, as it must, the testimony of Berosus upon the point, is to
be preferred; and we may accept it as a fact, beyond all reasonable
doubt, that the native city of St. Paul derived, if not its origin, yet,
at any rate, its later splendor and magnificence, from the antagonist of

That this Cilician war occurred late in the reign of Sennacherib,
appears to follow from the absence of any account of it from his general
annals. These, it is probable, extend no further than his sixteenth
year, B.C. 689, thus leaving blank his last eight years, from B.C. 689
to 681. The defeat of the Greeks, the occupation of Cilicia, and the
founding of Tarsus, may well have fallen into this interval. To the same
time may have belonged Sennacherib's conquest of Edom.

There is reason to suspect that these successes of Sennacherib on the
western limits of his empire were more than counterbalanced by a
contemporaneous loss at the extreme south-east. The Canon of Ptolemy
marks the year B.C. 688 as the first of an interregnum at Babylon which
continues from that date till the accession of Esar-haddon in B.C. 680.
Interregna in this document--[--Greek--] as they are termed--indicate
periods of extreme disturbance, when pretender succeeded to pretender,
or when the country was split up into a number of petty kingdoms. The
Assyrian yoke, in either case, must have been rejected; and Babylonia
must have succeeded at this time in maintaining, for the space of eight
years, a separate and independent existence, albeit troubled and
precarious. The fact that she continued free so long, while she again
succumbed at the very commencement of the reign of Esar-haddon, may lead
us to suspect that she owed this spell of liberty to the increasing
years of the Assyrian monarch, who, as the infirmities of age crept upon
him, felt a disinclination towards distant expeditions.

The military glory of Sennacherib was thus in some degree tarnished;
first, by the terrible disaster which befell his host on the borders of
Egypt; and, secondly, by his failure to maintain the authority which, in
the earlier part of his reign, he had estaldished over Babylon. Still,
notwithstanding these misfortunes, he must be pronounced one of the most
successful of Assyria's warrior kings, and altogether one of the
greatest princes that ever sat on the Assyrian throne. His victories of
Eltekeh and Khaluli seem to leave been among the most important battles
that Assyria ever gained. By the one Egypt and Ethiopia, by the other
Susiana and Babylon, were taught that, even united, they were no match
for the Assyrian hosts. Sennacherib thus wholesomely impressed his most
formidable enemies with the dread of his arms, while at the same time he
enlarged, in various directions, the limits of his dominions. He warred
in regions to which no earlier Assyrian monarch had ever penetrated; and
he adopted modes of warfare on which none of them had previously
ventured. His defeat of a Greek fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean, and
his employment of Phoenicians in the Persian Gulf, show an enterprise
and versatility which we observe in few Orientals. His selection of
Tarsus for the site of a great city indicates a keen appreciation of the
merits of a locality, if he was proud, haughty, and self-confident,
beyond all former Assyrian kings, it would seem to have been because he
felt that he had resources within himself--that he possessed a firm
will, a bold heart, and a fertile invention. Most men would have laid
aside the sword and given themselves wholly to peaceful pursuits, after
such a disaster as that of Pelusium. Sennacherib accepted the judgment
as a warning to attempt no further conquests in those parts, but did not
allow the calamity to reduce him to inaction. He wisely turned his sword
against other enemies, and was rewarded by important successes upon all
his other frontiers.

But if, as a warrior, Sennacherib deserves to be placed in the foremost
rank of the Assyrian kings, as a builder and a patron of art he is still
more eminent. The great palace which he raised at Nineveh surpassed in
size and splendor all earlier edifices, and was never excelled in any
respect except by one later building. The palace of Asshur-bani-pal,
built on the same platform by the grandson of Sennacherib, was, it must
be allowed, more exquisite in its ornamentation; but even this edifice
did not equal the great work of Sennacherib in the number of its
apartments, or the grandeur of its dimensions. Sennacherib's palace
covered an area of above eight acres. It consisted of a number of grand
halls and smaller chambers, arranged round at least three courts or
quadrangles. These courts were respectively 154 feet by 125, 124 feet by
90, and probably a square of about 90 feet. Round the smallest of the
courts were grouped apartments of no great size, which, it may be
suspected, belonged to the seraglio of the king. The seraglio seems to
have been reached through a single narrow passage, leading out of a long
gallery--218 feet by 25--which was approached only through two other
passages, one leading from each of the two main courts. The principal
halls were immediately within the two chief entrances one on the
north-east, the other on the opposite or south-west front of the palace.
Neither of these two rooms has been completely explored: but the one
appears to have been more than 150 and the other was probably 180 feet
in length, while the width of each was a little more than 40 feet.
Besides these two great halls and the grand gallery already described,
the palace contained about twenty rooms of a considerable size, and at
least forty or fifty smaller chambers, mostly square, or nearly so,
opening out of some hall or large apartment. The actual number of the
rooms explored is about sixty; but as in many parts the examination of
the building is still incomplete, we may fairly conjecture that the
entire number was not less than seventy or eighty.

The palace of Sennacherib preserved all the main features of Assyrian
architecture. It was elevated on a platform, eighty or ninety feet above
the plain, artificially constructed, and covered with a pavement of
bricks. It had probably three grand facades--one on the north-east,
where it was ordinarily approached from the town, and the two others on
the south-east and the south-west, where it was carried nearly to the
edge of the platform, and overhung the two streams of the Khosr-su and
the Tigris. Its principal apartment was that which was first entered by
the visitor. All the walls ran in straight lines, and all the angles of
the rooms and passages were right angles. There were more passages in
the building than usual but still the apartments very frequently opened
into one another; and almost one-half of the rooms were passage-rooms.
The doorways were mostly placed without any regard to regularity, seldom
opposite one another, and generally towards the corners of the
apartments. There was the curious feature, common in Assyrian edifices,
of a room being entered from a court, or from another room, by two or
three doorways, which is best explained by supposing that the rank of
the person determined the door by which he might enter. Squared recesses
in the sides of the rooms were common. The thickness of the walls was
great. The apartments, though wider than in other palaces, were still
narrow for their length, never much exceeding forty feet; while the
courts were much better proportioned.

It was in the size and the number of his rooms, in his use of passages,
and in certain features of his ornamentation, that Sennacherib chiefly
differed from former builders. He increased the width of the principal
state apartments by one-third, which seems to imply the employment of
some new mode or material for roofing. In their length he made less
alteration, only advancing from 150 to 180 feet, evidently because he
aimed, not merely at increasing the size of his rooms, but at improving
their proportions. In one instance alone--that of a gallery or
passage-room, leading (apparently) from the more public part of the
palace to the hareem or private apartments--did he exceed this length,
uniting the two portions of the palace by a noble corridor, 218 feet
long by 25 feet wide. Into this corridor he brought passages from the
two public courts, which he also united together by a third passage,
thus greatly facilitating communication between the various blocks of
buildings which composed his vast palatial edifice.

The most striking characteristic of Sennacherib's ornamentation is its
strong and marked realism. It was under Sennacherib that the practice
first obtained of completing each scene by a background, such as
actually existed as the time and place of its occurrence. Mountains,
rocks, trees, roads, rivers, lakes, were regularly portrayed, an attempt
being made to represent the locality, whatever it might be, as
truthfully as the artist's skill and the character of his material
rendered possible. Nor was this endeavor limited to the broad and
general features of the scene only. The wish evidently was to include
all the little accessories which the observant eye of an artist might
have noted if he had made his drawing with the scene before him. The
species of trees is distinguished, in Sennacherib's bas-reliefs;
gardens, fields, ponds, reeds, are carefully represented; wild animals
are introduced, as stags, boars, and antelopes; birds fly from tree to
tree, or stand over their nests feeding the young who stretch up to
them; fish disport themselves in the waters; fishermen ply their craft;
boatmen and agricultural laborers pursue their avocations; the scene is,
as it were, photographed, with all its features--the least and the most
important--equally marked, and without any attempt at selection, or any
effort after artistic unity.

In the same spirit of realism Sennacherib chooses for artistic
representation scenes of a commonplace and everyday character. The
trains of attendants who daily enter his palace with game and locusts
for his dinner, and cakes and fruit for his dessert, appear on the walls
of his passages, exactly as they walked through his courts, bearing the
delicacies in which he delighted. Elsewhere he puts before us the entire
process of carving and transporting a colossal bull, from the first
removal of the huge stone in its rough state from the quarry, to its
final elevation on a palace mound as part of the great gateway of a
royal residence. We see the trackers dragging the rough block, supported
on a low flat-bottomed boat, along the course of a river, disposed in
gangs, and working under taskmasters who use their rods upon the
slightest provocation. The whole scene must be represented, and so the
trackers are all there, to the number of three hundred, costumed
according to their nations, and each delineated with as much care as it
he were not the exact image of ninety-nine others. We then observe the
block transferred to land, and carved into the rough semblance of a
bull, in which form it is placed on a rude sledge and conveyed along
level ground by gangs of laborers, arranged nearly as before, to the
foot of the mound at whose top it has to be placed. The construction of
the mound is most elaborately represented. Brickmakers are seen moulding
the bricks at its base, while workmen, with baskets at their backs, full
of earth, bricks, stones, or rubbish, toil up the ascent--for the mound
is already half raised--and empty their burdens out upon the summit. The
bull, still lying on its sledge, is then drawn up an inclined plane to
the top by four gangs of laborers, in the presence of the monarch and
his attendants. After this the carving is completed, and the colossus,
having been raised into an upright position, is conveyed along the
surface of the platform to the exact site which it is to occupy. This
portion of the operation has been represented in one of the
illustrations in an earlier part of this volume. From the representation
there given the reader may form a notion of the minuteness and
elaboration of this entire series of bas-reliefs.

Besides constructing this new palace at Nineveh, Sennacherib seems also
to have restored the ancient residence of the kings at the sane place, a
building which will probably be found whenever the mound of Nebbi-Yunus
is submitted to careful examination. He confined the Tigris to its
channel by an embankment of bricks. He constructed a number of canals or
aqueducts for the purpose of bringing good water to the capital. He
improved the defences of Nineveh, erecting towers of a vast size at some
of the gates. And, finally, he built a temple to the god Nergal at
Tarbisi (now Sherif khan), about three miles from Nineveh up the Tigris.

In the construction of these great works he made use chiefly, of the
forced labor with which his triumphant expeditions into foreign
countries had so abundantly supplied him. Chaldaeans, Aramaeans,
Armenians, Cilicianns  and probably also Egyptians, Ethiopians,
Elamites, and Jews, were employed by thousands in the formation of the
vast mounds, in the transport and elevation of the colossal bulls, in
the moulding of the bricks, and the erection of the walls of the various
edifices, in the excavation of the canals, and the construction of the
embankments. They wrought in gangs, each gang having a costume peculiar
to it, which probably marked its nation. Over each was placed a number
of taskmasters, armed with staves, who urged on the work with blows, and
severely punished any neglect or remissness. Assyrian foremen had the
general direction of the works, and were entrusted with all such
portions as required skill or judgment. The forced laborers often worked
in fetters, which were sometimes supported by a bar fastened to the
waist, while sometimes they consisted merely of shackles round the
ankles. The king himself often witnessed the labors, standing in his
chariot, which on these occasions was drawn by some of his attendants.

The Assyrian monuments throw but little light on the circumstances which
led to the assassination of Sennacherib; and we are reduced to
conjecture the causes of so strange an event. Our various sources of
information make it clear that he had a large family of sons. The eldest
of them, Asshurinadi-su, had been entrusted by Sennacherib with the
government of Babylon and might reasonably have expected to succeed him
on the throne of Assyria; but it is probable that he died before his
father, either by a natural death, or by violence, during one of the
many Babylonian revolts. It may be suspected that Sennacherib had a
second son, of whose name Nergal was the first element; and it is
certain that he had three others, Adrammelech (or Ardumuzanes),
Sharezer, and Esar-haddon. Perhaps, upon the death of Asshur-inadi-su,
disputes arose about the succession. Adrammelech and Sharezer, anxious
to obtain the throne for themselves, plotted against the life of their
father, and having slain him in a temple as he was worshipping,
proceeded further to remove their brother Nergilus, who claimed the
crown and wore it for a brief space after Sennacherib's death. Having
murdered him, they expected to obtain the throne without further
difficulty; but Esar-haddon, who at the time commanded the army which
watched the Armenian frontier, now came forward, assumed the title of
King, and prepared to march upon Nineveh. It was winter, and the
inclemency of the weather precluded immediate movement. For some months
probably the two assassins were recognized as monarchs at the capital,
while the northern army regarded Esar-haddon as the rightful successor
of his father. Thus died the great Sennacherib, a victim to the ambition
of his sons.

It was a sad end to a reign which, on the whole, had been so glorious;
and it was a sign that the empire was now verging on that decline which
sooner or later overtakes all kingdoms, and indeed all things sublunary.
Against plots without, arising from the ambition of subjects who see, or
think they see, at any particular juncture an opportunity of seizing the
great prize of supreme dominion, it is impossible, even in the most
vigorous empire, to provide any complete security. But during the period
of vigor, harmony within the palace, and confidence in each other
inspires and unites all the members of the royal house. When discord has
once entered inside the gates, when the family no longer holds together,
when suspicion and jealousy have replaced the trust and affection of a
happier time, the empire has passed into the declining stage, and has
already begun the descent which conducts, by quick or slow degrees, to
destruction. The murder of Sennacherib, if it was, as perhaps it was, a
judgment on the individual, was, at least equally, a judgment on the
nation. When, in an absolute monarchy, the palace becomes the scene of
the worst crimes, the doom of the kingdom is sealed--it totters to its
fall--and requires but a touch from without to collapse into a heap of

Esar-haddon, the son and successor of Sennacherib, is proved by the
Assyrian Canon, to have ascended the throne of Assyria in B.C. 681--the
year immediately previous to that which the Canon of Ptolemy makes his
first year in Babylon, viz., B.C. 680. He was succeeded by his son
Asshur-bani-pal, or Sardanapalus, in B.C. 668, and thus held the crown
no more than thirteen years. Esar-haddon's inscriptions show that he was
engaged for some time after his accession in a war with his
half-brothers, who, at the head of a large body of troops, disputed his
right to the crown. Esar-haddon marched from the Armenian frontier,
where (as already observed) he was stationed at the time of his father's
death, against this army, defeated it in the country of Khanirabbat
(north-west of Nineveh), and proceeding to the capital, was universally
acknowledged king. According to Abydenus, Adrammelech fell in the
battle; but better authorities state that both he and his brother,
Sharezer, escaped into Armenia, where they were kindly treated by the
reigning monarch, who gave them lands, which long continued in the
possession of their posterity.

The chief record which we possess of Esar-haddon is a cylinder
inscription, existing in duplicate, which describes about nine
campaigns, and may probably have been composed in or about his tenth
year. A memorial which he set up at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kolb, and a
cylinder of his son's, add some important information with respect to
the latter part of his reign. One or two notices in the Old Testament
connect him with the history of the Jews. And Abydenus, besides the
passage already quoted, has an allusion to some of his foreign
conquests. Such are the chief materials from which the modern inquirer
has to reconstruct the history of this great king.

It appears that the first expedition of Esar-haddon was into Phoenicia.
Abdi-Milkut king of Sidon, and Sandu-arra king of the adjoining part of
Lebanon, had formed an alliance and revolted from the Assyrians,
probably during the troubles which ensued on Sennacherib's death.
Esar-haddon attacked Sidon first, and soon took the city; but
Aladi-Milkut made his escape to an island--Aradus or Cyprus--where,
perhaps, he thought himself secure. Esar-haddon, however, determined on
pursuit. He traversed the sea "like a fish," and made Abdi-Milkut
prisoner; after which he turned his arms against Sandu-arra, attacked
him in the fastnesses of his mountains, defeated his troops, and
possessed himself of his person. The rebellion of the two captive kings
was punished by their execution; the walls of Sidon were destroyed; its
inhabitants, and those of the whole tract of coast in the neighborhood,
were carried off into Assyria, and thence scattered among the provinces;
a new town was built, which was named after Esarhaddon, and was intended
to take the place of Sidon as the chief city of these parts; and
colonists were brought from Chaldaea and Susiana to occupy the new
capital and the adjoining region. An Assyrian governor was appointed to
administer the conquered province.

Esar-haddon's next campaign seems to have been in Armenia. He took a
city called Arza**, which, he says, was in the neighborhood of Muzr, and
carried off the inhabitants, together with a number of mountain animals,
placing the former in a position "beyond the eastern gate of Nineveh."
At the same time he received the submission of Tiuspa the Cimmerian.

His third campaign was in Cilicia and the adjoining regions. The
Cilicians, whom Sennacherib had so recently subdued, reasserted their
independence at his death, and allied themselves with the Tibareni, or
people of Tubal, who possess at the high mountain tract about the
junction of Amaans and Taurus. Esar-haddon inflicted a defeat on the
Cilicians, and then invaded the mountain region, where he took
twenty-one towns and a larger number of villages, all of which he
plundered and burnt. The inhabitants he carried away captive, as usual
but he made no attempt to hold the ravaged districts by means of new
cities or fresh colonists.

This expedition was followed by one or two petty wars in the north-west
and the north-east after which Esar-haddon, probably about his sixth
year B.C. 675, made an expedition into Chaldaea. It appears that a son
of Merodach-Baladan, Nebo-zirzi-sidi by name, had re-established himself
on the Chaldaean coast, by the help of the Susianians; while his
brother, Nahid-Marduk, had thought it more prudent to court the favor of
the great Assyrian monarch, and had quitted his refuge in Susiana to
present himself before Esar-haddon's foot-stool at Nineveh. This
judicious step had all the success that he could have expected or
desired. Esar-haddon, having conquered the ill-judging Nebo-zirzi-sidi,
made over to the more clear-sighted Nahid-Marduk the whole of the
maritime region that had been ruled by his brother. At the same time the
Assyrian monarch deposed a Chaldaean prince who had established his
authority over a small town in the neighborhood of Babylon, and set up
another in his place, thus pursuing the same system of division in
Babylonia which we shall hereafter find that he pursued in Egypt.

Esar-haddon after this was engaged in a war with Edom. He there took a
city which bore the same name as the country--a city previously, he
tells us, taken by his father--and transported the inhabitants into
Assyria, at the same time carrying off certain images of the Edomite
gods. Hereupon the king, who was named Hazael, sent an embassy to
Nineveh, to make submission and offer presents, while at the same time
he supplicated Isar-haddon to restore his gods and allow them to be
conveyed back to their own proper country. Esarhaddon granted the
request, and restored the images to the envoy; but as a compensation for
this boon, he demanded an increase of the annual tribute, which was
augmented in consequence by sixty-five camels. He also nominated to the
Edomite throne, either in succession or in joint sovereignty, a female
named Tabua, who had been born and brought up in his own palace.

The expedition next mentioned on Esar-haddon's principal cylinder is one
presenting some difficulty. The scene of it is a country called Bazu,
which is said to be "remote, on the extreme confines of the earth, on
the other side of the desert." It was reached by traversing it hundred
and forty _farsakhs_ (490 miles) of sandy desert, then twenty _farsakhs_
(70 miles) of fertile land, and beyond that a stony region. None of the
kings of Assyria, down to the time of Esar-haddon, had ever penetrated
so far. Bazu lay beyond Khazu, which was the name of the stony tract,
and Bazu had for its chief town a city called Yedih, which was under the
rule of a king named Laile. It is thought, from the combinaqon of these
names, and from the general description of the region--of its remoteness
and of the way in which it was reached--that it was probably the
district of Arabia beyond Nedjif which lies along the Jebel Shammer, and
corresponds closely with the modern Arab kingdom of Hira. Esar-haddon
boasts that he marched into the middle of the territory, that he slew
eight of its sovereigns, and carried into Assyria their gods, their
treasures, and their subjects; and that, though Laile escaped him, he
too lost his gods, which were seized and conveyed to Nineveh. Then
Laile, like the Idumaean monarch above mentioned, felt it necessary to
humble himself. He went in person to the Assyrian capital, prostrated
himself before the royal footstool, and entreated for the restoration of
his gods; which Esar-haddon consented to give back, but solely on the
condition that Laile became thenceforth one of his tributaries.

If this expedition was really carried into the quarter here supposed,
Esar-haddon performed a feat never paralleled in history, excepting by
Augustus and Nushirvan. He led an army across the deserts which
everywhere guard Arabia on the land side, and penetrated to the more
fertile tracts beyond them, a region of settled inhabitants and of
cities. He there took and spoiled several towns; and he returned to his
own country without suffering disaster. Considering the physical perils
of the desert itself, and the warlike character of its inhabitants, whom
no conqueror has ever really subdued, this was a most remarkable
success. The dangers of the simoom may have been exaggerated, and the
total aridity of the northern region may have been overstated by many
writers; but the difficulty of carrying water and provisions for a large
army, and the peril of a plunge into the wilderness with a small one,
can scarcely be stated in too strong terms, and have proved sufficient
to deter most Eastern conquerors from even the thoughts of an Arabian
expedition. Alexander would, perhaps, had he lived, have attempted an
invasion from the side of the Persian Gulf; and Trajan actually
succeeded in bringing under the Roman yoke an outlying portion of the
country--the district between Damascus and the Red Sea; but Arabia has
been deeply penetrated thrice only in the history of the world; and
Esar-haddon is the sole monarch who ever ventured to conduct in person
such an attack.

From the arid regions of the great peninsula Esar-haddon proceeded,
probably in another year, to the invasion of the marsh-country on the
Euphrates, where the Aramaean tribe of the Gambulu had their
habitations, dwelling (he tells us) "like fish, in the midst of the
waters"--doubtless much after the fashion of the modern Khuzeyl and
Affej Arabs, the latter of whom inhabit nearly the same tract. The
sheikh of this tribe had revolted; but on the approach of the Assyrians
he submitted himself, bringing in person the arrears of his tribute and
a present of buffaloes, whereby he sought to propitiate the wrath of his
suzerain. Esar-haddon states that he forgave him; that he strengthened
his capital with fresh works, placed a garrison in it, and made it a
stronghold to protect the territory against the attacks of the

The last expedition mentioned on the cylinder, which seems not to have
been conducted by the king in person, was against the country of Bikni,
or Bikan, one of the more remote regions of Media--perhaps Azerbijan. No
Assyrian monarch before Esar-haddon had ever invaded this region. It was
under the government of a number of chiefs--the Arian character of whose
names is unmistakable--each of whom ruled over his own town and the
adjacent district. Esar-haddon seized two of the chiefs and carried them
off to Assyria, whereupon several others made their submission,
consenting to pay a tribute and to divide their authority with Assyrian

It is probable that these various expeditions occupied Esarhaddon from
B.C. 681, the year of his accession, to B.C. 671, when it is likely that
they were recorded on the existing cylinder. The expeditions are ten in
number, directed against countries remote from one another; and each may
well have occupied an entire year. There would thus remain only three
more years of the king's reign, after the termination of the chief
native record, during which his history has to be learnt from other
sources. Into this space falls, almost certainly, the greatest of
Esar-haddon's exploits the conquest of Egypt; and, probably, one of the
most interesting episodes of his reign--the punishment and pardon of
Manasseh. With the consideration of these two events the military
history of his reign will terminate.

The conquest of Egypt by Esar-haddon, though concealed from Herodotus,
and not known even to Diodorus, was no secret to the more learned
Greeks, who probably found an account of the expedition in the great
work of Berosus. All that we know of its circumstances is derived from
an imperfect transcript of the Nahr-el-Kelb tablet, and a short notice
in the annals of Esar-haddon's son and successor, Asshur-bani-pal, who
finds it necessary to make an allusion to the former doings of his
father in Egypt, in order to render intelligible the state of affairs
when he himself invades the country. According to these notices, it
would appear that Esar-haddon, having entered Egypt with a large army,
probably in B.C. 670, gained a great battle over the forces of Tirhakah
in the lower country, and took Memphis, the city where the Ethiopian
held his court, after which he proceeded southwards, and conquered the
whole of the Nile valley as far as the southern boundary of the Theban
district. Thebes itself was taken and Tirhakah retreated into Ethiopia.
Esar-haddon thus became master of all Egypt, at least as far as Thebes
or Diospolis, the No or No-Amon of scripture. He then broke up the
country into twenty governments, appointing in each town a ruler who
bore the title of king, but placing all the others to a certain extent
under the authority of the prince who reigned at Memphis. This was Neco,
the father of Psammetichus (Psamatik I.)--a native Egyptian of whom we
have some mention both in Herodotus and in the fragments of Manetho. The
remaining rulers were likewise, for the most part, native Egyptians:
though in two or three instances the governments appear to have been
committed to Assyrian officers. Esar-haddon, having made these
arrangements, and having set up his tablet at the mouth of the
Nahr-el-Kelb side by side with that of Rameses II., returned to his own
country, and proceeded to introduce sphinxes into the ornamentation of
his palaces, while, at the same time, he attached to his former titles
an additional clause, in which he declared himself to be "king of the
kings of Egypt, and conqueror of Ethiopia."

The revolt of Manasseh king of Judah may have happened shortly before or
shortly after the conquest of Egypt. It was not regarded as of
sufficient importance to call for the personal intervention of the
Assyrian monarch. The "captains of the host of the king of Assyria" were
entrusted with the task of Manasseh's subjection; and, proceeding into
Judaea, they "took him, and bound him with chains, and carried him to
Babylon," where Esar-haddon had built himself a palace, and often held
his court. The Great king at first treated his prisoner severely; and
the "affliction" which he thus suffered is said to have broken his pride
and caused him to humble himself before God, and to repent of all the
cruelties and idolatries which had brought this judgment upon him. Then
God "was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him
back again to Jerusalem into his kingdom." The crime of defection was
overlooked by the Assyrian monarch, Manasseh was pardoned, and sent back
to Jerusalem: where he was allowed to resume the reins of government,
but on the condition, if we may judge by the usual practice of the
Assyrians in such cases, of paying an increased tribute.

It may have been in connection with this restoration of Manasseh to his
throne--an act of doubtful policy from an Assyrian point of view--that
Esar-haddon determined on a project by which the hold of Assyria upon
Palestine was considerably strengthened. Sargon, as has been already
observed when he removed the Israelites from Sumaria, supplied their
place by colonists from Babylon, Cutha, Sippara, Ava, Hamath, and
Arabia; this planting a foreign garrison in the region which would be
likely to preserve its fidelity. Esar-haddon resolved to strengthen this
element. He gathered men from Babylon, Orchoe, Susa, Elymais, Persia,
and other neighboring regions, and entrusting them to an officer of high
rank--"the great and noble Asnapper"--had them conveyed to Palestine and
settled over the whole country, which until this time must have been
somewhat thinly peopled. The restoration of Manasseh, and the
augmentation of this foreign element in Palestine, are thus portions,
but counterbalancing portions, of one scheme--a scheme, the sole object
of which was the pacification of the empire by whatever means, gentle or
severe, seemed best calculated to effect the purpose.

The last years of Esar-haddon were, to some extent, clouded with
disaster. He appears to have fallen ill in B.C. 669: and the knowledge
of this fact at once produced revolution in Egypt. Tirhakah issued from
his Ethiopian fastnesses, descended the valley of the Nile, expelled the
kings set up by Esar-haddon, and re-established his authority over the
whole country. Esar-haddon, unable to take the field, resolved to resign
the cares of the empire to his eldest son, Asshur-bani-pal, and to
retire into a secondary position. Relinquishing the crown of Assyria,
and retaining that of Babylon only, he had Asshur-bani-pal proclaimed
king of Assyria, and retired to the southern capital. There he appears
to have died in B.C. 668, or early in B.C. 667, leaving Asshur-bani-pal
sole sovereign of the entire empire.

Of the architecture of Esar-haddon, and of the state of the arts
generally in his time, it is difficult to speak positively. Though he
appears to have been one of the most indefatigable constructors of great
works that Assyria produced, having erected during the short period over
which his reign extended no fewer than four palaces and above thirty
temples, yet it happens unfortunately that we are not as yet in a
condition to pronounce a decisive judgment either on the plan of his
buildings or on the merits of their ornamentation of his three great
palaces, which were situated at Babylon, Calah, and Nineveh, one
only--that at Calah or Nimrud has been to any large extent explored.
Even in this case the exploration was far from complete, and the ground
plan of his palace is still very defective. But this is not the worst.
The palace itself had never been finished; its ornamentation had
scarcely been begun; and the little of this that was original had been
so damaged by a furious conflagration, that it perished almost at the
moment of discovery. We are thus reduced to judge of the sculptures of
Esar-haddon by the reports of those who saw them ere they fell to
pieces, and by one or two drawings, while we have to form our conception
of his buildings from a half-explored fragment of a half-finished
palace, which was moreover destroyed by fire before completion.

The palace of Esar-haddon at Calah was built at the south-western corner
of the Nimrud mound, abutting towards the west on the Tigris, and
towards the south on the valley formed by the Shor-Derreh torrent. It
faced northwards, and was entered on this side from the open space of
the platform, through a portal guarded by two winged bulls of the
ordinary character. The visitor on entering found himself in a large
court, 280 feet by 100, bounded on the north side by a mere wall, but on
the other three sides surrounded by buildings. The main building was
opposite to him, and was entered from the court by two portals, one
directly facing the great northern gate of the court, and the other a
little to the left hand, the former guarded by colossal bulls, the
latter merely reveted with slabs. These portals both led into the same
room--the room already described in an earlier page of this work--which
was designed on the most magnificent scale of all the Assyrian
apartments, but was so broken up through the inability of the architect
to roof in a wide space without abundant support, that, practically, it
formed rather a suite of four moderate-sized chambers than a single
grand hall. The plan of this apartment will be seen by referring to
[PLATE XLIII., Fig. 2.] Viewed as a single apartment, the room was 165
feet in length by 62 feet in width, and thus contained an area of 10,230
square feet, a space nearly half as large again as that covered by the
greatest of the halls of Sennacherib, which was 7200 feet. Viewed as a
suite of chambers, the rooms may be described as two long and narrow
halls running parallel to one another, and communicating by a grand
doorway in the middle, with two smaller chambers placed at the two ends,
running at right angles to the principal ones. The small chambers were
62 feet long, and respectively 19 feet and 23 feet wide; the larger ones
were 110 feet long, with a width respectively of 20 feet and 28 feet.
The inner of the two long parallel chambers communicated by a grand
doorway, guarded by sphinxes and colossal lions, either with a small
court or with a large chamber extending to the southern edge of the
mound; and the two end rooms communicated with smaller apartments in the
same direction. The buildings to the right and left of the great court
seem to have been entirely separate from those at its southern end: to
the left they were wholly unexamined; on the right some explorations
were conducted which gave the usual result of several long narrow
apartments, with perhaps one or two passages. The extent of the palace
westward, southward, and eastward is uncertain: eastward it was
unexplored; southward and westward the mound had been eaten into by the
Tigris and the Shor-Derreh torrent.

The walls of Esar-haddon's palace were composed, in the usual way, of
sun-dried bricks, reveted with slabs of alabaster. Instead, however, of
quarrying fresh alabaster slabs for the purpose, the king preferred to
make use of those which were already on the summit of the mound,
covering the walls of the north-western and central palaces, which, no
doubt, had fallen into decay. His workmen tore down these sculptured
monuments from their original position, and transferring them to the
site of the new palace, arranged them so as to cover the freshly-raised
walls, generally placing the carved side against the crude brick, and
leaving the back exposed to receive fresh sculptures, but sometimes
exposing the old sculpture, which, however, in such cases, it was
probably intended to remove by the chisel. This process was still going
on, when either Esarhaddon died and the works were stopped, or the
palace was destroyed by fire. Scarcely any of the new sculptures had
been executed. The only exceptions were the bulls and lions at the
various portals, a few reliefs in close proximity to them, and some
complete figures of crouching sphinxes, which had been placed as
ornaments, and possibly also as the bases of supports, within the span
of the two widest doorways. There was nothing very remarkable about the
bulls; the lions were spirited, and more true to nature than usual; the
sphinxes were curious, being Egyptian in idea, but thoroughly
Assyrianized, having the horned cap common on bulls, the Assyrian
arrangement of hair, Assyrian earrings, and wings nearly like those of
the ordinary winged bull or lion. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig. 2.] The figures
near the lions were mythic, and exhibited somewhat more than usual
grotesqueness, as we learn from the representations of them given by Mr.

While the evidence of the actual monuments as to the character of
Esar-haddon's buildings and their ornamentation is thus scanty, it
happens, curiously, that the Inscriptions furnish a particularly
elaborate and detailed account of them. It appears, from the principal
record of the time, that the temples which Esar-haddon built in Assyria
and Babylonia--thirty-six in number--were richly adorned with plates of
silver and gold, which made then (in the words of the Inscription) "as
splendid as the day." His palace at Nineveh, a building situated on the
mound called Nebbi Yunus, was, we are told, erected upon the site of a
former palace of the kings of Assyria. Preparations for its construction
were made, as for the great buildings of Solomon by the collection of
materials, iii wood, stone, and metal, beforehand: these were furnished
by the Phoenician, Syrian, and Cyprian monarchs, who sent to Nineveh for
the purpose great beams of cedar, cypress, and ebony, stone statues, and
various works in metals of different kinds. The palace itself is said to
have exceeded in size all buildings of former kings. It was roofed with
carved beams of cedar-wood; it was in part supported by columns of
cypress wood, ornamented and strengthened with rings of silver and of
iron; the portals were guarded by stone bulls and lions; and the gates
were made of ebony and cypress ornamented with iron, silver, and ivory.
There was, of course, the usual adornment of the walls by means of
sculptured slabs and enamelled bricks. If the prejudices of the
Mahometans against the possible disturbance of their dead, and against
the violation by infidel hands of the supposed tomb of Jonah, should
hereafter be dispelled, and excavations be freely allowed in the Nebbi
Yunus mound, we may look to obtain very precious relics of Assyrian art
from the palace of Esar-haddon, now lying buried beneath the village or
the tombs which share between them this most important site.

Of Esar-haddon's Babylonian palace nothing is at present known, beyond
the mere fact of its existence; but if the mounds at Hillah should ever
be thoroughly explored, we may expect to recover at least its
ground-plan, if not its sculptures and other ornaments. The Sherif Khan
palace has been examined pretty completely. It was very much inferior to
the ordinary palatial edifices of the Assyrians, being in fact only a
house which Esar-haddon built as a dwelling for his eldest son during
his own lifetime. Like the more imposing buildings of this king, it was
probably unfinished at his decease. At any rate its remains add nothing
to our knowledge of the state of art in Esar-haddon's time, or to our
estimate of that monarch's genius as a builder.

After a reign of thirteen years, Esar-haddon, "king of Assyria, Babylon,
Egypt, Meroe, and Ethiopia," as he styles himself in his later
inscriptions, died, leaving his crown to his eldest son,
Asshur-bani-pal, whom he had already associated in the government.
Asshur-bani-pal ascended the throne in B.C. 668, or very early in B.C.
667; and his first act seems to have been to appoint as viceroy of
Babylon his younger brother Saul-Mugina, who appears as Sam-mughes in
Polyhistor, and as Saosduchinus in the Canon of Ptolemy.

The first war in which Asshur-bani-pal engaged was most probably with
Egypt. Late in the reign of Esar-haddon, Tirhakah (as already stated
619) had descended from the upper country, had recovered Thebes,
Memphis, and most of the other Egyptian cities, and expelled from them
the princes and governors appointed by Esar-haddon upon his conquest.
Asshur-bani-pal, shortly after his accession, collected his forces, and
marched through Syria into Egypt, where he defeated the army sent
against him by Tirhakah in a great battle near the city of Kar-banit.
Tirhakah, who was at Memphis, hearing of the disaster that had befallen
his army, abandoned Lower Egypt, and sailed up the Nile to Thebes,
whither the forces of Asshur-bani-pal followed him; but the nimble
Ethiopian retreated still further up the Nile valley, leaving all Egypt
from Thebes downwards to his adversary. Asshur-bani-pal, upon this,
reinstated in their former governments the various princes and rulers
whom his lather had originally appointed, and whom Tirhakah had
expelled; and then, having rested and refreshed his army by a short stay
in Thebes, returned victoriously by way of Syria to Nineveh.

Scarcely was he departed when intrigues began for the restoration of the
Ethiopian power. Neco and some of the other Egyptian governors, whom
Asshur-bani-pal had just reinstated in their posts, deserted the
Assyrian side and went over to the Ethiopians. Attempts were made to
suppress the incipient revolt by the governors who continued faithful;
Neco and one or two of his copartners in guilt were seized and sent in
chains to Assyria; and some of the cities chiefly implicated, as Sais,
Mendes, and Tanis (Zoan), were punished. But the efforts at suppression
failed. Tirliakah entered Upper Egypt, and having established himself at
Thebes, threatened to extend his authority once more over the whole of
the Nilotic valley. Thereupon Asshur-bani-pal, having forgiven Neco,
sent him, accompanied by a strong force, into Egypt; and Tirhakah was
again compelled to quit the lower country and retire to Upper Egypt,
where he soon after died. His crown fell to his step-son, Urdamane, who
is perhaps the Rud-Amun of the Hieroglyphics. This prince was at first
very successful. He descended the Nile valley in force, defeated the
Assyrians near Memphis, drove them to take refuge within its walls,
besieged and took the city, and recovered Lower Egypt. Upon this
Asshur-bani-pal, who was in the city of Asshur when he heard the news,
went in person against his new adversary, who retreated as he advanced,
flying from Memphis to Thebes, and from Thebes to a city called Kipkip,
far up the course of the Nile. Asshur-bani-pal and his army now entered
Thebes, and sacked it. The plunder which was taken, consisting of gold,
silver, precious stones, dyed garments, captives male and female, ivory,
ebony, tame animals (such as monkeys and elephants) brought up in the
palace, obelisks, etc., was carried off and conveyed to Nineveh.
Governors were once more set up in the several cities, Psammetichus
being probably among them; and, hostages having been taken to secure
their fidelity, the Assyrian monarch returned home with his booty.

Between his first and second expedition into Egypt, Asshur-bani-pal was
engaged in warlike operations on the Syrian coast, and in transactions
of a different character with Cilicia. Returning from Egypt, he made an
attack on Tyre, whose king, Baal, had offended him, and having compelled
him to submit, exacted from him a large tribute, which he sent away to
Nineveh. About the same time Asshur-bani-pal entered into communication
with the Cilician monarch, whose name is not given, and took to wife a
daughter of that princely house, which was already connected with the
royal race of the Sargonids.

Shortly after his second Egyptian expedition, Asshur-bani-pal seems to
have invaded Asia Minor. Crossing the Taurus range, he penetrated to a
region never before visited by any Assyrian monarch; and, having reduced
various towns in these parts and returned to Nineveh, he received an
embassy of a very unusual character. "Gyges, king of Lydia," he tells
us, "a country on the sea-coast, a remote place, of which the kings his
ancestors had never even heard the name, had formerly learnt in a dream
the fame of his empire, and had sent officers to his presence to perform
homage on his behalf." He now sent a second time to Asshur-bani-pal, and
told him that since his submission he had been able to defeat the
Cimmerians, who had formerly ravaged his land with impunity; and he
begged his acceptance of two Cimmerian chiefs, whom he had taken in
battle, together with other presents, which Asshur-bani-pal regarded as
a "tribute." About the same time the Assyrian monarch repulsed the
attack of the "king of Kharbat," on a district of Babylonia, and, having
taken Kharbat, transported its inhabitants to Egypt.

After thus displaying his power and extending his dominions towards the
south-west, the north-west, and the south-east, Asshur-bani-pal turned
his arms towards the north-east, and invaded Minni, or Persarmenia--the
mountain-country about Lakes Van and Urumiyeh. Akhsheri, the king,
having lost his capital, Izirtu, and several other cities, was murdered
by his subjects; and his son, Vahalli, found himself compelled to make
submission, and sent an embassy to Nineveh to do homage, with tribute,
presents, and hostages. Asshur-bani-pal received the envoys graciously,
pardoned Vahalli, and maintained him upon the throne, but forced him to
pay a heavy tribute. He also in this expedition conquered a tract called
Paddiri, which former kings of Assyria had severed from Minni and made
independent, but which Asshur-bani-pal now attached to his own empire,
and placed under an Assyrian governor.

A war of some duration followed with Elam, or Susiana, the flames of
which at one time extended over almost the whole empire. This war was
caused by a transfer of allegiance. Certain tribes, pressed by a famine,
had passed from Susiana into the territories of Asshur-bani-pal, and
were allowed to settle there; but when, the famine being over, they
wished to return to their former country, Asshur-bani-pal would not
consent to their withdrawal. Urtaki, the Susianian king, took umbrage at
this refusal, and, determining to revenge himself, commenced hostilities
by an invasion of Babylonia. Belubager, king of the important Aramaean
tribe of the Gambulu, assisted him and Saul-Mugina, in alarm, sent to
his brother for protection. An Assyrian army was dispatched to his aid,
before which Urtaki fled. He was, however, pursued, caught and defeated.
With some difficulty he escaped and returned to Susa, where within a
year he died, without having made any fresh effort to injure or annoy
his antagonist.

His death was a signal for a domestic revolution which proved very
advantageous to the Assyrians. Urtaki had driven his older brother,
Umman-aldas, from the throne, and, passing over the rights of his sons,
had assumed the supreme authority. At his death, his younger brother,
Temin-Umman, seized the crown, disregarding not only the rights of the
sons of Umman-aldas, but likewise those of the sons of Urtaki. As the
pretensions of those princes were dangerous, Temin-Umman endeavored to
seize their persons with the intention of putting them to death; but
they, having timely warning of their danger, fled; and, escaping to
Nineveh with their relations and adherents, put themselves under the
protection of Asshur-bani-pal. It thus happened that in the expedition
which now followed, Asshur-bani-pal had a party which favored him in
Elam itself. Temin-Umman, however, aware of this internal weakness, made
great efforts to compensate for it by the number of his foreign allies.
Two descendants of Merodach-Baladan, who had principalities upon the
coast of the Persian Gulf, two mountain chiefs, one of them a
blood-connection of the Assyrian crown, two sons of Belu-bagar, sheikh
of the Gambulu, and several other inferior chieftains, are mentioned as
bringing their troops to his assistance, and fighting in his cause
against the Assyrians. All, however, was in vain. Asshur-bani-pal
defeated the allies in several engagements, and finally took Temin-Umman
prisoner, executed him, and exposed his head over one of the gates of
Nineveh. He then divided Elam between two of the sons of Urrtaki,
Umman-ibi and Tammarit, establishing the former in Susa, and the latter
at a town called Khidal in Eastern Susiana. Great severities were
exercised upon the various princes and nobles who had been captured. A
son of Temin-Umman was executed with his father. Several grand-sons of
Merodach-Baladin suffered mutilation, A Chaldaean prince and one of the
chieftains of the Clambulu had their tongues torn out by the roots.
Another of the Gambulu chiefs was decapitated. Two of the Temin-Umman's
principal officers were chained and flayed. Palaya, a grandson of
Merodach-Baladan, was mutilated. Asshur-bani-pal evidently hoped to
strike terror into his enemies by these cruel, and now unusual,
punishments, which, being inflicted for the most part upon royal
personages, must have made a profound impression on the king-reverencing

The impression made was, however, one of horror rather than of alarm.
Scarcely had the Assyrians returned to Nineveh, when fresh troubles
broke out. Saul-Mugina, discontented with his position, which was one of
complete dependence upon his brother, rebelled, and, declaring himself
king of Babylon in his own right, sought and obtained a number of
important allies among his neighbors. Umman-ibi, though he had received
his crown from Asshur-bani-pal, joined him, seduced by a gift of
treasure from the various Babylonian temples. Vaiteha, a powerful
Arabian prince, and Nebo-belsumi, a surviving grandson of
Merodach-Baladan, came into the confederacy; and Saul-Mugina had fair
grounds for expecting that he would be able to maintain his
independence. But civil discord--the curse of Elam at this period--once
more showed itself, and blighted all these fair prospects. Tammarit, the
brother of Ummman-ibi, finding that the latter had sent the flower of
his army into Babylonia, marched against him, defeated and slew him, and
became king of all Elam. Maintaining, however, the policy of his
brother, he entered into alliance with Saul-Mugina, and proceeded to put
himself at the head of the Elamitic contingent, which was serving in
Babylonia. Here a just Nemesis overtook him. Taking advantage of his
absence, a certain Inda-bibi (or Inda-bigas), a mountain-chief from the
fastnesses of Luristan, raised a revolt in Elam, and succeeded in
seating himself upon the throne. The army in Babylonia declining to
maintain the cause of Tammarit, he was forced to fly and conceal
himself, while the Elamitic troops returned home. Saul-Mugina then lost
the most important of his allies at the moment of his greatest danger
for his brother had at length marched against him at the head of an
immense army, and was overrunning his northern provinces. Without the
Elamites it was impossible for Babylon to contend with Assyria in the
Open field.

All that Saul-Mugina could do was to defend his towns, which
Asshur-bani-pal besieged and took, one after another. The rebel fell
into his brother's hands, and suffered a punishment more terrible than
any that the relentless conqueror had as yet inflicted on his captured
enemies. Others had been mutilated, or beheaded; Saul-Mugina was burnt.
The tie of blood, which was held to have aggravated the guilt of his
rebellion, was not allowed to be pleaded in mitigation of his sentence.

A pause of some years' duration now occurred. The relations between
Assyria and Susiana were unfriendly, but not actually hostile. Inda-bibi
had given refuge to Nebo-bel-sumi at the time of Saul Mugina's
discomfiture, and Asshur-bani-pal repeatedly but vainly demanded the
surrender of the refugee. He did not, however, attempt to enforce his
demand by an appeal to arms; and Inda-bibi might have retained his
kingdom in peace, had not domestic troubles arisen to disturb him. He
was conspired against by the commander of his archers, a second
Umman-aldas, who killed him and occupied his throne. Many pretenders, at
the same time, arose in different parts of the country; and
Asshur-bani-pal, learning how Elam was distracted, determined on a fresh
effort to conquer it. He renewed his demand for the surrender of
Nebo-bel-sumi, who would have been given up had he not committed
suicide. Not content with this success, he (ab. B.C. 645) invaded Elam,
besieged and took Bit-Inibi, which had been strongly fortified, and
drove Umunan-aldas out of the plain country into the mountains. Susa and
Badaca, together with twenty-four other cities, fell into his power; and
Western Elam being thus at his disposal, he placed it under the
government of Tammarit, who, after his flight from Babylonia, had become
a refugee at the Assyrian court. Umman-aldas retained the sovereignty of
Eastern Elam.

But it was not long before fresh changes occurred. Tammarit, finding
himself little more than puppet-king in the hands of the Assyrians,
formed a plot to massacre all the foreign troops left to garrison this
country, and so to make himself an independent monarch. His intentions,
however, were discovered, and the plot failed. The Assyrians seized him,
put him in bonds, and sent him to Nineveh. Western Elam passed under
purely military rule, and suffered, it is probable, extreme severities.
Under these circumstances, Umman-aldas took heart, and made ready, in
the fastnesses to which he had fled, for another and a final effort.
Having levied a vast army, he, in the spring of the next year, made
himself once more master of Bit-Imbi, and, establishing himself there,
prepared to resist the Assyrians. Their forces shortly appeared; and,
unable to hold the place against their assaults, Umman-aldas evacuated
it with his troops, and fought a retreating fight all the way back to
Susa, holding the various strong towns and rivers in succession.
Gallant, however, as was his resistance it proved ineffectual. The lines
of defence which he chose were forced, one after another; and finally
both Susa and Badaca were taken, and the country once more lay at
Asshur-bani-pal's mercy. All the towns made their submission.
Asshur-bani-pal, burning with anger at their revolt, plundered the
capital of its treasures, and gave the other cities up to be spoiled by
his soldiers for the space of a month and twenty-three days. He then
formally abolished Susianian independence, and attached the country as a
province to the Assyrian empire. Thus ended the Susianian war, after it
had lasted, with brief interruptions, for the space of (probably) twelve

The full occupation given to the Assyrian arms by this long struggle
encouraged revolt in other quarters. It was probably about the time when
Asshur-bani-pal was engaged in the thick of the contest with Umman-ibi
and Saul-Mugina that Psammetichus declared himself independent in Egypt,
and commenced a war against the princes who remained faithful to their
Assyrian suzerain. Gyges, too, in the far north-west, took the
opportunity to break with the formidable power with which he had
recently thought it prudent to curry favor, and sent aid to the Egyptian
rebel, which rendered him effective service. Egypt freed herself from
the Assyrian yoke, and entered on the prosperous period which is known
as that of the twenty-sixth (Saite) dynasty. Gyges was less fortunate.
Assailed shortly by a terrible enemy, which swept with resistless force
over his whole land, he lost his life in the struggle. Assyria was well
and quickly avenged; and Ardys, the new monarch, hastened to resume the
deferential attitude toward Asshur-bani-pal which his father had
unwisely relinquished.

Asshur-bani-pal's next important war was against the Arabs. Some of the
desert tribes had, as already mentioned, lent assistance to Saul-Mugina
during his revolt against his suzerain, and it was to punish this
audacity that Asshur-bani-pal undertook his expedition. His principal
enemy was a certain Vaiteha, who had for allies Natun, or Nathan, king
of the Nabathivans, and Ammu-ladin, king of Kedar. The fighting seems to
have extended along the whole country bordering the Euphrates valley
from the Persian Gulf to Syria, and thence southwards by Damascus to
Petra. Petra itself, Muhab (or Moab), Hudumimtukrab (Edom), Zaharri
(perhaps Zoar), and several other cities were taken by the Assyrians.
The final battle was fought at a place called Kutkhuruna, in he
mountains near Damascus, where the Arabians were defeated with great
slaughter, and the two chief, who had led the Arab contingent to the
assistance of Saul-Mugina were made prisoners by the Assyrians.
Asshur-bani-pal had them conducted to Nineveh, and there publicly

The annals of Asshur-bani-pal here terminate. They exhibit him to us as
a warrior more enterprising and more powerful than any of his
predecessors, and as one who enlarged in almost every direction the
previous limits of the empire. In Egypt he completed the work which his
father Esar-haddon had begun, and established the Assyrian dominion for
some years, not only at Sais and at Memphis, but at Thebes. In Asia
Minor he carried the Assyrian arms far beyond any former king,
conquering large tracts which had never before been invaded, and
extending the reputation of his greatness to the extreme western limits
of the continent. Against his northern neighbors he contended with
unusual success, and towards the close of his reign he reckoned, not
only the Minni, but the Urarda, or true Armenians, among his
tributaries. Towards the south, he added to the empire the great country
of Susiana, never subdued until his reign: and on the west, he signally
chastised if he did not actually conquer, the Arabs.

To his military ardor Asshur-bani-pal added a passionate addiction to
the pleasure of the chase. Lion-hunting was his especial delight.
Sometimes along the banks of reedy streams, sometimes borne mid-channel
in his pleasure galley, he sought the king of beasts in his native
haunts, roused him by means of hounds and beaters from his lair, and
despatched him with his unerring arrows. Sometimes he enjoyed the sport
in his own park of paradise. Large and fierce beasts, brought from a
distance, were placed in traps about the grounds, and on his approach
were set free from their confinement, while he drove among them in his
chariot, letting fly his shafts at each with a strong and steady hand,
which rarely failed to attain the mark it aimed at. Aided only by two or
three attendants armed with spears, he would encounter the terrific
spring of the bolder beasts, who rushed frantically at the royal
marksman and endeavored to tear him from the chariot-board. Sometimes he
would even voluntarily quit this vantage-ground, and, engaging with the
brutes on the same level, without the protection of armor, in his
everyday dress, with a mere fillet upon his head, he would dare a close
combat, and smite them with sword or spear through the heart.

When the supply of lions fell short, or when he was satiated with this
kind of sport. Asshur-bani-pal would vary his occupation, and content
himself with game of an inferior description. Wild bulls were probably
no longer found in Assyria or the adjacent countries, so that he was
precluded from the sport which, next to the chase of the lion occupied
and delighted the earlier monarchs. He could indulge, however, freely in
the chase of the wild ass still to this day a habitant of the
Mesopotamian region; and he would hunt the stag, the hind, and the ibex
or wild goat. In these tamer kinds of sport he seems, however, to have
indulged only occasionally--as a light relaxation scarcely worthy of a
great king.

Asshur-bani-pal is the only one of the Assyrian monarchs to whom we can
ascribe a real taste for learning and literature. The other kings were
content to leave behind them some records of the events of their reigns,
inscribed on cylinders, slabs, bulls, or lions, and a few dedicatory
inscriptions, addresses to the gods whom they especially worshipped.
Asshur-bani-pal's literary tastes were far more varied--indeed they were
all-embracing. It seems to have been under his direction that the vast
collection of clay tablets--a sort of Royal Library--was made at
Nineveh, from which the British Museum has derived perhaps the most
valuable of its treasures. Comparative vocabularies, lists of deities
and their epithets, chronological lists of kings and eponyms, records of
astronomical observations, grammars, histories, scientific works of
various kinds, seems to have been composed in the reign, and probably at
the bidding of this prince, who devoted to their preservation certain
chambers in the palace of his grandfather, where they were found by Mr.
Layard. The clay tablets on which they were inscribed lay here in such
multitudes in some instances entire, but more commonly broken into
fragments--that they filled the chambers _to the height of a foot or
more from the floor_. Mr. Layard observes with justice that "the
documents thus discovered at Nineveh probably exceed [in amount of
writing] all that has yet been afforded by the monuments of Egypt." They
have yielded of late years some most interesting results, and will
probably long continue to be a mine of almost inexhaustible wealth to
the cuneiform scholar.

As a builder, Asshur-bani-pal aspired to rival, if not even to excel,
the greatest of the monarchs who had preceded him. His palace was built
on the mound of Koyunjik, within a few hundred yards of the magnificent
erection of his grandfather, with which he was evidently not afraid to
challenge comparison. It was built on a plan unlike any adopted by
former kings. The main building consisted of three arms branching from
at common centre, and thus in its general shape resembled a gigantic T.
The central point was reached by a long ascending gallery lined with
sculptures, which led from a gateway, with rooms attached, at a corner
of the great court, first a distance of 190 feet in a direction parallel
to the top bar of the T, and then a distance of 80 feet in a direction
at right angles to this, which brought it down exactly to the central
point whence the arms branched. The entire building was thus a sort of
cross, with one long arm projecting from the top towards the left or
west. The principal apartments were in the lower limb of the cross. Here
was a grand hall, running nearly the whole length of the limb, at least
145 feet long by 28 feet broad, opening towards the east on a great
court, paved chiefly with the exquisite patterned slabs of which a
specimen has already been given, and communicating towards the west with
a number of smaller rooms, and through them with a second court, which
looked towards the south-west and the south. The next largest apartment
was in the right or eastern arm of the cross. It was a hall 108 feet
long by 24 feet wide, divided by a broad doorway in which were two
pillar-bases, into a square antechamber of 24 feet each way, and an
inner apartment about 80 feet in length. Neither of the two arms of the
cross was completely explored; and it is uncertain whether they extended
to the extreme edge of the eastern and western courts, thus dividing
each of there into two; or whether they only reached into the courts a
certain distance. Assuming the latter view as the more probable, the two
courts would have measured respectively 310 and 330 feet from the
north-west to the south-east, while they must have been from 230 to 250
feet in the opposite direction. From the comparative privacy of the
buildings, and from the character of the sculptures, it appears probable
that the left or western arm of the cross formed the hareem of the

The most remarkable feature in the great palace of Asshur-bani-pal was
the beauty and elaborate character of the ornamentation. The courts were
paved with large slabs elegantly patterned. The doorways had sometimes
arched tops beautifully adorned with rosettes, lotuses, etc. The
chambers and passages were throughout lined with alabaster slabs,
bearing reliefs designed with wonderful spirit, and executed with the
most extraordinary minuteness and delicacy. It was here that were found
all those exquisite hunting scenes which have furnished its most
interesting illustrations to the present history. Here, too, were the
representations of the private life of the monarch, of the trees and
flowers of the palace garden, of the royal galley with its two banks of
oars, of the libation over four dead lions, of the temple with pillars
supported on lions, and of various bands of musicians, some of which
have been already given. Combined with these peaceful scenes and others
of a similar character, as particularly a long train, with game, nets,
and dogs, returning from the chase, which formed the adornment of a
portion of the ascending passage, were a number of views of sieges and
battles, representing the wars of the monarch in Susiana and elsewhere.
Reliefs of a character very similar to these last were found by Mr.
Layard in certain chambers of the palace of Sennacherib, which had
received their ornamentation from Asshur-bani-pal. They were remarkable
for the unusual number and small size of the figures, for the variety
and spirit of the attitudes, and for the careful finish of all the
little details of the scenes represented upon them. Deficient in
grouping, and altogether destitute of any artistic unity, they yet give
probably the best representation that has come down to us of the
confused _melee_ of an Assyrian battle, showing us at one view, as they
do, all the various phases of the flight and pursuit, the capture and
treatment of the prisoners, the gathering of the spoil, and the cutting
off the heads of the slain. These reliefs form now a portion of our
National Collection. A good idea may be formed of them from Mr. Layard's
Second Series of Monuments, where they form the subject of five
elaborate engravings.

Besides his own great palace at Koyun-jik, and his additions to the
palace of his grandfather at the same place, Asshur-bani-pal certainly
constructed some building, or buildings, at Nebbi Yunus, where slabs
inscribed with his name and an account of his wars have been found. If
we may regard him as the real monarch whom the Greeks generally intended
by their Sardanapalus, we may say that, according to some classical
authors, he was the builder of the city of Tarsus in Cilicia, and
likewise of the neighboring city of Anchialus; though writers of more
authority tells us that Tarsus, at any rate, was built by Sennacherib.
It seems further to have been very generally believed by the Greeks that
the tomb of Sardanapalus was in this neighborhood. They describe it as a
monument of some height, crowned by a statue of the monarch, who
appeared to be in the act of snapping his fingers. On the stone base was
an inscription in Assyrian characters, of which they believed the sense
to run as follows:--"Sardanapalus, son of Anacyndaraxes, built Tarsus and
Anchialus in one day. Do thou, O stranger, eat, and drink, and amuse
thyself; for all the rest of human life is not worth so much as
_this_"--"this" meaning the sound which the king was supposed to be
making with his fingers. It appears probable that there was some figure
of this kind, with an Assyrian inscription below it, near Anchialus;
but, as we can scarcely suppose that the Greeks could read the cuneiform
writing, the presumed translation of the inscription would seem to be
valueless. Indeed, the very different versions of the legend which are
given by different writers sufficiently indicate that they had no real
knowledge of its purport. We may conjecture that the monument was in
reality a stele containing the king in an arched frame, with the right
hand raised above the left, which is the ordinary attitude, and an
inscription below commemorating the occasion of its erection. Whether it
was really set up by this king or by one of his predecessors, we cannot
say. The Greeks, who seem to have known more of Asshur-bani-pal than of
any other Assyrian monarch, in consequence of his war in Asia Minor and
his relations with Gyges and Ardys, are not unlikely to have given his
name to any Assyrian monument which they found in these parts, whether
in the local tradition it was regarded as his work or no.

Such, then, are the traditions of the Greeks with respect to this
monarch. The stories told by Ctesias of a king, to whom he gives the
same name, and repeated from him by later writers, are probably not
intended to have any reference to Asshur-bani-pal, the son of
Esar-haddon, but rather refer to his successor, the last king. Even
Ctesias could scarcely have ventured to depict to his countrymen the
great Asshur-bani-pal, the vanquisher of Tirhakah, the subduer of the
tribes beyond the Taurus, the powerful and warlike monarch whose
friendship was courted by the rich and prosperous Gyges, king of Lydia,
as a mere voluptuary, who never put his foot outside the palace gates,
but dwelt in the seraglio, doing woman's work, and often dressed as a
woman. The character of Asshur-bani-pal stands really in the strongest
contrast to the description--be it a portrait, or be it a mere sketch
from fancy--which Ctesias gives of his Sardanapalus. Asshur-bani-pal,
was beyond a doubt one of Assyria's greatest kings. He subdued Egypt and
Susiana; he held quiet possession of the kingdom of Babylon; he carried
his arms deep into Armenia; he led his troops across the Taurus, and
subdued the barbarous tribes of Asia Minor. When he was not engaged in
important wars, he chiefly occupied himself in the chase of the lion,
and in the construction and ornamentation of temples and palaces. His
glory was well known to the Greeks. He was no doubt one of the "two
kings called Sardanapalus," celebrated by Hellanicus; he must have been
"the warlike Sardanapalus" of Cailisthenes; Herodotus spoke of his great
wealth; and Aristophanes used his name as a by-word for magnificence. In
his reign the Assyrian dominions reached their greatest extent, Assyrian
art culminated, and the empire seemed likely to extend itself over the
whole of the East. It was then, indeed, that Assyria most completely
answered the description of the Prophet--"The Assyrian was a cedar in
Lebanon, with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of high
stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him
great; the deep set him up on high with her rivers running about his
plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field.
Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and
his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long, because of the
multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of the heaven
made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the
beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt
_all great nations_. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of
his branches for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden
of God could not hide him; the fir-trees were not like his boughs; and
the chestnut-trees were not like his branches; _nor any tree in the
garden of God was like unto him in his beauty_."

In one respect, however, Assyria, it is to be feared, had made but
little advance beyond the spirit of a comparatively barbarous time. The
"lion" still "tore in pieces for his whelps, and strangled for his
lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin."
Advancing civilization, more abundant literature, improved art, had not
softened the tempers of the Assyrians, nor rendered them more tender and
compassionate in their treatment of captured enemies. Sennacherib and
Esar-haddon show, indeed, in this respect, some superiority to former
kings. They frequently spared their prisoners, even when rebels, and
seem seldom to have had recourse to extreme punishments. But
Asshur-bani-pal reverted to the antique system of executions,
mutilations, and tortures. We see on his bas-reliefs the unresisting
enemy thrust through with the spear, the tongue torn from the mouth of
the captive accused of blasphemy, the rebel king beheaded on the field
of battle, and the prisoner brought to execution with the head of a
friend or brother hung round his neck. We see the scourgcrs preceding
the king as his regular attendants, with their whips passed through
their girdles; we behold the operation of flaying performed either upon
living or dead men; we observe those who are about to be executed first
struck on the face by the executioner's fist. Altogether we seem to have
evidence, not of mere severity, which may sometimes be a necessary or
even a merciful policy, but of a barbarous cruelty, such as could not
fail to harden and brutalize alike those who witnessed and those who
inflicted it. Nineveh, it is plain, still deserved the epithet of "a
bloody city," or "a city of bloods." Asshur-bani-pal was harsh,
vindictive, unsparing, careless of human suffering--nay, glorying in his
shame, he not merely practised cruelties, but handed the record of them
down to posterity by representing them in all their horrors upon his
palace walls.

It has been generally supposed that Asshur-bani-pal died about B.C. 648
or 647, in which case he would have continued to the end of his life a
prosperous and mighty king. But recent discoveries render it probable
that his reign was extended to a much greater length--that, in fact, he
is to be identified with the Cinneladanus of Ptolemy's Canon, who held
the throne of Babylon from B.C. 647 to 626. If this be so, we must place
in the later years of the reign of Asshur-bani-pal the commencement of
Assyria's decline--the change whereby she passed from the assailer to
the assailed, from the undisputed primacy of Western Asia to a doubtful
and precarious position.

This change was owing, in the first instance, to the rise upon her
borders of an important military power in the centralized monarchy,
established, about B.C. 640, in the neighboring territory of Media.

The Medes had, it is probable, been for some time growing in strength,
owing to the recent arrival in their country of fresh immigrants from
the far East. Discarding the old system of separate government and
village autonomy, they had joined together and placed themselves under a
single monarch; and about the year B.C. 634, when Asshur-bani-pal had
been king for thirty-four years, they felt themselves sufficiently
strong to undertake an expedition against Nineveh. Their first attack,
however, failed utterly. Phraortes, or whoever may have been the real
leader of the invading army, was completely defeated by the Assyrians;
his forces were cut to pieces, and he himself was among the slain.
Still, the very fact that the Medes could now take the offensive and
attack Assyria was novel and alarming; it showed a new condition of
things in these parts, and foreboded no good to the power which was
evidently on the decline and in danger of losing its preponderance. An
enterprising warrior would doubtless have followed up the defeat of the
invader by attacking him in his own country before he could recover from
the severe blow dealt him; but the aged Assyrian monarch appears to have
been content with repelling his foe, and made no effort to retaliate.
Cgaxares, the successor of the slain Median king, effected at his
leisure such arrangements as he thought necessary before repeating his
predecessor's attempt. When they were completed--perhaps in B.C. 632--he
led his troops into Assyria, defeated the Assyrian forces in the field,
and, following up his advantage, appeared before Nineveh and closely
invested the town. Nineveh would perhaps have fallen in this year; but
suddenly and unexpectedly a strange event recalled the Median monarch to
his own country, where a danger threatened him previously unknown in
Western Asia.

When at the present day we take a general survey of the world's past
history, we see that, by a species of fatality--by a law, that is, whose
workings we cannot trace--there issue from time to time out of the
frozen bosons of the North vast hordes of uncouth savages--brave,
hungry, countless--who swarm into the fairer southern regions
determinedly, irresistibly; like locusts winging their flight into a
green land. How such multitudes come to be propagated in countries where
life is with difficulty sustained, we do not know; why the impulse
suddenly seizes them to quit their old haunts and move steadily in a
given direction, we cannot say: but we see that the phenomenon is one of
constant recurrence, and we therefore now scarcely regard it as being
curious or strange at all. In Asia. Cimmerians, Scythians, Parthians,
Mongols, Turks; in Europe, Gauls, Goths, Huns, Avars, Vandals,
Burgundians, Lombards, Bulgarians, have successively illustrated the
law, and made us familiar with its operation. But there was a time in
history before the law had come into force; and its very existence must
have been then unsuspected. Even since it began to operate, it has so
often undergone prolonged suspension, that the wisest may be excused if,
under such circumstances, they cease to bear it in mind, and are as much
startled when a fresh illustration of it occurs, as if the like had
never happened before. Probably there is seldom an occasion of its
coming into play which does not take men more or less by surprise, and
rivet their attention by its seeming strangeness and real

If Western Asia had ever, in the remote ages before the Assyrian
monarchy was established, been subject to invasions of this
character--which is not improbable--at any rate so long a period had
elapsed since the latest of them, that in the reigns of Asshur-pani-pal
and Cyaxares they were wholly forgotten and the South reposed in happy
unconsciousness of a danger which might at any time have burst upon it,
had the Providence which governs the world so willed. The Asiatic
steppes had long teemed with a nomadic population, of a war-like temper,
and but slightly attached to its homes, which ignorance of its own
strength and of the weakness and wealth of its neighbors had alone
prevented from troubling the great empires of the South. Geographic
difficulties had at once prolonged the period of Ignorance, and acted as
obstructions, if ever the idea arose of pushing exploring parties into
the southern regions; the Caucasus, the Caspian, the sandy deserts of
Khiva and Kharesm, and the great central Asiatic mountain-chains,
forming barriers which naturally restrained the northern hordes from
progressing in this direction. But a time had now arrived when these
causes were no longer to operate; the line of demarcation which had so
long separated North and South was to be crossed; the flood-gates were
to be opened, and the stream of northern emigration was to pour itself
in a resistless torrent over the fair and fertile regions from which it
had hitherto been barred out. Perhaps population had increased beyond
all former precedent; perhaps a spirit of enterprise had arisen;
possibly some slight accident--the exploration of a hunter hard pressed
for food, the chattering tongue of a merchant, the invitation of a
traitor--may have dispelled the ignorance of earlier times, and brought
to the knowledge of the hardy North the fact that beyond the mountains
and the seas, which they had always regarded as the extreme limit of the
world, there lay a rich prey inviting the coming of the spoiler.

The condition of the northern barbarians, less than two hundred years
after this time, has been graphically portrayed by two of the most
observant of the Greeks, who themselves visited the Steppe country to
learn the character and customs of the people. Where civilization is
unknown, changes are so slow and slight, that we may reasonably regard
the descriptions of Herodotus and Hippocrates, though drawn in the fifth
century before our era, as applying, in all their main points, to the
same race two hundred years earlier. These writers describe the
Scythians as a people coarse and gross in their habits, with large
fleshy bodies, loose joints, soft swollen bellies, and scanty hair. They
never washed themselves; their nearest approach to ablution was a
vapor-bath, or the application of a paste to their bodies which left
them glossy on its removal. They lived either in wagons, or in felt
tents of a simple and rude construction; and subsisted on mare's milk
and cheese, to which the boiled flesh of horses and cattle was added, as
a rare delicacy, occasionally. In war their customs were very barbarous.
The Scythian who slew an enemy in battle immediately proceeded to drink
his blood. He then cut off the head, which he exhibited to his king in
order to obtain his share of the spoil; after which he stripped the
scalp from the skull and hung it on his bridle-rein as a trophy.
Sometimes he flayed his dead enemy's right arm and hand, and used the
skin as a covering for his quiver. The upper portion of the skull he
commonly made into a drinking-cup. The greater part of each day he spent
on horseback, in attendance on the huge herds of cattle which he
pastured. His favorite weapon was the bow, which he used as he rode,
shooting his arrows with great precision. He generally carried, besides
his bow and arrows, a short spear or javelin, and sometimes bore also a
short sword or a battleaxe. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig. 3.]

The nation of the Scythians comprised within it a number of distinct
tribes. At the head of all was a royal tribe, corresponding to the
"Golden Horde" of the Mongols, which was braver and more numerous than
any other, and regarded all the remaining tribes in the light of slaves.
To this belonged the families of the kings, who ruled by hereditary
right, and seem to have exercised a very considerable authority. We
often hear of several kings as bearing rule at the same time; but there
is generally some indication of disparity, from which we gather that--in
times of danger at any rate--the supreme power was really always lodged
in the hands of a single man.

The religion of the Scythians was remarkable, and partook of the
barbarity which characterized most of their customs. They worshipped the
Sun and Moon, Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and a god whom Herodotus calls
Hercules. But their principal religious observance was the worship of
the naked sword. The country was parcelled out into districts, and in
every district was a huge pile of brushwood, serving as a temple to the
neighborhood, at the top of which was planted an antique sword or
scimitar. On a stated day in each year solemn sacrifices, human and
animal, were offered at these shrines; and the warm blood of the victims
was carried up from below and poured upon the weapon. The human
victims--prisoners taken in war--were hewn to pieces at the foot of the
mound, and their limbs wildly tossed on high by the votaries, who then
retired, leaving the bloody fragments where they chanced to fall. The
Scythians seem to have had no priest caste; but they believed in
divination; and the diviners formed a distinct class which possessed
important powers. They were sent for whenever the king was ill, to
declare the cause of his illness, which they usually attributed to the
fact that an individual, whom they named, had sworn falsely by the Royal
Hearth. Those accused in this way, if found guilty by several bodies of
diviners, were beheaded for the offence, and their original accusers
received their property. It must have been important to keep on good
terms with persons who wielded such a power as this.

Such were the most striking customs of the Scythian people, or at any
rate of the Scythians of Herodotus, who were the dominant race over a
large portion of the Steppe country. Coarse and repulsive in their
appearance, fierce in their tempers, savage in their habits, not
individually very brave, but powerful by their numbers, and by a mode of
warfare which was difficult to meet, and in which long use had given
them great expertness, they were an enemy who might well strike alarm
even into a nation so strong and warlike as the Medes. Pouring through
the passes of the Caucasus--whence coming or what intending none
knew--horde after horde of Scythians blackened the rich plains of the
South. On they came, as before observed, like a flight of locusts,
countless, irresistible--swarming into Iberia and Upper Media--finding
the land before them a garden, and leaving it behind them a howling
wilderness. Neither age nor sex would be spared. The inhabitants of the
open country and of the villages, if they did not make their escape to
high mountain tops or other strongholds, would be ruthlessly massacred
by the invaders, or at best, forced to become their slaves. The crops
would be consumed, the herds swept off or destroyed, the villages and
homesteads burnt, the whole country made a scene of desolation. Their
ravages would resemble those of the Huns when they poured into Italy, or
of the Bulgarians when they overran the fairest provinces of the
Byzantine Empire. In most instances the strongly fortified towns would
resist them, unless they had patience to sit down before their walls and
by a prolonged blockade to starve them into submission. Sometimes,
before things reached this point, they might consent to receive a
tribute and to retire. At other times, convinced that by perseverance
they would reap a rich reward, they may have remained till the besieged
city fell, when there must have ensued an indescribable scene of havoc,
rapine, and bloodshed. According to the broad expression of Herodotus,
the Scythians were masters of the whole of Western Asia from the
Caucasus to the borders of Egypt for the space of twenty-eight years.
This statement is doubtless an exaggeration; but still it would seem to
be certain that the great invasion of which he speaks was not confined
to Media, but extended to the adjacent countries of Armenia and Assyria,
whence it spread to Syria and Palestine. The hordes probably swarmed
down from Media through the Zagros passes into the richest portion of
Assyria, the flat country between the mountains and the Tigris. Many of
the old cities, rich with the accumulated stores of ages, were besieged,
and perhaps taken, and their palaces wantonly burnt, by the barbarous
invaders. The tide then swept on. Wandering from district to district,
plundering everywhere, settling nowhere, the clouds of horse passed over
Mesopotamia, the force of the invasion becoming weaker as it spread
itself, until in Syria it reached its term through the policy of the
Egyptian king, Psammetichus. This monarch, who was engaged in the siege
of Ashdod, no sooner heard of the approach of a great Scythian host,
which threatened to overrun Egypt, and had advanced as far as Ascalon,
than he sent ambassadors to their leader and prevailed on him by rich
gifts to abstain from his enterprise. From this time the power of the
invaders seems to have declined. Their strength could not but suffer by
the long series of battles, sieges, and skirmishes in which they were
engaged year after year against enemies in nowise contemptible; it would
likewise deteriorate through their excesses; and it may even have
received some injury from intestine quarrels. After awhile, the nations
whom they had overrun, whose armies they had defeated, and whose cities
they had given to the flames, began to recover themselves. Cyaxares, it
is probable, commenced an aggressive war against such of the invaders as
had remained within the limits of his dominions, and soon drove them
beyond his borders. Other kings may have followed his example. In a
little while long, probably, before the twenty-eight years of Herodotus
had expired--the Scythian power was completely broken. Many bands may
have returned across the Caucasus into the Steppe country. Others
submitted, and took service under the native rulers of Asia. Great
numbers were slain and except in a province of Armenia which
henceforward became known as Sacasene, and perhaps in one Syrian town,
which we find called Scythopolis, the invaders left no trace of their
brief but terrible inroad.

If we have been right in supposing that the Scythian attack fell with as
much severity on the Assyrians as on any other Asiatic people, we can
scarcely be in error if we ascribe to this cause the rapid and sudden
decline of the empire at this period. The country had been ravaged and
depopulated, the provinces had been plundered, many of the great towns
had been taken and sacked, the palaces of the old kings had been burnt,
and all the gold and silver that was not hid away had been carried off.
Assyria, when the Scythians quitted her, was but the shadow of her
former self. Weak and exhausted, she seemed to invite a permanent
conqueror. If her limits had not much shrunk, if the provinces still
acknowledged her authority, it was from habit rather than from fear, or
because they too had suffered greatly from the northern barbarians. We
find Babylon subject to Assyria to the very last; and we seem to see
that Judaea passed from the rule of the Assyrians under that of the
Babylonians, without any interval of independence or any need of
re-conquest. But if these two powers at the south-eastern and the
south-western extremities of the empire continued faithful, the less
distant nations could scarcely have thrown off the yoke.

Asshur-bani-pal, then, on the withdrawal of the barbarians, had still an
empire to rule, and he may be supposed to have commenced some attempts
at re-organizing and re-invigorating the governmental system to which
the domination of the Scythe must have given a rude shock. But he had
not time to effect much. In B.C. 626 he died, after a reign of forty-two
years, and was succeeded by his son, Asshur-emid-ilin, whom the Greeks
called Saracus. Of this prince we possess but few native records; and,
unless it should be thought that the picture which Ctesias gave of the
character and conduct of his last Assyrian king deserves to be regarded
as authentic history, and to be attached to this monarch, we must
confess to an almost equal dearth of classical notices of his life and
actions. Scarcely anything has come down to us from his time but a few
legends on bricks, from which it appears that he was the builder of the
south-east edifice at Nimrud, a construction presenting some remarkable
but no very interesting features. The classical notices, apart from the
tales which Ctesias originated, are limited to a few sentences in
Abydenus, and a word or two in Polyhistor. Thus nearly the same
obscurity which enfolds the earlier portion of the history gathers about
the monarch in whose person the empire terminated; and instead of the
ample details which have crowded upon us now for many consecutive
reigns, we shall be reduced to a meagre outline, partly resting upon
conjecture, in our portraiture of this last king.

Saracus, as the monarch may be termed after Abydenus, ascended the
throne at a most difficult and dangerous crisis in his country's
history. Assyria was exhausted; and perhaps half depopulated by the
Scythic ravages. The bands which united the provinces to the sovereign
state, though not broken, had been weakened, and rebellion threatened to
break out in various quarters. Ruin had overtaken many of the provincial
towns; and it would require a vast outlay to restore their public
buildings. But the treasury was wellnigh empty, and did not allow the
new monarch to adopt in his buildings the grand and magnificent style of
former kings. Still Saracus attempted something. At Calah he began the
construction of a building which apparently was intended for a palace,
but which contrasts most painfully with the palatial erections of former
kings. The waning glory of the monarchy was made patent both to the
nation and to strangers by an edifice where coarse slabs of common
limestone, unsculptured and uninscribed, replaced the alabaster
bas-reliefs of former times; and where a simple plaster above the slabs
was the substitute for the richly-patterned enamelled bricks of Sargon,
Sennacherib, and Asshur-bani-pal. A set of small chambers, of which no
one exceeded forty-five feet in length and twenty-five feet in its
greatest breadth, sufficed for the last Assyrian king, whose shrunken
Court could no longer have filled the vast halls of his ancestors. The
Nimrud palace of Saracus seems to have covered less than one-half of the
space occupied by any former palace upon the mound; it had no grand
facade, no magnificent gateway; the rooms, curiously misshapen, as if
taste had declined with power and wealth, were mostly small and
inconvenient, running in suites which opened into one another without
any approaches from courts or passages, roughly paved with limestone
flags, and composed of sun-dried bricks faced with limestone and
plaster. That Saracus should have been reduced even to contemplate
residing in this poor and mean dwelling is the strongest possible proof
of Assyria's decline and decay at a period preceding the great war which
led to her destruction.

It is possible that this edifice may not have been completed at the time
of Saracus's death, and in that case we may suppose that its extreme
rudeness would have received certain embellishments had he lived to
finish the structure. While it was being erected, he must have resided
elsewhere. Apparently, he held his court at Nineveh during this period;
and was certainly there that he made his last arrangements for defence,
and his final stand against the enemy, who took advantage of his weak
condition to press forward the conquest of the empire.

The Medes, in their strong upland country, abounding in rocky hills, and
running up in places into mountain-chains, had probably suffered much
less from the ravages of the Scyths than the Assyrians in their
comparatively defenceless plains. Of all the nations exposed to the
scourge of the invasion they were evidently the first to recover
themselves, partly from the local causes here noticed, partly perhaps
from their inherent vigor and strength. If Herodotus's date for the
original inroad of the Scythians is correct, not many years can have
elapsed before the tide of war turned, and the Medes began to make head
against their assailants, recovering possession of most parts of their
country, and expelling or overpowering the hordes at whose insolent
domination they had chafed from the first hour of the invasion. It was
probably as early as B.C. 627, five years after the Scyths crossed the
Caucasus, according to Herodotus, that Cyaxares, having sufficiently
re-established his power in Media, began once more to aspire after
foreign conquests. Casting his eyes around upon the neighboring
countries, he became aware of the exhaustion of Assyria, and perceived
that she was not likely to offer an effectual resistance to a sudden and
vigorous attack. He therefore collected a large army and invaded Assyria
from the east, while it would seem that the Susianians, with whom he had
perhaps made an alliance, attacked her from the south.

To meet this double danger. Saracus, the Assyrian king, determined on
dividing his forces: and, while he entrusted a portion of them to a
general, Nabopolassar, who had orders to proceed to Babylon and engage
the enemy advancing from the sea, he himself with the remainder made
ready to receive the Medes. In idea this was probably a judicious
disposition of the troops at his disposal; it was politic to prevent a
junction of the two assailing powers, and, as the greater danger was
that which threatened from the Medes, it was well for the king to
reserve himself with the bulk of his forces to meet this enemy. But the
most prudent arrangements may be disconcerted by the treachery of those
who are entrusted with their execution; and so it was in the present
instance. The faithless Nabopolassar saw in his sovereign's difficulty
his own opportunity and, instead of marching against Assyria's enemies,
as his duty required him, he secretly negotiated an arrangement with
Cyaxares, agreed to become his ally against the Assyrians, and obtained
the Median king's daughter as a bride for Nebuchadnezzar, his eldest
son. Cyaxares and Nabopolassar then joined their efforts against
Nineveh; and Saracus, unable to resist them, took counsel of his
despair, and, after all means of resistance were exhausted, burned
himself in his palace. It is uncertain whether we possess any further
historical details of the siege. The narrative of Ctesias may embody a
certain number of the facts, as it certainly represented with truth the
strange yet not incredible termination. But on the other hand, we cannot
feel sure, with regard to any statement made solely by that writer, that
it has any other source than his imagination. Hence the description of
the last siege of Nineveh, as given by Diodorus on the authority of
Ctesias, seems undeserving of a place in history, though the attention
of the curious may properly be directed to it.

The empire of the Assyrians thus fell, not so much from any inherent
weakness, or from the effect of gradual decay, as by an unfortunate
combination of circumstances--the occurrence of a terrible inroad of
northern barbarians just at the time when a warlike nation, long settled
on the borders of Assyria, and within a short distance of her capital,
was increasing, partly by natural and regular causes, partly by
accidental and abnormal ones, in greatness and strength. It will be
proper, in treating of the history of Media, to trace out, as far as our
materials allow, these various causes, and to examine the mode and
extent of their operation. But such an inquiry is not suited for this
place, since, if fully made, it would lead us too far away from our
present subject, which is the history of Assyria; while, if made
partially, it would be unsatisfactory. It is therefore deferred to
another place. The sketch here attempted of Assyrian history will now be
brought to a close by a few observations on the general nature of the
monarchy, or its extent in the most flourishing period, and on the
character of its civilization.

The independent kingdom of Assyria covered a space of at least a
thousand years; but the empire can, at the utmost, be considered to have
lasted a period short of seven centuries, from B.C. 1300 to B.C. 625 or
624--the date of the conquest of Cyaxares. In reality, the period of
extensive domination seems to have commenced with Asshur-ris-ilim, about
B.C. 1150, so that the duration of the true empire did not much exceed
five centuries. The limits of the dominion varied considerably within
this period, the empire expanding or contracting according to the
circumstances of the time and the personal character of the prince by
whom the throne was occupied. The extreme extent appears not to have
been reached until almost immediately before the last rapid decline set
in, the widest dominion belonging to the time of Asshur-bani-pal, the
conqueror of Egypt, of Susiana, and of the Armenians. In the middle part
of this prince's reign Assyria was paramount over the portion of Western
Asia included between the Mediterranean and the Halys on the one hand,
the Caspian Sea and the great Persian desert on the other. Southwards
the boundary was formed by Arabia and the Persian Gulf; northwards it
seems at no time to have advanced to the Euxine or to the Caucasus, but
to have been formed by a fluctuating line, which did not in the most
flourishing period extend so far as the northern frontier of Armenia.
Besides her Asiatic dominions, Assyria possessed also at this time a
portion of Africa, her authority being acknowledged by Egypt as far as
the latitude of Thebes. The countries included within the limits thus
indicated, and subject during the period in question to Assyrian
influence, were chiefly the following: Susiana, Chaldaea, Babylonia,
Media, Matiene or the Zagros range, Mesopotamia; parts of Armenia,
Cappadocia, and Cilicia; Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine. Idummaea, a
portion of Arabia, and almost the whole of Egypt. The island of Cyprus
was also, it is probable, a dependency. On the other hand, Persia
Proper, Bactria, and Sogdiana, even Hyrcania, were beyond the eastern
limit of the Assyrian sway, which towards the north did not on this side
reach further than about the neighborhood of Kasvin, and towards the
south was confined within the barrier of Zagros. Similarly on the west,
Phrygia, Lydia, Lycia, even Pamphylia, were independent, the Assyrian
arms having never, so far as appears, penetrated westward beyond Cilicia
or crossed the river Halys.

The nature of the dominion established by the great Mesopotamian
monarchy over the countries included within the limits above indicated,
will perhaps be best understood if we compare it with the empire of
Solomon. Solomon reigned over _all the kingdoms_ from the river
(Euphrates) unto the land of the Philistines and unto the border of
Egypt: they _brought presents_ and served Solomon all the days of his
life. The first and most striking feature of the earliest empires is
that they are a mere congeries of kingdoms: the countries over which the
dominant state acquires an influence, not only retain their distinct
individuality, as is the case in some modern empires, but remain in all
respects such as they were before, with the simple addition of certain
obligations contracted towards the paramount authority. They keep their
old laws, their old religion, their line of kings, their law of
succession, their whole internal organization and machinery; they only
acknowledge an external suzerainty which binds them to the performance
of certain duties towards the Head of the Empire. These duties, as
understood in the earliest times, may be summed up in the two words
"homage" and "tribute;" the subject kings "serve" and "bring presents."
They are bound to acts of submission; must attend the court of their
suzerain when summoned, unless they have a reasonable excuse; must there
salute him as a superior, and otherwise acknowledge his rank; above all,
they must pay him regularly the fixed tribute which has been imposed
upon them at the time of their submission or subjection, the
unauthorized withholding of which is open and avowed rebellion. Finally,
they must allow his troops free passage through their dominions, and
must oppose any attempt at invasion by way of their country on the part
of his enemies. Such are the earliest and most essential obligations on
the part of the subject states in an empire of the primitive type like
that of Assyria; and these obligations, with the corresponding one on
the part of the dominant power of the protection of its dependants
against foreign foes, appear to have constituted the sole links which
joined together in one the heterogeneous materials of which that empire

It is evident that a government of the character here described contains
within it elements of constant disunion and disorder. Under favorable
circumstances, with an active and energetic prince upon the throne,
there is an appearance of strength, and a realization of much
magnificence and grandeur. The subject monarchs pay annually their due
share of "the regulated tribute of the empire;" and the better to secure
the favor of their common sovereign, add to it presents, consisting of
the choicest productions of their respective kingdoms. The material
resources of the different countries are placed at the disposal of the
dominant power; and skilled workmen are readily lent for the service of
the court, who adorn or build the temples and the royal residences, and
transplant the luxuries and refinements of their several states to the
imperial capital. But no sooner does any untoward event occur, as a
disastrous expedition, a foreign attack, a domestic conspiracy, or even
an untimely and unexpected death of the reigning prince, than the
inherent weakness of this sort of government at once displays
itself--the whole fabric of the empire falls asunder--each kingdom
re-asserts its independence--tribute ceases to be paid--and the mistress
of a hundred states suddenly finds herself thrust back into her
primitive condition, stripped of the dominion which has been her
strength, and thrown entirely upon her own resources. Then the whole
task of reconstruction has to be commenced anew--one by one the rebel
countries are overrun, and the rebel monarchs chastised--tribute is
re-imposed, submission enforced, and in fifteen or twenty years the
empire has perhaps recovered itself. Progress is of course slow and
uncertain, where the empire has continually to be built up again from
its foundations, and where at any time a day may undo the work which it
has taken centuries to accomplish.

To discourage and check the chronic disease of rebellion, re-course is
had to severe remedies, which diminish the danger to the central power,
at the cost of extreme misery and often almost entire ruin to the
subject kingdoms. Not only are the lands wasted, the flocks and herds
carried off, the towns pillaged and burnt, or in some cases razed to the
ground, the rebel king deposed and his crown transferred to another, the
people punished by the execution of hundreds or thousands as well as by
an augmentation of the tribute money; but sometimes wholesale
deportation of the inhabitants is practised, tens or hundreds of
thousands being carried away captive by the conquerors, and either
employed in servile labor at the capital or settled as colonists in a
distant province. With this practice the history of the Jews, in which
it forms so prominent a feature, has made us familiar. It seems to have
been known to the Assyrians from very early times, and to have become by
degrees a sort of settled principle in their government. In the most
flourishing period of their dominion--the reigns of Sargon, Sennacherib,
and Esar-haddon--it prevailed most widely, and was carried to the
greatest extent. Chaldaeans were transported into Armenia, Jews and
Israelites into Assyria and Media, Arabians, Babylonians, Susianians,
and Persians into Palestine--the most distant portions of the empire
changed inhabitants, and no sooner did a people become troublesome from
its patriotism and love of independence, than it was weakened by
dispersion, and its spirit subdued by a severance of all its local
associations. Thus rebellion was in some measure kept down, and the
position of the central or sovereign state was rendered so far more
secure; but this comparative security was gained by a great sacrifice of
strength, and when foreign invasion came, the subject kingdoms, weakened
at once and alienated by the treatment which they had received, were
found to have neither the will nor the power to give any effectual aid
to their enslaver.

Such, in its broad and general outlines, was the empire of the
Assyrians. It embodied the earliest, simplest, and most crude conception
which the human mind forms of a widely extended dominion. It was a
"kingdom-empire," like the empires of Solomon, of Nebuchadnezzar, of
Chedor-laomer, and probably of Cyaxares, and it the best specimen of its
class, being the largest, the longest in duration, and the best known of
all such governments that has existed. It exhibits in a marked way both
the strength and weakness of this class of monarchies--their strength in
the extraordinary magnificence, grandeur, wealth, and refinement of the
capital; their weakness in the impoverishment, the exhaustion, and the
consequent disaffection of the subject states. Ever falling to pieces,
it was perpetually reconstructed by the genius and prowess of a long
succession of warrior princes, seconded by the skill and bravery of the
people. Fortunate in possessing for a longtime no very powerful
neighbor, it found little difficulty in extending itself throughout
regions divided and subdivided among hundreds of petty chiefs incapable
of union, and singly quite unable to contend with the forces of a large
and populous country. Frequently endangered by revolts, yet always
triumphing over them, it maintained itself for five centuries gradually
advancing its influence, and was only overthrown after a fierce struggle
by a new kingdom formed upon its borders, which, taking advantage of a
time of exhaustion, and leagued with the most powerful of the subject
states, was enabled to accomplish the destruction of the long-dominant

In the curt and dry records of the Assyrian monarchs, while the broad
outlines of the government are well marked, it is difficult to
distinguish those nicer shades of system and treatment which no doubt
existed, and in which the empire of the Assyrians differed probably from
others of the same type. One or two such points, however, may perhaps be
made out. In the first place, though religious uniformity is certainly
not the law of the empire, yet a religious character appears in many of
the wars, and attempts at any rate seem to be made to diffuse everywhere
a knowledge and recognition of the gods of Assyria. Nothing is more
universal than the practice of setting up in the subject countries the
laws of Asshur or "altars to the Great Gods." In some instances not only
altars but temples are erected, and priests are left to superintend the
worship and secure its being properly conducted. The history of Judaea
is, however, enough to show that the continuance of the national worship
was at least tolerated, though some formal acknowledgment of the
presiding deities of Assyria on the part of the subject nations may not
improbably have been required in most cases.

Secondly, there is an indication that in certain countries immediately
bordering on Assyria endeavors were made from time to time to centralize
and consolidate the empire, by substituting, on fit occasions, for the
native chiefs, Assyrian officers as governors. The persons appointed are
of two classes--"collectors" and "treasurers." Their special business
is, of course, as their names imply, to gather in the tribute due to the
Great King, and secure its safe transmission to the capital; but they
seem to have been, at least in some instances, entrusted with the civil
government of their respective districts. It does not appear that this
system was ever extended very far, Lebanon on the west, and Mount Zagros
on the east, may be regarded as the extreme limits of the centralized
Assyria. Armenia, Media, Babylonia, Susiana, most of Phoenicia,
Palestine, Philistia, retained to the last their native monarchs; and
thus Assyria, despite the feature here noticed, kept upon the whole her
character of a "kingdom-empire."

The civilization of the Assyrians is a large subject, on which former
chapters of this work have, it is hoped, thrown some light, and upon
which only a very few remarks will be here offered by way of
recapitulation. Deriving originally letters and the elements of learning
from Babylonia, the Assyrians appear to have been content with the
knowledge thus obtained, and neither in literature nor in science to
have progressed much beyond their instructors. The heavy incubus of a
dead language lay upon all those who desired to devote themselves to
scientific pursuits; and, owing to this, knowledge tended to become the
exclusive possession of a learned or perhaps a priest class, which did
not aim at progress, but was satisfied to hand on the traditions of
former ages. To understand the genius of the Assyrian people we must
look to their art and their manufactures. These are in the main probably
of native growth; and from them we may best gather an impression of the
national character. They show us a patient, laborious, pains-taking
people, with more appreciation of the useful than the ornamental, and of
the actual than the ideal. Architecture, the only one of the fine arts
which is essentially useful, forms their chief glory; sculpture, and
still more painting, are subsidiary to it. Again, it is the most useful
edifice--the palace or house--whereon attention is concentrated--the
temple and the tomb, the interest attaching to which is ideal and
spiritual, are secondary, and appear (so far as they appear at all)
simply as appendages of the palace. In the sculpture it is the actual
the historically true--which the artist strives to represent. Unless in
the case of a few mythic figures connected with the religion of the
country, there is nothing in the Assyrian bas-reliefs which is not
imitated from nature. The imitation is always laborious, and often most
accurate and exact. The laws of representation, as we understand them,
are sometimes departed from, but it is always to impress the spectator
with ideas in accordance with truth. Thus the colossal bulls and lions
have five legs, but in order that they may be seen from every point of
view with four; the ladders are placed edgewise against the walls of
besieged towns, but it is to show that they are ladders, and not mere
poles; walls of cities are made disproportionately small, but it is
done, like Raphael's boat, to bring them within the picture, which would
otherwise be a less complete representation of the actual fact. The
careful finish, the minute detail, the elaboration of every hair in a
beard, and every stitch in the embroidery of a dress, reminds us of the
Dutch school of painting, and illustrates strongly the spirit of
faithfulness and honesty which pervades the sculptures, and gives them
so great a portion of their value. In conception, in grace, in freedom
and correctness of outline, they fall undoubtedly far behind the
inimitable productions of the Greeks; but they have a grandeur and a
dignity, a boldness, a strength, and an appearance of life, which render
them even intrinsically valuable as works of art, and, considering the
time at which they were produced, must excite our surprise and
admiration. Art, so far as we know, had existed previously only in the
stiff and lifeless conventionalism of the Egyptians. It belonged to
Assyria to confine the conventional to religion, and to apply art to the
vivid representation of the highest scenes of human life. War in all its
forms--the-march, the battle, the pursuit, the siege of towns, the
passage of rivers and marshes, the submission and treatment of captives,
and the "mimic war" of hunting the chase of the lion, the stag, the
antelope, the wild bull, and the wild ass, are the chief subjects
treated by the Assyrian sculptors; and in these the conventional is
discarded; fresh scenes, new groupings, bold and strange attitudes
perpetually appear, and in the animal representations especially there
is a continual advance, the latest being the most spirited, the most
varied, and the most true to nature, though perhaps lacking somewhat of
the majesty and grandeur of the earlier. With no attempt to idealize or
go beyond nature, there is a growing power of depicting things as they
are--an increased grace and delicacy of execution, showing that Assyrian
art was progressive, not stationary, and giving a promise of still
higher excellence, had circumstances permitted its development.

The art of Assyria has every appearance of thorough and entire
nationality; but it is impossible to feel sure that her manufactures
were in the same sense absolutely her own. The practice of borrowing
skilled workmen from the conquered states would introduce into Nineveh
and the other royal cities the fabrics of every region which
acknowledged the Assyrian sway; and plunder, tribute, and commerce would
unite to enrich them with the choicest products of all civilized
countries. Still, judging by the analogy of modern times, it seems most
reasonable to suppose that the bulk of the manufactured goods consumed
in the country would be of home growth. Hence we may fairly assume that
the vases, jars, bronzes, glass bottles, carved ornaments in ivory and
mother-of-pearl, engraved gems, bells, dishes, earrings, arms, working
implements, etc., which have been found at Nimrud, Khorsabad, and
Koyunjik, are mainly the handiwork of the Assyrians. It has been
conjectured that the rich garments represented as worn by the kings and
others were the product of Babylon, always famous for its tissues; but
even this is uncertain; and they are perhaps as likely to have been of
home manufacture. At any rate the bulk of the ornaments, utensils,
etc'., may be regarded as native products. They are almost invariably of
elegant form, and indicate a considerable knowledge of metallurgy and
other arts as well as a refined taste. Among them are some which
anticipate inventions believed till lately to have been modern.
Transparent glass (which, however, was known also in ancient Egypt) is
one of these; but the most remarkable of all is the lens discovered at
Nimrud, of the use of which as a magnifying agent there is abundant
proof. If it be borne in mind, in addition to all this, that the
buildings of the Assyrians show them to have been well acquainted with
the principle of the arch, that they constructed tunnels, aqueducts, and
drains, that they knew the use of the pulley, the lever, and the roller,
that they understood the arts of inlaying, enamelling, and overlaying
with metals, and that they cut gems with the greatest skill and finish,
it will be apparent that their civilization equalled that of almost any
ancient country, and that it did not fall immeasurably behind the
boasted achievements of the moderns. With much that was barbaric still
attaching to them, with a rude and inartificial government, savage
passions, a debasing religion, and a general tendency to materialism,
they were, towards the close of their empire, in all the ordinary arts
and appliances of life, very nearly on a par with ourselves; and thus
their history furnishes a warning--which the records of nations
constantly repeat--that the greatest material prosperity may co-exist
with the decline--and herald the downfall--of a kingdom.


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