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Title: Mesopotamian Archaeology - An introduction to the archaeology of Mesopotamia and Assyria
Author: Handcock, Percy S. P.
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.

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[Illustration: Frontispiece]






  A. M. LORD




In every department of science the theories of yesterday are perpetually
being displaced by the empirical facts of to-day, though the
ascertainment of these facts is frequently the indirect outcome of the
theories which the facts themselves dissipate. Hence it is that the
works of the greatest scholars and experts have no finality, they are
but stepping-stones towards the goal of perfect knowledge. Since the
publications of Layard, Rawlinson, Botta and Place much new material has
been made accessible for the reconstruction of the historic past of the
Babylonians and Assyrians, and we are consequently able to fill in many
gaps in the picture so admirably, and as far as it went, so faithfully
drawn by the pioneers in the field of excavation and research. This
work, which owes its origin to a suggestion made by Dr. Wallis Budge,
represents an endeavour on the part of the writer to give a brief
account of the civilization of ancient Babylonia and Assyria in the
light of this new material.

It is hoped that the infinitude of activities and pursuits which go to
make up the civilization of any country will justify the writer’s
treatment of so many subjects in a single volume. It will be observed
that space allotted to the consideration of the different arts and
crafts varies on the one hand according to the relative importance of
the part each played in the life of the people, and on the other hand
according to the amount of material available for the study of the
particular subject.

No effort has been spared to make the chapters on Architecture,
Sculpture and Metallurgy as comprehensive as the limitations of the
volume permit, while for the sake of those who desire to pursue the
study of any of the subjects dealt with in this book, and to work up the
sketch into a picture, a short bibliography is given at the end.

It has not been thought desirable to amass a vast number of references
in the footnotes, and the writer is thereby debarred from acknowledging
his indebtedness to the works of other writers on all occasions as he
would like to have done.

In addition to the chapters which deal expressly with the cultural
evolution of the dwellers in Mesopotamia, two chapters are devoted to
the consideration of the Cuneiform writing—its pictorial origin, the
history of its decipherment, and the literature of which it is the
vehicle, while another chapter is occupied with a historical review of
the excavations. The short chronological summary at the end obviously
makes not the slightest pretension to even being a comprehensive
summary; it merely purports to give the general chronological order of
some of the better known rulers and kings of Babylonia and Assyria to
whom allusion is made in this volume, together with a notice of some of
the more significant land-marks in the history of the two countries.

The writer’s thanks are due to the Trustees of the British Museum for
permission to photograph some of the objects in the Babylonian and
Assyrian Collections, and to Dr. Wallis Budge for facilities and
encouragement in carrying out the work; to the University of Chicago
Press for allowing him to reproduce illustrations from the _American
Journal of Semitic Languages_ and also diagrams from Harper’s Memorial
Volumes; to M. Ernest Leroux for permitting him to make use of some of
the plates contained in the monumental works of De Sarzec and Heuzey,
and to M. Ch. Eggimann of the “Libraire Centrale d’art et d’architecture
ancienne maison Morel,” for his very kind permission to reproduce two of
the plates contained in Dieulafoy, _L’Art Antique de la Perse_. He is
similarly indebted to the Deutsche-Orient Gesellschaft for allowing him
to make an autotype copy of one of the plates in Andrae’s _Der Anu-Adad
Tempel_. He further desires to acknowledge the generosity of Prof. H. V.
Hilprecht in allowing him to make use of many of the illustrations
contained in his numerous publications, and also of Dr. Fisher for
permitting him to reproduce some of the photographs contained in his
magnificently illustrated work on the excavations at Nippur. He is very
sensible of his indebtedness to these two gentlemen, as also to M.
Leroux and the Deutsche-Orient Gesellschaft, for the photographs of
excavations in progress are obviously of a unique character and admit of
no repetition; he further desires to express his obligations to Dr. W.
Hayes Ward for his most kind permission to copy a number of
seal-impressions and other illustrations contained in his recently
published work—_Cylinder-Seals of Western Asia_. Lastly, he welcomes the
opportunity of acknowledging the kindness of Mr. Mansell for allowing
him to publish many photographs of objects in the British Museum and the
Louvre contained in his incomparable collection, and for in other ways
facilitating the illustration of this volume. Most of the plans and
drawings used for this volume are the work of Miss E. K. Reader, who has
performed her task with her usual skill.

  P. S. P. H.

  _March, 1912._


  p.   6, l.  3, _for_ 2500 B.C. _read_ 2400 B.C.
  p.   6, l. 18, _for_ 2500 B.C. _read_ 2400 B.C.
  p.  43, l.  7  from foot, _read_ both French and English explorers
  p.  62, l.  2, _for_ considerable _read_ much
  p.  89, l.  5, _for_ ± _read_ —
  p. 110, l.  2, _for_ 2500 B.C. _read_ 2400 B.C.
  p. 125, l.  7  from foot, _for_ or _read_ and
  p. 130, l. 23, _for_ 2400 B.C. _read_ 2350 B.C.
  p. 155, l. 31, _for_ having _read_ have
  p. 235, l.  9  from foot, _for_ Sumu-la-ilu _read_ Sumu-ilu
  p. 247, l.  1, _for_ 2500 B.C. _read_ 2400 B.C.
  p. 249, l. 35, _after_ crudeness _read_ these heads

The reference numbers as printed on Plates VII to XI are inaccurate, and
should be altered as follows, in agreement with the List of
Illustrations and the references in the text:—

                                       _Present number      _Correct number
                                       and position_        and position_

  ZIGGURAT OF ASHUR-NAṢIR-PAL         VII _Facing_ p. 64    VIII Facing p. 78
  INSCRIPTIONS ON CLAY                VIII    ”       78     IX     ”     106
  RUINED MOUNDS AND COURT OF MEN       IX     ”      106      X     ”     132
  WATER CONDUIT, NIPPUR                X      ”      132     XI     ”     138
  EXCAVATIONS IN TEMPLE COURT          XI     ”      138    VII     ”      64


  CHAPTER                                                 PAGE


  (_a_) Land and People                                       1

  (_b_) Sketch of Babylonian and Assyrian History            28

    II. EXCAVATIONS                                          40


    IV. CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS                               95

     V. ARCHITECTURE                                        119

    VI. SCULPTURE                                           181

   VII. METALLURGY                                          242

  VIII. PAINTING                                            270

    IX. CYLINDER-SEALS                                      284

     X. SHELL-ENGRAVING AND IVORY-WORK                      309

    XI. TERRA-COTTA FIGURES AND RELIEFS                     317

   XII. STONEWARE AND POTTERY                               325



        SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY                                  406

          SUMMARY                                           408

        INDEX                                               411




     I. Coloured Lion at Khorsabad                 _Frontispiece_


                                                      FACING PAGE

     II. Kouyunjik and Nebi Yûnus (two views)                  42

         Nimrûd (Calah)                                        42

         Khorsabad                                             42

    III. Excavations at Nimrûd (Calah) in Ashur-naṣir-pal’s
           Palace                                              44

     IV. “Fish-God,” and Entrance Passage, Kouyunjik           48

      V. Doorway at Tellô, erected by Gudea                    54

         South-eastern façade of Ur-Ninâ’s building at
           Tellô                                               54

      VI. Remains of a Stele in a building under that of
            Ur-Ninâ                                            58

          The Well of Eannatum                                 58

      XI. Excavations in the Temple Court, Nippur              64

    VIII. The Ziggurat and Palace of Ashur-naṣir-pal,
            Ashur                                              78

      IX. Inscriptions on clay illustrating the sizes and
          shapes of the Tablets, etc., used by the Babylonians
          and Assyrians                                       106

       X. The Ruined Mounds of Nippur                         132

          Court of the Men from the North-East, Nippur        132

      XI. Water Conduit of Ur-Engur, Nippur                   138

     XII. Portion of the “Vulture Stele” of Eannatum,
            Patesi of Lagash                                  186

    XIII. Stele of Victory of Narâm-Sin                       192

     XIV. Stele engraved with Khammurabi’s Code of
            Laws                                              198

          The Sun-God Tablet                                  198

      XV. Bas-relief of Ashur-naṣir-pal                       202

     XVI. Bas-reliefs of Ashur-naṣir-pal (four subjects)      204

    XVII. Siege of a City by battering-ram and archers        206

   XVIII. Ashur-bani-pal’s Hunting Scenes: Lion and
            lioness in a garden                               218

     XIX. Ashur-bani-pal’s Hunting Scenes (two subjects)      218

      XX. Ashur-bani-pal’s Hunting Scenes: Hunting
            wild asses with dogs                              220

          Ashur-bani-pal pouring out a libation over
            dead lions                                        220

     XXI. Ashur-bani-pal reclining at meat                    222

          Musicians and Attendants                            222

    XXII. Limestone figure of an early Sumerian               224

          Three archaic stone heads                           224

   XXIII. Head and two diorite statues of Gudea;
            upper part of female statuette                    228

    XXIV. Statues of Nebo and Ashur-naṣir-pal; torso
            of a woman                                        230

     XXV. Winged man-headed genii                             236

    XXVI. Stone lion of Ashur-naṣir-pal                       238

   XXVII. The Kasr lion                                       240

  XXVIII. Miscellaneous objects of bronze, from
            Nimrûd                                            254

    XXIX. Bronze bowl, from Nimrûd                            256

     XXX. Decorated arch at Khorsabad                         278

    XXXI. Glazed bricks                                       282

   XXXII. Ivory panels, from Nimrûd                           314

  XXXIII. Pottery, from Nimrûd and Nineveh                    334


  FIGURE                                                     PAGE

    1. Pictographs                                             97

    2. Pictographs                                             99

    3. Late Babylonian “squeeze” of an early inscription      117

    4. Brick-stamp of Narâm-Sin                               117

    5. Clay covering of the “Sun-Tablet”                      117

    6. Restoration of the temple at Nippur                    137

    7. Restoration of the Anu-Adad temple at Ashur            144

    8. Restoration of Sargon’s palace at Khorsabad            151

    9. Domed roofs in Assyria                                 155

   10, 11. Terra-cotta drains                                 159

   12. Columnar piers at Tellô                                161

   13. Large column capital; small column capital             165

   14. Columns (various)                                      166

   15. Early arch at Nippur                                   170

   16. Early arch at Tellô                                    170

   17. Corbelled arch at Nippur                               173

   18. Round arch at Babylon                                  173

   19-22. Arched drains at Khorsabad                          174

   23. Burial-vault at Ashur                                  176

   24. Burial-vault at Ur (Muḳeyyer)                          176

   24_a_. Ziggurat on Assyrian bas-relief                     180

   24_b_. Ziggurat at Khorsabad                               180

   25. Six early bas-reliefs                                  182

   26. Stele of Ur-Ninâ and mace-head of Mesilim              185

   27. Two fragments of the “Vulture Stele”; little
         sculptured block (Entemena’s reign)                  189

   28. Five bas-reliefs, including one of Narâm-Sin           194

   29. Bas-relief of Sargon, king of Assyria                  209

   30. Bas-relief of Sennacherib; removal of stone bull       213

   31. Sennacherib at Lachish                                 215

   32. Statue of Esar, king of Adab                           223

   33. Early stone statue of a woman                          224

   34. Statue of Manishtusu; seated figure of a woman;
         head of a woman                                      225

   35. Seated figure of Shalmaneser II                        231

   36. Stone lion-head; figure of a dog; stone figure of
         a human-headed bull inlaid with shell                234

   37. Copper spear-head; hollow copper tube                  243

   38. Early copper figures                                   245

   39. Copper figures of Basket-bearers; copper figure
         of Gudea                                             247

   40. Figures and heads of animals in copper and bronze      250

   41. Two Assyrian swords; an Assyrian axe                   254

   42. Bronze dish                                            257

   43, 44. Bronze gate-bands                             259, 260

   45. Silver vase of Entemena                                265

   46. Coloured clay relief lion from Babylon                 274

   47. Coloured bull at Babylon; coloured bull at Nimrûd
         (Calah)                                              275

   48. Three cylinder seals; clay tablet bearing a
         seal-impression                                      285

   49-77. Impressions from cylinder-seals                 289-307

   78-83. Engravings on shells                            310-312

   84. Carved ivory panel from Nimrûd                         314

   85. Early terra-cotta figures                              318

   86. Terra-cotta figures of later date                      320

   87. Terra-cotta figure of a dog                            323

   88. Terra-cotta plaque showing dog with attendant          323

   89. Stone vase of Narâm-Sin                                328

   90. Decorated stone vase of Gudea                          328

   91. Three stone vessels, one of which bears an inscription
         of Sennacherib, and another the name of Xerxes;
         small glass vessel of Sargon                         330

   92, 93. Two early clay pots from Nippur                    332

   94. Boomerang-shaped weapons                               342

   95. Assyrian jewellery                                     348

   96, 97. Combs                                              349

   98, 99. Foot-spearman and Foot-archers of the first
            Assyrian period                                   350

  100-102. Archers in the reign of Sargon                     351

  103-105. Archers in the reign of Sennacherib                352

  106, 107. Assyrian cavalry                             354, 355

  108. Assyrian chariotry                                     356

  109. Assyrian helmets and head-gears                        357

  110. Assyrian weapons of offence                            358

  111. Battering-rams and shields                             360

  112. Naval equipment of the Assyrians                       362

  113-115. Babylonian emblems                            396, 398


  (1) Mesopotamia, (2) Babylonia _Folder at end_

  Mesopotamian Archæology



The Mesopotamian civilization shares with the Egyptian civilization the
honour of being one of the two earliest civilizations in the world, and
although M. J. de Morgan’s excavations at Susa the ruined capital of
ancient Elam, have brought to light the elements of an advanced
civilization which perhaps even antedates that of Mesopotamia, it must
be remembered that the Sumerians who, so far as our present knowledge
goes, were the first to introduce the arts of life and all that they
bring with them, into the low-lying valley of the Tigris and Euphrates,
probably themselves emigrated from the Elamite plateau on the east of
the Tigris; at all events the Sumerians expressed both “mountain” and
“country” by the same writing-sign, the two apparently being synonymous
from their point of view; in support of this theory of a mountain-home
for the Sumerians, we may perhaps further explain the temple-towers, the
characteristic feature of most of the religious edifices in Mesopotamia,
as a conscious or unconscious imitation in bricks and mortar of the
hills and ridges of their native-land, due to an innate aversion to the
dead-level monotony of the Babylonian plain, while it is also a
significant fact that in the earliest period Shamash the Sun-god is
represented with one foot resting on a mountain, or else standing
between two mountains. However this may be, the history of the Elamites
was intimately wrapped up with that of the dwellers on the other side of
the Tigris, from the earliest times down to the sack of Susa by
Ashur-bani-pal, king of Assyria, in the seventh century. Both peoples
adopted the cuneiform system of writing, so-called owing to the
wedge-shaped formation of the characters, the wedges being due to the
material used in later times for all writing purposes—the clay of their
native soil—: both spoke an agglutinative, as opposed to an inflexional
language like our own, and both inherited a similar culture.

A further, and in its way a more convincing argument in support of the
mountain-origin theory is afforded by the early art of the Sumerians. On
the most primitive seal cylinders[1] we find trees and animals whose
home is in the mountains, and which certainly were not native to the
low-lying plain of Babylonia. The cypress and the cedar-tree are only
found in mountainous districts, but a tree which must be identified with
one or the other of them is represented on the early seal cylinders; it
is of course true that ancient Sumerian rulers fetched cedar wood from
the mountains for their building operations, and therefore the presence
of such a tree on cylinder seals merely argues a certain acquaintance
with the tree, but _ceteris paribus_ it is more reasonable to suppose
that the material earthly objects depicted, were those with which the
people were entirely familiar and not those with which they were merely
casually acquainted. Again, on the early cylinders the mountain bull,
known as the _Bison bonasus_, assumes the rôle played in later times by
the lowland water-buffalo. This occurs with such persistent regularity
that the inference that the home of the Sumerians in those days was in
the mountains is almost inevitable. Again, as Ward points out, the
composite man-bull Ea-bani, the companion of Gilgamesh, has always the
body of a bison, never that of a buffalo. So too the frequent occurrence
of the ibex, the oryx, and the deer with branching horns, all argues in
the same direction, for the natural home of all these animals lay in the

The Mesopotamian valley may, for the immediate purpose of this book, be
divided into two halves, a dividing-line being roughly drawn between the
two rivers just above Abû Habba (Sippar); the northern half embraces the
land occupied by the Assyrians, and the southern half that occupied by
the Babylonians. The precise date at which Assyria was colonized by
Babylonia is not known, but to the first known native[2] king of
Assyria, Irishum, we may assign an approximate date of 2000 B.C.
Babylonia proper is an alluvial plain the limits of which on the east
and west are the mountains of Persia and the table-land of Arabia
respectively. This valley has been gradually formed at the expense of
the sea’s domain, for in the remote past the Persian Gulf swept over the
whole plain at least as far northward as the city of Babylon where
sea-shells have been found, and probably a good deal further. It owes
its formation to the silt brought down by the two rivers and deposited
at the mouth of the Gulf: the amount of land thus yearly reclaimed from
the sea in early times is not known, but as Spasinus Chorax the modern
Mohammerah, which is now some forty-seven miles inland, was situated on
the sea-coast in the time of Alexander, we know that the conquest of the
land over the sea has been progressing since his time at the rate of 115
feet yearly.

Thus the physical characteristics of the country in which Babylonian
civilization was developed, if it was not actually the place of its
origin, form a close parallel to those of Lower Egypt; in Egypt however
such evidence as there is, would indicate the South, or Upper Egypt as
the earliest scene of civilization, the North being conquered by the
Mesniu (Metal-users) of the South, not only in the battle-field but also
in culture and civilization. Both countries have but a small sea-board
where their rivers find an outlet, the Nile into the Mediterranean, and
the Tigris and Euphrates into the Persian Gulf; both countries had
emerged and were yearly emerging out of the sea, for it is certain that
at one time the Mediterranean penetrated as far south as Esneh, while as
already mentioned, the Persian Gulf extended at least as far as Babylon;
we are accordingly not surprised to find in both the Babylonian and
Egyptian cosmologies a tradition which told of the creation of the world
out of a primæval mass of water, though this idea looms less
conspicuously in the Egyptian than in the Babylonian and Hebrew
cosmologies. Both countries also were visited by a yearly inundation
which, while it brought no small amount of devastation in its train, at
the same time deposited the mud so essential to the enrichment of the
soil, the desolation being checked or at least mitigated in either
country by an elaborate system of irrigation canals, which same canals
were in the summer-time the means of conveying the life-giving water to
the dry and thirsty land. Both Babylonia and Egypt enjoy a warm climate,
though Egypt is much more dry and therefore healthier, and the
corresponding dryness of its soil has preserved the tangible evidences
of its ancient history in a far more perfect condition than the
marsh-country of Lower Mesopotamia; and lastly the climate of Egypt is
not subject to the same violent changes of temperature incidental to
the seasons in the Valley of the Euphrates.

The evidence of any racial connection between the earliest known
inhabitants of the two countries is very precarious; as regards their
art, their customs and their language, the Sumerians on the one hand,
and the pre-dynastic and early dynastic Egyptians on the other, show a
complete independence of each other; both countries were probably
invaded at an early period of their histories by the Semites, who in the
case of Mesopotamia completely supplanted their predecessors of
different stock, but who were at the same time themselves absorbed by
the higher civilization of the Sumerians to which they were the destined
heirs, and to the further development of which they themselves were to
contribute so largely; but at what period or periods the Semites swept
over Egypt and the north coast of Africa, impressing their indelible and
unmistakable stamp upon the foundation-structure of the Egyptian and
Libyan languages is not known; whenever it was, we can safely assume
that their advent took place in prehistoric days, for the hieroglyphs
and probably also the language of the dynastic Egyptians were the
natural development of the language and crude picture-signs of their
predecessors, and the theory of a violent break in the continuity of
early Egyptian civilization at the commencement of the first dynasty is
daily becoming more untenable. We are similarly unable to assign any
definite date to the arrival of the Semites in the Mesopotamian Valley,
though the Neo-Babylonian King Nabonidus gives us a traditional date for
Shar-Gâni-sharri[3] (Sargon) and his son Narâm-Sin, kings of Agade, who,
so far as we know, established the first Semitic empire in the country.
There were indeed Semitic Kings of Kish before the time of
Shar-Gâni-sharri, but the extent of their sway was clearly very limited
compared with the far-reaching empire of the rulers of Agade. But there
are reasons for doubting the accuracy of the traditional date of 3750
B.C. which Nabonidus assigns to Narâm-Sin, the chief reason being the
extraordinary gap in the yieldings of Babylonian excavations between the
time of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin, and that of Gudea, the
priest-king of Lagash in Southern Babylonia, who reigned about 2400
B.C.; that is to say, concerning a period of about 1300 years the
excavations have afforded us practically no information whatever, while
both at the beginning and at the close of that period, we have abundant
evidence of the civilization and history of the inhabitants of
Babylonia; secondly, the style of art characteristic of the time of
Gudea and the kings of Ur, as also the style of writing found in their
inscriptions, presuppose no such long interval between the time of
Sargon and their own day. But there are yet other considerations which
are even more potent, and which deserve greater attention than has been
up to the present accorded to them, depending as they do upon the
stratification of the ruined mounds themselves. Now it is a very
significant fact that the architectural remains of Ur-Engur (_circ._
2400 B.C.) at Nippur, are found immediately above those of Narâm-Sin,
for such an arrangement is hardly conceivable if a period of some
thirteen hundred years separated these two rulers. Again, the
excavations carried on by Dr. Banks for the University of Chicago at
Bismâya have been productive of similar evidence, for immediately below
the ruined ziggurat of Dungi, Ur-Engur’s successor on the throne of Ur,
large square bricks of the size and shape characteristic of the time of
Shar-Gâni-sharri were discovered, while among the bricks a strip of gold
inscribed with the name of Narâm-Sin was also brought to light. The
evidence afforded by the excavations on these two sites would thus
appear to be exceedingly strong against the traditional date recorded by

It is therefore tempting to reason that that long silent period, the
silence of which cannot be adequately accounted for, had no existence at
all, that Nabonidus’ statement is therefore to be discredited, and that
Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin probably lived and reigned more than a
thousand years later, i.e. about 2650 B.C. On the other hand it is
important to remember that the Babylonians were astronomers and
mathematicians of no mean order, and that they exercised the greatest
possible care in calculating dates, that moreover Nabonidus was a king
of Babylonia, and therefore “a priori” likely to be in possession of
reliable traditions, if any existed, and further, that he lived 2500
years nearer to the time than we do. The inscription of Nabonidus in
question was found in the mound of Sippar near Agade. It says:—“The
foundation corner-stone of the temple E-ulba in the town of the eternal
fire (Agade) had not been seen since the times before Sargon King of
Babylonia and his son Narâm-Sin.... The cylinder of Narâm-Sin, son of
Sargon, whom for 3200 years, no king among his predecessors had seen,
Shamash the great lord of Sippara hath revealed to him.” Thus according
to Nabonidus, Narâm-Sin lived about 3750 B.C. The archæological evidence
is however so strong in this particular case, both negatively in regard
to the absence of any tangible evidence of the long interval in
question, and positively in regard to the stratification of the mounds
containing the relics of these two kings and also in regard to the
similarity between the earlier sculptures and inscriptions of
Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin and those belonging to the latter half of
the third millennium B.C., that we are no longer able to maintain the
implicit confidence in the historical accuracy of Nabonidus which early
scholars once had.

From the inscriptions of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin that have been
brought to light, we gather that the authors of these inscriptions were
Semites, in other words we learn that the empire of Agade was a Semitic
Empire, and since they extended their empire over all Western Asia, the
Sumerian power located more in the south must have proportionately
dwindled. But their Sumerian predecessors had established their
influence and power in Mesopotamia for a long and indefinite time before
this date, for Sumerian inscriptions which are almost certainly to be
assigned to the pre-Sargonic period give us the names of a large number
of early kings and rulers of Babylonia; their early date is shown by the
writing of these inscriptions which bear a more archaic stamp than those
of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin. For just as uninscribed sculptures
are relatively dateable by the style of art to which they conform, so
that it is possible to provisionally say that this sculpture or
cylinder-seal is older than that, because it presents a more archaic and
less finished style of art, so is it possible to approximately date
un-named and un-dated inscriptions by the style of writing adopted in
those inscriptions. We thus have two means at our disposal by which we
can assign uninscribed monuments of an early period to their relatively
correct places in the evolution of art and culture; on the one hand the
stratum of the ruined mound in which the object in question has been
found can often itself be relatively dated by actually inscribed
monuments found either in the stratum itself, or in the stratum
immediately above or below; or failing these, by the depth at which the
stratum lies below the top of the mound, though this latter alone is a
poor criterion owing to the fact that such accumulation will obviously
vary in different places. The value of all such evidence however depends
on whether or not the strata have been disturbed, as is often
unfortunately the case.

The reason why the ruins of Mesopotamian cities have assumed the form of
mounds lies in the fact that a conquering chief demolished the clay
walls and buildings of his vanquished foe, but instead of clearing the
débris away, he built on the top of it; for his new building operations
the new-comer often utilized part of the old material, hence the
uncertainty of a date assigned to an object, based on the mere
assumption that such object belongs to the stratum in which it has
ultimately found itself, without other corroborative evidence. On the
other hand we are in these days always able to apply the purely
archæological test, which depends upon a close examination of the style
of art or the mode of writing.

Some of these pre-Sargonic rulers already alluded to can be arranged in
strictly chronological order, i.e. the rulers of the city of Lagash, one
of the earliest centres of Sumerian civilization in Babylonia. Lagash
lies fifteen hours’ journey north of Ur and two hours’ east of Warka
(the ancient Erech), and it is Lagash which has provided us with more
material for our study of early Sumerian life and culture than any other
city in the Euphrates valley.

The order of the early pre-Sargonic rulers of Lagash is as follows:
Ur-Ninâ, apparently the founder of the dynasty, inasmuch as he bestows
no royal title on his father or grandfather, and his successors traced
themselves back to him; Akurgal, Eannatum, Enannatum I, Entemena,
Enannatum II, Enetarzi, Enlitarzi, Lugal-anda, and Urukagina. But though
their chronological order is certain, the length of their reigns is
unknown, and their dates can only be approximately ascertained, and
even these approximate and relative dates depend entirely on the date of
Shar-Gâni-sharri. Assuming the latter’s date to have been about 2650
B.C., Ur-Ninâ’s date would be roughly about 3000 B.C. Ur-Ninâ the first
member of the dynasty has left us a number of his sculptures and stelæ,
but there are other nameless works of art discovered either in the
neighbourhood or actually in Lagash itself which present a less
developed form of art, and where inscriptions are concerned, a more
archaic style of writing, while in certain cases the monuments in
question were actually discovered in the strata underneath the building
of Ur-Ninâ, and with these the history of Mesopotamian art and of the
civilization to which it bears such eloquent testimony commences.


The race to which the Sumerians belonged is not known, but the fact that
their language being agglutinative and not inflexional, was therefore
neither Aryan nor Semitic, but at least and in this respect akin to the
Mongolian languages, of which Turkish, Finnish, Chinese and Japanese are
the most illustrious examples to-day, has led certain scholars to seek a
connection between some of the Sumerian roots and certain Chinese words,
it must however be admitted that this supposed connection is rather
hypothetical at present. Further efforts have also been made by
Lacouperie and others to establish parallels between Chinese art and
culture and those of the Sumerians, but the evidence is not very


As the surface-soil of Babylonia did not originate there, but was
brought down by the rivers and deposited by them as their currents lost
impetus in approaching the sea, and were thus unable to carry their
burden further, it is well to trace this soil to its original source.
Both the Euphrates and the Tigris rise in the mountains of Armenia,[5]
the geological formation of which is chiefly granite, gneiss and other
feldspathic rocks. These rocks were gradually decomposed by the rains,
their detritus being hurried rapidly down-stream; the rivers in the
course of their career travel through a variety of geological formations
including limestone, sandstone and quartz, all of which contribute
something to the silt which is destined to form part of the delta’s
soil; the latter being composed mainly of chalk, sand, and clay, is
extremely fertile, which won for it a reputation testified to even by
the classical writers: thus Herodotus who flourished in the seventh
century B.C. tells us (I, 293) that “of all the countries that we know,
there is none which is so fruitful in grain. It makes no pretension
indeed, of growing the olive, the vine, or any other trees of the kind;
but in grain it is so fruitful as to yield commonly two hundredfold, and
when the production is greatest even three hundredfold. The blade of the
wheat-plant and barley is often four fingers in breadth. As for millet
and the sesame, I shall not say to what height they grow, though within
my own knowledge, for I am not ignorant that what I have already written
concerning the fruitfulness of Babylonia, must seem incredible to those
who have never visited the country.... Palm trees grow in great numbers
over the whole of the flat country, mostly of the kind that bears fruit,
and this fruit supplies them with bread, wine and honey.” However
exaggerated this account may be, all ancient writers agree in ascribing
to Babylonian soil a fertility and productivity surpassing that of any
other country with which they were acquainted.

But the present state of the country is very different from what it was,
neglect of cultivation having reduced it once more to a desert waste,
or, in the immediate neighbourhood of the rivers, to a pestiferous
marsh. The rivers have furthermore varied their courses time and again,
though this remark applies more to the sluggish stream of the Euphrates
with its low banks, than to the more swiftly flowing Tigris whose
current is confined by higher banks, and whose course has consequently
undergone less change. At the present time, great efforts are being made
to make amends for the neglect to which the once fertile plain of
Babylonia has so long been subject, and in the early part of last year
(1911) the firm of Sir John Jackson (Limited), contractors and
engineers, secured the contract for the building of a great dam at the
head of the Hindiyah Canal: this latter is a channel for which the
Euphrates has forsaken its own bed, and consequently the Euphrates’ bed
upon whose banks the city of Babylon lies, is in summer-time perfectly
dry, all the water flowing down the Hindiyah Canal except at the time of
the inundation. Thus it is that the population have practically ceased
to attempt the cultivation of the Euphrates’ banks, and have for the
most part migrated across country to this canal. The latter however,
being quite inadequate for the burden thus thrust upon it by the
undivided waters of the Euphrates, has become badly water-logged, and
much good land has become swamp. The Turks have been endeavouring for a
long time to erect a dam which would drive back part of the water into
the bed of the river, and thus at the same time make the regulation of
the flow in the canal a possibility, but they have not attained their
object. The engineers of Sir William Willcocks were successful in
filling up the space between the two arms of the barrage, but the dam
was almost immediately breached at another point. When however the
scheme now in hand is duly realized, the banks of the Euphrates will
once again be dotted with the fertility of bygone days, while the
district dependent for its prosperity upon the conditions of the
Hindiyah Canal will be similarly improved.

By the side of these rivers flourished the acacia, the pomegranate and
the poplar, but the tree which stood the Babylonians in best stead, was
the date-palm, from the sap of which they made sugar and also a
fermented liquor, while its fibrous barks served for ropes, and its
wood, being at the same time light and strong, was extensively used as a
building material. So many and so divers were the uses which the
date-palm served, that the Babylonians had a popular song[6] in which
they celebrated the three hundred and sixty benefits of this invaluable
tree. The important part which it played in the life of the early
Sumerian population is indicated by the epithet applied by Entemena to
the goddess Ninâ, whom he addresses as the lady “who makes the dates
grow,” while various amphora-shaped vats, and also a kind of oval basin
evidently used in the manufacture or preservation of date-wine were
discovered by De Sarzec at Tellô.

The date-tree finds a place on the Assyrian bas-reliefs, but it must be
confessed that the artistic products of the Babylonians and Assyrians do
not afford us so much information as might be expected regarding the
flora and fauna of the country. Vines and palms are of frequent
occurrence on the later bas-reliefs, while oaks and terebinths were also
known, for Esarhaddon uses them as material in his building operations
at Babylon, and cedar trees were regularly procured for the same

Of the various trees represented on early seals, hardly any can be
identified with any degree of certainty, the date-palm perhaps being
excepted: the reed of the marshes appears fairly soon, but the fig-tree
on the other hand occurs only in later times, which accords with
Herodotus’ intimation that they were not grown in Mesopotamia in his
day; this notwithstanding, they must have been known and presumably
cultivated sufficiently early, for amongst the offerings made by Gudea
(2450 B.C.) to the goddess Bau, figs are enumerated, while the
olive-tree must also have been known at an early date, for objects in
clay in the form of an olive belonging to the time of Urukagina are
still extant.

The Lotus is sometimes engraved on a seal, always in the hand of a god,
and with other Egyptian elements it is frequently found on the ivories
and bronze dishes from Nimrûd.

Millet and other cereals have been the subject of artistic delineation;
flowers of a nondescript character appear in later times, though the
conventional designs of the rosettes, so familiar in Assyrian art, an
example of which is to be found in Pl. XXX, without doubt owed its
origin to an actual attempt to reproduce a living flower, while ivy only
occurs on a late Græco-Egyptian cylinder, and on a Syro-Hittite cylinder
we find a representation of the thistle.

Reeds are found more often than any other tree or plant, alike on
cylinder-seals and bas-reliefs. They were in great demand for the
construction of huts and light boats, but the clay of their native soil
furnished an all-availing and all-abundant material for the building
operations of their palaces, temples and houses; its possibilities were
recognized at a very early date, and were made use of accordingly. Stone
is practically unknown in the low-lying plain of Babylonia,and when
required, it had to be quarried far away in the mountains and
transported at great cost and labour, hence it was comparatively seldom
used for artistic or decorative effects pure and simple, but was rather
employed where the desire for durability rendered it necessary; for this
reason the stone used in Babylonia is generally basalt, diorite,
dolerite or some other hard stone of volcanic origin. In Assyria on the
other hand, both alabaster and various kinds of limestone were easily
procurable, and were used largely for building purposes, while they
both, also, adapted themselves readily to the chisel of the sculptor
whose duty it was to record the chief events of the king’s reign in
pictorial form upon the walls of his palace.

Of the cereals, wheat, barley, vetches and millet were the most
important, and they all grew in large quantities, while as regards
domestic animals—horses, oxen, sheep, pigs, goats, asses and dogs were
the most familiar; upon the bas-reliefs from Kouyunjik, one of the
mounds representing the ancient Nineveh (the other being Nebi Yûnus
(“Prophet Jonah”), so-called by the natives, owing to their belief that
the prophet Jonah was buried there), camels are to be found, while they
also form part of the tribute brought by tributary princes to
Shalmaneser II King of Assyria 860-825 B.C., and are represented
accordingly on the bronze gates from Balâwât and on the so-called Black
Obelisk, principally famous for its representation of Jehu and his
tribute-bearers. The camels represented here belong to the double-humped
Bactrian breed, which have less staying-power than the single-humped
dromedaries of Arabia and Africa. In Babylonia at the present day, these
last-named are a most important means of locomotion, but in the hilly
country of Assyria, they are of less use, owing to their tendency to
slip on any but the flattest of grounds. There is apparently only one
isolated occurrence of a camel on a cylinder-seal, and that belongs to
the Persian period. The Assyrian word used for “camel” is probably of
Arabic origin, and Arabia was doubtless the home of the camel. As for
horses, oxen, sheep, goats and dogs, they are constantly represented in
Assyrian art. The horse being native to Asia, was in all probability
domesticated in Mesopotamia earlier than in Egypt; very early evidence
of its existence in Mesopotamia was thought to be afforded by an archaic
seal-cylinder, now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, in which a
god is represented driving a four-wheeled chariot, in contrast to the
Assyrian war-chariots which were two-wheeled; the chariot is drawn by an
animal of uncertain character, which Ward originally regarded as a
horse, but in view of a representation of a bull drawing a chariot,
found on an early Assyrian seal which he dates about 2000 B.C., it is
clear that the bull was used to draw chariots in early times, and Ward
accordingly regards the ambiguous animal alluded to, as also a bull. The
Sumerian name for the horse was “the ass of the mountains,” an
indication that the animal was first known to them in its wild state: we
find it figured on one of Nebuchadnezzar I’s boundary stone (_circ._
1120 B.C.), but it was certainly known in the valley much earlier. The
Hyksos, or shepherd-kings from Asia introduced the horse into Egypt
about 1700 B.C., while mention is made of horses in a letter from
Burraburiash the king of Babylon to Amenḥetep, king of Egypt about 1400

An extremely early fragment from Nippur (cf. Fig. 25, E) published by
Hilprecht and quoted and reproduced by Ward,[7] shows us a horned animal
dragging a plough, which Ward thinks may be a gazelle or an antelope; if
the latter be the case, we may perhaps infer that an animal of that
species was used for draft purposes before the bull, and certainly
before the horse. However that may be, in later days the horse seems to
have been reserved for the battle-field and the chase. The Assyrian
soldiers both rode them and harnessed them to their war-chariots, and it
is worth noticing how much more successful the Assyrian sculptors were
in their representations of the horse than the Egyptians. The horses on
the bas-reliefs apparently belong to a smaller, shorter and more
thick-set breed than Arabs, and the breed is still supposed to be extant
in Kurdistan. The Assyrians do not seem to have been in the habit of
endowing the horse with wings or with a human head, as they sometimes
did the bull and the lion, though some of the Pehlevi[8] seals and rings
of later days (A.D. 226-632) show figures of winged horses.

The _Ox_ with “long upright and bent horns” seems to have been
domesticated from the very earliest period, and it is represented on
cylinder-seals which by their inscriptions show that they belong to the
early period when the line-writing had not as yet been supplanted by its
later off-shoot cuneiform, while on one of these early seals (cf. Fig.
63) the god himself is depicted riding on one of these bulls; it is
however to be observed that the bull plays a less conspicuous part in
the artistic representations of Mesopotamia than in those of Egypt,
where the tombs so often exhibit the daily scenes of agricultural life.
Only very rarely is the bull represented on cylinder-seals or sculptures
as a sacrificial victim, the best example being afforded by a fragment
of the Vulture Stele of Eannatum; the same king informs us elsewhere
that he sacrificed bulls to the sun-god in Larsa, and a bull-calf to
En-lil, the lord of Nippur, who is better known under the Semitic name
of Bêl, a name which however he never bore;[9] if however the bull were
used but seldom in sacrificial worship, there is no doubt that he was
regarded throughout Mesopotamian history as the embodiment of, and
therefore the natural symbol for strength and fertility, while the
winged bulls of Sargon (cf. Pl. XXV) are the most familiar and perhaps
the most characteristic monuments of Assyrian art.

The _Mule_ was used as a beast of burden; carts were drawn by mules, and
women and children were borne by them, while they were used for carrying
merchandise, and for menial work of every kind; they are occasionally
seen on Assyrian bas-reliefs and form one of the subjects of
Ashur-bani-pal’s famous Hunting Scenes, where they are in charge of the
king’s servants.

The _Sheep_ was domesticated from the earliest times, but
representations of the goat are more common; in Fig. 62 we have an
extremely archaic seal on which a man is seen driving a goat followed by
two sheep. A further example of the goat and sheep is found on the early
stone relief seen in Fig. 25, F.

The _Goat_ is of frequent occurrence both on seals and also in
bas-reliefs. The goat was, as far as we can tell, the most commonly used
sacrificial victim, the worshipper often being represented as bringing a
goat in his arms. (For an early example of a goat in Babylonian art, cf.
the copper goat’s head from Fâra, 40, B.) Fig. The beard is sometimes
clearly delineated,[10] thereby showing it to be a goat and not an
antelope, while both the sheep and goat are well represented on the
bronze gate-sheaths from Balâwât. Though the sheep however does not
appear to have assumed so important a part as the goat in sacrificial
worship, it played a far more conspicuous rôle in augury, and
innumerable omens were deduced from an inspection of the various parts
of its liver.

The _Ass_ was known from the earliest period, both the wild ass, which
Ashur-bani-pal seems to have been so fond of hunting (cf. Pl. XX), and
also the domesticated ass. Ward has only found one example of its early
representation on cylinder-seals, but the god Nin-girsu’s chariot on the
famous Vulture Stele is drawn by an ass, and the fact that Urukagina,
one of the kings of the First Dynasty of Lagash, enacted that if a good
ass was foaled in the stable of one of the king’s subjects, the king
could only purchase it by offering a fair price, and that even then he
could not compel the owner to part with it, shows that the ass was in
common use in his day.

The _Dog_ finds a place on some of the earliest seals from Babylonia,
and is especially common on those representing the legend of Etana and
the Eagle (cf. Fig. 62): he also appears on the later Babylonian seals,
and is of very frequent occurrence in the Assyrian bas-reliefs.

Here they are seen employed in the chase (cf. Pl. XX). The Assyrian
hounds apparently resembled mastiffs, and according to Layard the breed
is still extant in Tibet though not in Mesopotamia. We have another good
reproduction of a dog on a terra-cotta plaque found by Sir H. Rawlinson
at Birs-Nimrûd (cf. Fig. 88), while Ashur-bani-pal has left us a number
of clay models of his dogs, made in one piece like the colossal bulls,
but rather crude in workmanship. Though we thus know little about the
breeds of dogs with which the Assyrians and Babylonians were familiar,
we at all events know, that they were acquainted with dogs of various
colours, for they derived omens from piebald dogs, yellow dogs, black
dogs, white dogs and the rest.

The _Gazelle_ was known in Mesopotamia from an early day, and he
sometimes appears to take the place of the goat as a victim for

The _Antelope_ is often found represented on early cylinder-seals, and
apparently it was occasionally yoked to the plough, as may be seen from
an early stone relief from Nippur,[11] but it is not always easy to
distinguish between the antelope and the goat in Babylonian art.

The _Ibex_ is similarly liable to be confused with the mountain sheep,
owing to the shape of their horns, but where correctly depicted, it has
a beard. A good and very early example of the Ibex is to be found
engraved on a fragment of shell belonging to the earliest Sumerian
period (cf. Louvre Cat. No. 222).

The _Boar_ was not often figured, but was without doubt sufficiently
common as it is to-day; it is found on an extremely archaic seal (cf.
Fig. 54), and numbers of little swine are repeated in four registers on
a later cylinder-seal, while on other seals, the huntsman is seen
spearing a boar, and lastly a sow with her young are represented on one
of the wall-reliefs from Sennacherib’s palace at Kouyunjik. It is
interesting to note that as early as the time of Khammurabi[12] pork was
a highly valued food, so much so that it frequently formed part of the
temple offerings, and Ungnad calls attention to one case where a certain
maleficent person stole one of the temple-pigs and paid a heavy penalty
for so doing, while in the official lists of the provisions for the
temple, various parts of the pig are specifically enumerated, while
from the inspection of pigs favourable and unfavourable omens were

The _Rabbit_ or _Hare_ is rarely found in early sculptures or
engravings, but it occurs on the later so-called Syro-Hittite cylinders,
and is occasionally portrayed on the Assyrian bas-reliefs.[13]

The _Oryx_, the _Mountain-Sheep_, the _Stag_, the _Tortoise_, the
_Porcupine_, the _Monkey_, all occur occasionally on the cylinders,
while as regards the monkey, he forms part of the tribute brought by
subject peoples to Shalmaneser II on the Black Obelisk, and is also
similarly depicted on the bas-reliefs which adorned the walls of
Ashur-naṣir-pal’s palace at Nimrûd, in both of which latter, the monkeys
represented appear to belong to an Indian species, and were clearly
novelties in the eyes of the Assyrians, who no doubt valued them

There are solitary instances of the _Fox_, the _Frog_ and the _Bear_,
but none of the foregoing play what may be called an important part in
the history of the country’s art. The _Lion_ and the _Serpent_ occupy a
prominent position in artistic representations, and were undoubtedly
familiar and formidable entities in real life, while the majesty of the
former and the subtlety of the latter were alone sufficient to obtain
for them a place in the mythological and heraldic symbolism of the
dwellers of Mesopotamia. The lion was known everywhere, in highlands and
lowlands alike, while he still haunts the low marsh country of
Babylonia. On the cylinder-seals he generally appears engaged in deadly
combat with Gilgamesh, the hero of Babylonian folk-lore, or his friend
Ea-bani who of course on all occasions worsts him; he is figured in clay
and stone from the earliest (cf. Fig. 26, B) to the latest times, he is
embroidered on garments, and decorates scabbards, while he plays an
all-important part in the heraldic device of the ancient city of
Lagash, which is composed of an eagle with outspread wings, clutching
two lions facing in opposite directions (cf. Fig. 27), doubtless
emblematic of the dominion exercised by the king of Lagash over the
peoples of the East and West respectively. He enjoys the doubtful honour
of being the peculiar object of the Assyrian King’s attention in later
days, and afforded him the sport which he loved above all others (cf.
Pl. XIX); individual kings slew great numbers, and Tukulti-Ninib I (1275
B.C.), to take a single example, places it on record that he slew some
920 lions, just as Amenḥetep III king of Egypt similarly boasts that he
killed 102 lions in the first ten years of his reign. Originally no
doubt lions were sufficiently plentiful, but as their numbers were
thinned, it became necessary to capture and preserve them in cages till
they were required for the royal hunt (cf. Pl. XXVII). The lion is
sometimes reproduced in colossal size, and endowed with wings and the
head of a man, in which capacity, stationed at the portals of the King’s
palace, his vocation is to ward off the advances of malevolent and
maleficent demons, while at other times, he is less fully equipped, and
is provided only with a head, bust and hands of a man. Always a creature
of weight in more ways than one, his body is not unfittingly adapted to
the requirements of the scales; a considerable number of bronze
lion-weights have come down to us, the workmanship of which was probably
Phœnician (as was also the ivory work of the Assyrian empire), while the
weight represented by each lion was inscribed in Phœnician characters.
Sometimes again the hollow bronze head of a lion formed the ornate
fitting of the end of a chariot-pole. As a general rule, the lion
emblematized the King’s enemies, hence it is that, whenever he is seen
engaged in conflict, he is always overpowered either by sheer bodily
strength as in the case of Gilgamesh, or transfixed by an arrow,
speared, or stabbed as we see him so frequently on the bas-reliefs of
Assyrian palaces. But lions were probably domesticated now and again as
they are to-day. On Sir Henry Layard’s first visit to Hillah, he was
presented with two lions by Osman Pasha; one of these, he tells us, was
a well-known frequenter of the bazaars, the butcher-shops of which he
was in the habit of regularly looting, but apart from this amiable
little vagary, he appears to have been fairly well-behaved. In his
description of the animal, Layard says that he was “taller and larger
than a St. Bernard dog, and like the lion generally found on the banks
of the rivers of Mesopotamia was without the dark and shaggy mane of the
African species.” He further informs us that he had however, seen lions
with a long black mane on the river Karûn, which river flows into the
Gulf not far from Moḥammerah in the extreme south of Babylonia; but
lions of either class are very rarely seen in Mesopotamia to-day, and
these as a rule, only at a distance.

The serpent played a smaller part in Mesopotamian art than the lion, but
at least from some points of view, a not less significant one. Two
serpents entwined round a pole form the centre of the device engraved on
the famous cup (cf. Fig. 90) dedicated by Gudea, patesi or priest-king
of Lagash about 2450 B.C., to his god Nin-gish-zi-da, who was apparently
emblematized by serpents, and on either side of the entwined reptiles,
are two winged and serpent-headed monsters, while in a few
cylinder-seals of the older period, we find a bearded god whose body
consists of a serpent’s coil. In this connection we may compare the
device on a cylinder-seal of the same Gudea (cf. Fig. 64), where the
intermediary god who is introducing the patesi to a seated deity, whom
Ward believes with some reason to be Ea, is characterized by serpents
rising from his shoulders.

But the most familiar example of the serpent in Babylonian mythological
representation is that of the seal on which two beings, perhaps divine,
perhaps human, are seated on either side of a tree, and behind one of
the two an erect serpent is figured; this seal owes its fame to the
opinion held by earlier scholars that this scene represents the
pictorial counterpart in Babylonia of the Hebrew tradition of the Fall.

Judging from the representations of snakes found on vases,
boundary-stones, cylinder-seals and elsewhere, the snakes prevalent in
Mesopotamia at the time when these monuments were prepared, must have
been of considerable size, while we know from the literature that some
of these snakes were poisonous. The Assyrian kings further make mention
of the prevalence of snakes in some of the countries whither they
conducted expeditions, or which were subject to them, thus Esarhaddon
for example tells us that the land of Bazu swarmed with snakes and
scorpions like grasshoppers.

Among other beasts familiar to the inhabitants of Mesopotamia may be
mentioned, the _Bison_ (“rimu”) an animal of the mountains and forests,
which plays a conspicuous part in the story of Gilgamesh; the old
pictograph for the bison consists of the head of an ox in which were
inclosed the three diagonal wedges which together signify “mountain,”
and thus indicate the place of its origin. Various species of the bovine
race have been identified on the cylinder-seals of Babylonia, showing
that at the time of the making of the seals, the memory of their
existence and probably the actuality of their presence were still felt
and known. The _buffalo_ which haunts the swamps of Southern Babylonia
often occurs on cylinder-seals belonging to the time of Shar-Gâni-sharri
and his successors, and is found engraved on fragments of shell
belonging to the earliest Sumerian period. Layard tells us that these
ugly animals which thrive in the marshes to-day supply the Arabs with
large quantities of milk and butter; they are normally managed with
ease, but they have a peculiar antipathy to the smell of soap, and in
consequence the odour of freshly-washed clothes is apt to irritate them
in no small degree. The wild-bull was assiduously hunted by the Sargonid
Assyrian kings, among whom we may especially mention Ashur-naṣir-pal in
this connection. (For a graphic illustration of that king’s exploits in
the chase cf. Pl. XVI). After the Sargonids, the bull-hunt appears no
longer as one of the principal royal sports, possibly owing to the
relentlessness with which these animals had been hunted down by the
kings of that dynasty. In the jungles, at all events in Layard’s day,
lions, leopards, lynxes, wild-cats, jackals, hyenas, wolves, deer,
porcupines and boars still abounded, while hyenas are sufficiently
common to-day.

The _Leopard_ is occasionally figured on the more archaic seals, but
seldom on those of later date, it is distinguished specifically by its
spots; a good example of the leopard is afforded by an archaic seal much
earlier than the time of Shar-Gâni-sharri.[14] It will thus be seen that
the artistic and literary bequests of Mesopotamia have aided us in no
small degree in our endeavour to get a general idea as to the
animal-world of that country in bygone days. Such however has been the
case, only to a very limited extent in regard to birds, where colour is
a more determining factor in their infinite variations than form and
shape: here it was that the Egyptian shone forth in all his native
genius, and succeeded in vividly depicting so many different kinds of
birds upon the walls of his tombs by the aid of his brush and colours.
In Assyria and Babylonia, on the other hand, where the artistic genius
of the people can never really be said to have used colours alone as the
mode of its expression, the only birds frequently found, are the eagle
and the vulture,—the eagle as the emblem of sovereign royalty, the
vulture as the ever-ready devourer of the remains of slaughtered
foes—though without doubt a great variety of birds haunted the plains
and marshes as they do to-day.

The _Eagle_, the royal bird _par excellence_, is the embodiment of
kingly rule in the heraldic arms of Lagash as early as the time of her
first dynasty, and by the time of Gudea (2450 B.C.) the double-headed
eagle, generally characteristic of Hittite art, has made its appearance.
It is upon the eagle’s pinions that Etana seeks unsuccessfully to ascend
to Heaven, which legend is pictorially represented (cf. Fig. 62) on
various archaic seals. In course of time the eagle becomes the aerial
support of Ashur, the god from whom Assyria derived its name, and lends
its form to the winged disc, which, as M. Heuzey well says, is a “yet
more mysterious emblem of divinity”; the Assyrians further deemed it
worthy to receive the honour of being united with the body of a man, the
composite creature thus produced being accredited with powers more than
those enjoyed by mere men, and apparently partaking of a semi-divine
character, while on other occasions we see its wings applied to the
human-headed body of a bull (cf. Pl. XXV) or a lion, the combined effect
of which must have been such as to stagger the boldest of subterranean

The long and bare-necked _Vulture_ is not of frequent occurrence in
Mesopotamian art, while on cylinder-seals, it only occurs on those known
as Syro-Hittite. The birds of prey from which the “Vulture-stele”
derives its name, no doubt are intended to represent vultures; as also
are the birds depicted on the bas-reliefs which adorned the walls of
Ashur-bani-pal’s palace at Nineveh,[15] for in either case they are
busily engaged in carrying off the sharply severed limbs and heads of
fallen foes.

The _Ostrich_ only appears in Mesopotamian art at a late period, though
in Elam rows of ostriches are found depicted on early pottery, closely
and inexplicably resembling the familiar ostriches on the pre-dynastic
pottery of ancient Egypt. It sometimes however assumes a conspicuous
position in the embroidery of an Assyrian king’s robe and is found also
on a chalcedony seal in Paris.[16]

The _Stork_, which in winter time feeds in the Babylonian marshes,
occurs on the cylinder-seals, but in some cases it is difficult to
determine the bird figured; the _Crane_ and the _Bustard_ both appear to
be represented, while we have an undoubted instance of the _Swan_ in a
soft serpentine seal which Ward regards as early Assyrian.[17] The
_Cock_ is confined or practically confined to cylinder-seals of the
Persian period.

_Ducks_ are known to have existed by the discovery of stone and marble
weights in the form of ducks, one of which is inscribed with the name of
Nabû-shum, and another with that of Erba-Marduk.

_Doves_ were used and appreciated from the earliest times, for Eannatum
informs us that he offered four doves in sacrifice to the god Enzu,
while _Swallows_ and _Ravens_ abounded, for in the Deluge-story, both
the swallow and raven as well as the dove are sent forth by
Ṣit-napishtim to ascertain how far the waters were abated.[18]

Locusts are found on one or two seals, and also appear as articles of
diet on the Assyrian bas-reliefs (cf. Layard, Series II, Pl. 9), where
they are seen strung up on a stick, while the scorpion is of frequent
occurrence on the cylinder-seals, and is found on some of the earliest.

Fishes figure alike on seals and on palace walls, but their presence
generally seems due to the artist’s desire to remove all doubt from the
spectator’s mind with regard to the water, of the success of his
reproduction of which he is by no means too sanguine. We have one
humorous episode in fish-life depicted on the walls of Sennacherib’s
palace at Kouyunjik, where a crab is seen effectually pressing its
nippers into the body of a luckless fish, while it also occurs once on a

Fish were undoubtedly used for food from the earliest times; thus
Eannatum records that he presented certain fish as offering to his gods,
while one of the reforms introduced by Urukagina, a king of the First
Dynasty of Lagash, was the deprivation from office of the extortionate
fishery inspectors. The marshes still abound in fish, some of which
attain to a considerable size; they are for the most part barbel or
carp, their flesh although coarse affording a regular supply of food to
the Arabs.

It was not unnatural or unfitting that in a country which had been
created and was yearly being created out of and at the expense of the
sea, and in which the principal means of transit were the rivers and the
canals, the fish as the lord of the waters should fulfil an important
place in the mythological and religious conceptions entertained by the
inhabitants of that country: thus it was that the god Ea of Eridu, one
of the most famous and most important of the Babylonian gods, and the
Oannes of the Greeks, who according to one account was the creator of
the world, was represented in the form of a fish.

But it is necessary to avoid falling into the danger of assuming that
all the animals, birds, fish and trees, either figured on monuments or
mentioned in the literature of antiquity, belonged to the fauna or flora
of Mesopotamia at the time when these engravings and sculptures were
executed; the only absolutely certain and equally obvious inference is
that the existence of such fauna or flora was known, while the degree of
familiarity of the artist with the specimen in question may, with a good
deal of reservation and allowance for the crudeness of early art, be
inferred from the comparative accuracy with which he has reproduced it,
and also the frequency of its occurrence on contemporaneous works of
art. With regard to the evidence of the literature, unfortunately in
many cases there is some uncertainty as to the identification of the
animals and plants alluded to, and furthermore, many of the animals
represented pictorially on the monuments or alluded to in the literature
form part of the tribute brought by subject states, the precise locality
of which, to complicate matters yet further, is often uncertain.
Sometimes, as in the case of the horse (cf. p. 15), the early
ideographic form of writing teaches us something about the origin of the
object mentioned, while the appearance of an animal or tree in early
Mesopotamian art, and the existence of the same tree or animal in
Mesopotamia to-day is good argument for including it among the ancient
fauna and flora of the country. Again with exceptions it may be assumed
that animals offered and accepted as tribute by the kings of Babylonia
and Assyria were utilized in some way other than merely being afforded
accommodation in a zoological gardens, in which connection we may
perhaps fairly infer that kings of Assyria who accepted camels from
vassal chiefs found use for them as a means of transit, though in the
rough country of Assyria itself the camel would not be of great use any
more than to-day, owing to the tendency of camels to slip on rough
ground, and the consequently practical necessity of confining their use
to flat sandy ground, such as is found in Babylonia, where they are seen
by the thousand to-day.


In the early days of Babylonian history, the country was divided up into
a number of small principalities or city-states, and the practical
realization of the approved truism that “unity is strength” was only
attained at a later date. In this respect also, the early history of
Babylonian civilization presents a parallel to that of ancient Egypt,
where we find the country similarly apportioned out into a series of
districts or nomes, which in course of time tended to amalgamate and in
fact crystallized into a northern and a southern kingdom. But in Egypt
the process of unification was carried a step further, and at about the
time of the First Dynasty, the inhabitants of Egypt owed allegiance to
one lord and one lord only—the king of the north and the south, his dual
sovereignty being emblematized by his assumption of the crown of the
north, and the crown of the south.

It is of course impossible to fix the date of the first appearance of
the Sumerians in Babylonia, but the sites of their earliest known
settlements were all situated in Sumer or Southern Babylonia, their
principal cities being Ur, Erech, Nippur, Larsa, Eridu, Lagash and Umma.
It is equally impossible to give anything in the nature of a definite
date for the occupation of Northern Babylonia or Akkad by the Semites,
suffice it to say that at the earliest period of which historical
records have been brought to light, there appears to be evidence of the
presence of Semites or Akkadians in Akkad alongside of the Sumerians in
Sumer. The principal centres of Semitic occupation were the city of
Akkad or Agade, Babylon, Borsippa (Birs-Nimrûd), Cutha, Opis, Sippar and

The city of Kish became an influential factor in Babylonian politics
from the most ancient times.

Thus a certain Mesilim, king of Kish, whose inscribed mace-head was
discovered at Tellô (Lagash),[19] informs us that he had dedicated the
same to the god Nin-girsu, during the patesiate of Lugal-shar-engur at
Lagash, and that he had further restored the temple of this same god.
Nothing further is known regarding this patesi of Lagash, but Mesilim
reigned at Kish at a very early date, for Entemena of Lagash commences
his historical sketch of the relationship which had existed between his
own city and that of Umma with the period of Mesilim.

Now the racial origin of Mesilim is a matter of doubt, but there is no
doubt as to the Semitic origin of Sharru-Gi, Manishtusu and Urumush,
later kings of Kish, whose reigns must be assigned to the pre-Sargonic
period, and it is perhaps therefore reasonable to suppose that the
earlier Mesilim was also a Semite. If that be the case, the mace-head of
this ruler contains evidence that the early Sumerian city of Lagash was
at one time under the domination of Semites, and conclusively proves
that—so far as documentary evidence is concerned—Sumerians and Semites
existed side by side in Babylonia from the earliest period of
Mesopotamian civilization.

Some time after, Lagash succeeded in asserting her independence, and
many of her subsequent rulers style themselves “kings.” The First
Dynasty of Lagash which was seemingly founded by Ur-Ninâ established
themselves securely for some considerable time, but the reign of
Urukagina saw the end of the dynasty, and the capture and sack of the
city by Lugal-zaggisi, a ruler of the neighbouring city of Umma.

The limits of Lugal-zaggisi’s empire included Ur, Erech, Larsa and
Nippur, and he was undoubtedly one of the most powerful rulers of his
day. Other pre-Sargonic kings whose power was specifically associated
with Erech and Ur, were Lugal-kigub-nidudu and Lugal-kisalsi, but the
extent of their sway cannot be estimated with any degree of certainty.

In the time immediately preceding the establishment of the empire of
Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin, the rallying point of the Semitic forces
of Akkad seems to have been the city of Kish, the conquests of whose
three kings Sharru-Gi Manishtusu and Urumush prepared the way for their
successors at Agade. Thus both Manishtusu and Urumush seem to have
extended their power southward into the land of Sumer, while both these
kings warred successfully against Elam.

The empire of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin was however destined to
entirely eclipse that of their forerunners, for it not only embraced
Mesopotamia north and south, but also Syria and Palestine, and was in
fact the first Babylonian empire worthy of the name.

Meanwhile the power of the Sumerians in the south had received a
temporary check, and the patesis of Lagash, and other Sumerian centres
at the time, clearly ruled on sufferance and not on the strength of
rights which they were prepared to assert successfully in the

But on the accession of Gudea about 2450 B.C., the momentarily smoking
flame of Sumerian influence in Babylonia was kindled anew, and a strong
anti-Semitic wave set in. This wave does not seem to have been
characterized by a series of wars or battles, for the records of Gudea,
the most powerful ruler among the later patesis of Lagash, seldom refer
to anything in the nature of military achievements, but the
extensiveness of his building operations testifies to the abundance of
resources at his command, while the names of the countries which he laid
under contribution for building-materials conclusively prove that the
influence exercised by Lagash during the reign of Gudea was
considerable. The list of the places from which he derived wood and
stone includes the mountains in Arabia and on the Syrian coast, while he
obtained copper from the mines in the Elamite territory east of the

But the importance of Lagash was soon to pass away, and Ur became the
dominating power in Babylonia. The dynasty of Ur (_circ._ 2400 B.C.),
which lasted close on 120 years, was founded by Ur-Engur. He included
the whole of Southern Babylonia within his sphere of influence, while in
the north, he has left evidence of his architectural undertakings at
Nippur; hence he styled himself the “King of Sumer and Akkad,” but the
fact that his son and successor Dungi found it necessary to reduce
Babylon indicates that his authority in Akkad was not unquestioned.
Dungi reigned 58 years, during which he reduced the whole of Babylonia
beneath his sway, and apparently annexed the greater part of Elam. So
firmly had he established his control over Elam, that we find the
capital of that country (Susa) still retained by his successors, though
frequent expeditions had to be undertaken to maintain the “status quo.”

The dynasty of Ur would appear to have been brought to an end by an
invasion of Elamites; at all events Ibi-Sin, the last king of Ur, was
carried away by the Elamites, and the rule in Babylonia then passed to
the city of Isin. The dynasty of Isin lasted some 225 years, during
which Babylonia enjoyed great prosperity.

In the latter part of the first half of this period the power in
Babylonia seems to have passed temporarily into the hands of Gungunu,
king of Ur and Larsa, who laid claim to rule over the whole of Sumer and
Akkad, but his supremacy was of short duration, and Isin soon recovered
her position as the paramount power in Babylonia.

Meanwhile the Semitic element in the north was gradually regaining its
ascendency, and finally asserted itself as a concrete fact in the
establishment of a dynasty by Sumu-abu, at the city of Babylon itself,
about 2000 B.C.

At about this time the Elamites established themselves in Southern
Babylonia at Ur and Larsa under Kudur-Mabuk and his sons Arad-Sin and
Rîm-Sin, and during the earlier part of the dynasty exercised a
suzerainty over the whole of that region. Subsequently Rîm-Sin met with
a severe defeat at the hands of Khammurabi, the most illustrious king of
the dynasty and the Amraphel of the Book of Genesis, while he met with
his death at the hands of Samsu-iluna, Khammurabi’s successor. With the
death of Rîm-Sin Elamite power in Babylonia came to an end.

Khammurabi consolidated the power of Babylon, and extended his influence
on all sides, but his chief title to fame depends upon his codification
of Babylonian law. But Babylon’s supremacy in the south was soon to be
successfully challenged by Iluma-ilu who founded a kingdom on the shores
of the Persian Gulf, and inaugurated the so-called “Second Dynasty” of
the lists of the kings.

Iluma-ilu was a contemporary of Samsu-iluna, whose attacks he twice
repelled. Abêshu’, the successor of Samsu-iluna on the throne of
Babylon, similarly tried to reduce the rebellious “Country of the Sea”
beneath his sway, but without success, and from this time on, Southern
Babylonia was ruled over by the kings of the “Country of the Sea.”

But Samsu-iluna had another foe to contend with, besides the southern
rebels, a foe moreover ultimately destined to subjugate the whole of
Babylonia, under whose rule she was governed for several centuries.

The Kassites were a warlike people whose home lay on the east of the
Tigris, and to the north of Elam, and they apparently commenced raiding
Babylonian territory in the reign of Samsu-iluna, though they do not
seem to have materially affected the Babylonian power. About a century
later however, the dynasty of Babylon was brought to an end by an
invasion of the Hittites of Cappadocia who sacked the city, destroyed
the temple of the great city-god, Marduk, and carried off his statue as
a trophy. The Hittite conquest must have paved the way for the invasion
of the Kassites who established themselves securely on the throne of
Babylon for a very long period. At first their sphere of influence would
appear to have been confined to the northern half of the plain, but
later on they extended their power to the Country of the Sea.

Meanwhile, Assyria in Northern Mesopotamia had emerged as a separate and
independent kingdom, and already the signs of her future greatness were
visible on the horizon.

The date of the colonization of Assyria is not known, but in any case it
must have been before the time of Khammurabi, for the country bore the
name of “Assyria” in his time, and was embraced within the limits of his
empire. The struggle for supremacy finally ended in a victory for the
northerners who under their king Tukulti-Ninib (_circ._ 1275 B.C.)
effected the conquest of Babylonia. In addition to his title “King of
Assyria,” Tukulti-Ninib styled himself “King of Karduniash (i.e.
Babylon), King of Sumer and Akkad.” From that date down to the
destruction of Nineveh (_circ._ 606 B.C.), and the foundation of the
short-lived Neo-Babylonian empire by Nabopolassar, Babylonia takes a
subsidiary place in the political history of Western Asia.

The immediate successors of Tukulti-Ninib I appear to have been
perpetually engaged in war with the Babylonians, who at no period of
their history readily submitted to the Assyrian yoke. Tiglath-Pileser
I’s accession to the throne about 1100 B.C. inaugurated a new period in
the history of Assyrian expansion. Some of the mountain-tribes who had
owed allegiance to former Assyrian monarchs had revolted, and
Tiglath-Pileser made it his business to crush them. The northern
Moschians who sixty years previously had been the vassals of Assyria,
had under the leadership of five kings invaded the territory of
Commagene, but they were effectively reduced by Tiglath-Pileser, and the
land of Commagene was conquered “throughout its whole extent.”

Various other tribes in the north, of whom the Nairi would appear to
have been the most important, were similarly brought beneath the
Assyrian sway.

In a campaign against Babylonia he was also successful for the moment,
and effected the reduction of Babylon, Sippar, Opis and other cities in
Lower Mesopotamia. But his triumph here was short-lived, and the
Assyrians were expelled by Marduk-nadin-akhê, the king of Babylon, who
further invaded Assyria, and carried off the statues of some of the
Assyrian gods.

Ashur-bêl-kala, the son and successor of Tiglath-Pileser I, retrieved
the fortunes of the Assyrian arms in the south, and forced
Marduk-shapik-zêrim the successor of Marduk-nadin-akhê to sue for peace.

But after the reigns of Tiglath-Pileser I’s two sons, Assyria suffered a
severe disaster at the hands of the Hittites, and lost the territory
gained by Tiglath-Pileser. Northern Syria which had been compelled to
acknowledge the suzerainty of Tiglath-Pileser, now asserted her
independence, and for some time remained the mistress of her own

Thus Assyria for the time being lost her position as a world-power, and
it was only in the reign of Tukulti-Ninib II (890-885 B.C.) that her
fortunes began to revive. The Nairi were again reduced by this king, and
apparently the whole of the valley of the Upper Tigris was once more
subjugated. Ashur-naṣir-pal (885-860 B.C.) carried on the work of
expansion and re-conquest. With the further extension of Assyrian power
northwards, the need of a capital occupying a more central position than
ancient Ashur was at once realized, and accordingly Ashur-naṣir-pal
transferred the seat of his government to Calah (Nimrûd) some forty
miles north of Ashur.

Nearly 500 years before, Shalmaneser I had laid the foundations of a
town at Calah, but the unsettled circumstances of the time had retarded
its growth. Ashur-naṣir-pal demolished what remained of the old town,
and founded a new town on the same site, and for at least a century
Calah remained the capital of the empire.

Ashur-naṣir-pal also extended his sphere of influence in a westerly
direction and made a triumphal march through Northern Syria, but he
appears to have cautiously refrained from coming into collision with the
powerful king of Damascus.

Ashur-naṣir-pal’s son and successor, Shalmaneser II (860-825)
consolidated the work of his father and grandfather and at the same time
made fresh conquests himself. His campaigns in the west brought him into
contact with the Israelites, and we find Ahab, king of Israel, mentioned
as one of the Syrian allies who rebelled against him. Some years later,
Shalmaneser became the suzerain of Israel, and received tribute from
Jehu, the usurper.

After the reigns of Shalmaneser’s immediate successors, the power of
Assyria began temporarily to decline, and the subject nations asserted
their independence, but in 745 B.C. Tiglath-Pileser III, or Pul as he is
called in 2 Kings xv. 19 and elsewhere, ascended the throne, and
restored the influence and authority of Assyria in Western Asia. His
wars in Syria meant disaster to Israel and the loss of independence to
Judah. Ahaz, king of Judah, had sought the help of Tiglath-Pileser
against the allied forces of Rezin, king of Damascus, and Pekah, king of
Israel. Tiglath-Pileser at once seized this golden opportunity of
interfering with the internal affairs of Palestine, defeated Israel and
Damascus, and carried the Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad and the
half-tribe of Manasseh into captivity (734 B.C.). Hoshea, assassinator
and usurper, purchased the right to the throne of Israel for ten talents
of gold and a certain amount of silver, but in the reign of
Tiglath-Pileser’s successor, Shalmaneser IV (727-722 B.C.) he became
involved in an intrigue with Egypt, which led to his deportation to
Assyria where he spent the rest of his days as a prisoner. Meanwhile
Samaria, the capital of his kingdom, was beleaguered, and after a two
years’ siege was captured by Sargon, who deported the larger half of the
population into Assyria. Sargon, “the son of a nobody,” i.e. a usurper,
was one of the greatest of the Assyrian kings (722-705 B.C.) and was the
first to come into actual conflict with the Egyptians. Palestine as a
whole showed no alacrity to take up arms against her powerful overlord,
but the Philistine town of Gaza, in reliance on the support of Egypt,
refused to submit. Hannon the Philistine commander, on failing to
repulse the Assyrian army retreated on Raphia, a town bordering on the
Egyptian frontier, where he was joined by Shabê the Egyptian general. At
Raphia the opposing armies joined battle, and after a fierce encounter,
the allies had to retire before the better equipped and more
disciplined army of Sargon. On his return, Sargon found it necessary to
again subdue Babylonia, and he also carried on war with Elam. He was
succeeded by his son Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.). After having suppressed
the revolts which always seem to have signalized the accession of a new
king, Sennacherib invaded Syria, established his authority over northern
Palestine, reduced the rebellious Philistine city of Askelon, and then
proceeded to attack the city of Ekron, to whose assistance an Egyptian
army had rallied. Their combined forces were routed by Sennacherib at
Altaku, and Ekron fell. Judah next occupied his attention; having
captured numerous small towns and enslaved some 200,000 of the
inhabitants, he proceeded to lay siege to Jerusalem. Hezekiah the king
of Judah, withstood the siege for some time, but pressed by famine, he
was compelled to yield and purchased the safety of his city by stripping
the Temple of its treasures. Sennacherib thereupon returned to Assyria,
but two years after, Hezekiah’s repudiation of his suzerainty occasioned
another expedition to Palestine. The Assyrian troops first stationed
themselves at Lachish, whence Sennacherib dispatched a messenger to
Hezekiah to demand his instant surrender. Meanwhile Sennacherib marched
westward with a view to engaging the Egyptian army lying at Pelusium,
one of the frontier towns of Egypt. But a sudden catastrophe—possibly an
outbreak of plague—overtook the Assyrian host, and Sennacherib returned
to Nineveh. On his arrival home, he found it necessary to once more
suppress rebellious Babylon, and to render his work more lasting, he
completely destroyed the city (689 B.C.). Towards the end of his reign
he conducted a campaign in Cilicia where he defeated the Greeks and is
said to have laid the foundations of the city of Tarsus. In 681 B.C. he
was murdered by his sons, and the crown eventually settled on the head
of Esarhaddon (681-668 B.C.). The most striking event of his reign was
the conquest of Lower Egypt (672 B.C.), but towards the end of his reign
Tirhakah, the Ethiopian king of Egypt, recaptured Memphis and threatened
to put an end to the Assyrian domination; his subjugation was one of the
first acts of Ashur-bani-pal, the successor of Esarhaddon. Judah also
became disaffected, but she was speedily reduced to submission and her
king Manasseh was removed into captivity.

Ashur-bani-pal succeeded Esarhaddon in 668 B.C. The work of
re-establishing the Assyrian power in Egypt occupied some time and was
finally accomplished by the capture of Thebes (666 B.C.). Under
Ashur-bani-pal Assyria attained the height of her power both at home and
abroad, and the limits of her empire were extended further than ever
before. After a lengthy war, Elam was subdued, but she subsequently
joined Shamash-shum-ukîn, the brother of Ashur-bani-pal, and viceroy of
Babylonia, in an organized revolt against Assyria, which resulted in the
defeat of Shamash-shum-ukîn, and the ultimate capture and sack of Susa
the Elamite capital (_circ._ 640 B.C.).

While Ashur-bani-pal was thus preoccupied with Babylonia and Elam, Lydia
on the one hand, and Egypt on the other seized the opportunity to throw
off the yoke of their suzerain. Lydia was reduced, but Egypt succeeded
in maintaining her independence. Towards the close of Ashur-bani-pal’s
reign, the wheel of fortune had already begun to turn, and clouds were
already gathering on the eastern horizon. The Medes had made an inroad
into Assyrian territory before his death in 626 B.C., and a few years
after that event, Cyaxares king of the Medes inflicted a defeat on the
Assyrian army and laid siege to Nineveh. But the end was temporarily
stayed by the advance of the Scythian hordes.

Shortly afterwards Nineveh was again attacked by Cyaxares and
Nabopolassar, an Assyrian general in command of Babylonia, and after a
two years’ siege the city was taken and destroyed (_circ._ 606 B.C.).
Assyria now passed under the power of the Medes, and Babylonia fell to
Nabopolassar who founded the New or Neo-Babylonian empire. This late
Babylonian empire only lasted about seventy years in all. Nabopolassar
was succeeded by Nebuchadnezzar, who at the time of his father’s death
was engaged in a campaign against Necho king of Egypt, upon whom he
inflicted a severe defeat at Carchemish. His Palestinian expeditions led
to the capture of Jerusalem, and the removal of a large part of the
population of Judah into captivity. Both Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, kings
of Judah, strove to throw off the Babylonian yoke but without avail.
Nebuchadnezzar’s successors did little deserving of narration, and in
the reign of Nabonidus, Babylon, which was under the command of
Belshazzar, was captured by Cyrus, 539 B.C., and Babylonia passed under
the rule of the Persians. She remained under Persian rule until the time
of Alexander the Great’s ascendency when she became a Greek province.


The history of the actual excavations properly commences with the first
expedition sent out to dig, but there is one scholar who, although he
did not excavate on any large scale, was the first to bring cuneiform
inscriptions to Europe and on this account deserves special mention.

C. J. Rich, born in 1787 at Dijon, was from the early age of nine
attracted to the study of Oriental languages, and in course of time made
himself master of Hebrew, Persian, Aramaic and Arabic, while he is said
to have attempted to read Chinese Hieroglyphics at the phenomenal age of
fourteen. In 1803 he became a Cadet in the East India Company’s service,
his military post being subsequently exchanged for a civil appointment.
After visiting Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor and other countries, he
returned to Bombay, but was, before the age of twenty-four, appointed
the East India Company’s resident at Baghdad. In 1811 he visited the
ruins of Babylon, an account of which is to be found in his “Memoir on
the ruins of Babylon,” while his visit to Nineveh is recorded in his
“_Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan and on the site of ancient
Nineveh, with Journal of a voyage down the Tigris to Baghdad, and an
account of a visit to Shiraz and Persepolis_.” It is moreover to Rich
that we owe our first accurate plans of both Nineveh and Babylon. In the
course of his travels, he made large collections consisting chiefly of
Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Aramaic and Syriac manuscripts, a number of
Greek and oriental coins, and also many antiquities from Babylon and
Nineveh, including the first cuneiform tablets seen in Europe: his
collections were acquired by the Trustees of the British Museum, after
his death from cholera in 1820.

But as the pioneer in the actual field of excavation, M. Botta, the
French Consul at Mosul, occupied the first place in point of time. In
the year 1842, on the advice of Mohl, he began the exploration of the
Mound of Kouyunjik, one of the two mounds which mark the site of the
city of Nineveh, but meeting with scant success, he transferred his
attention in 1843 to the Mound of Khorsabad (the town of Chosroes) some
miles north of Mosul, where he laid bare the ruins of a palace which
proved to be that of Sargon, king of Assyria (722-705 B.C.) and the
father of Sennacherib. In the year 1851 the French Assembly voted the
money for an expedition to Babylonia, and also for another expedition to
Assyria, the object of which was to complete the excavations which
had been commenced with so much promise at Khorsabad: this expedition
was directed by Victor Place who at the same time succeeded Botta as
French Consular agent at Mosul. During the years 1851-1855 Place
completed the excavation of Sargon’s palace, and also laid bare the
surrounding buildings and rooms, carrying his work right up to the wall
of the town; Khorsabad was found to contain the ruins of a whole
fortified town, which had remained entombed for some 2500 years: the
town was named Dûr-Sharru-ukîn after its founder Sargon. The four corners
of the city walls were oriented towards the four cardinal points, the
walls themselves being pierced by eight enormous gates, each of which
was named after an Assyrian deity. The palace had been built on a
terraced mound 45 feet high, which was made of crude or unbaked bricks,
and was protected by a casing-wall of large square stones. The palace
contained wide halls, adorned with sculptures, winged bulls and the
like. The floors of the various chambers consisted generally of stamped
clay, and were no doubt hidden from view by elaborate rugs, sometimes,
however, tiles or blocks of marble concealed the unsightly clay.

The walls were of great thickness, i.e. from 9-1/2 to 16 feet, while in
one place they measured as much as 25-1/2 feet. The inner walls of the
less important chambers were only covered with a white plaster
surrounded by black lines, the so-called women’s apartments, on the
other hand, being decorated with frescoes and white or black arabesques.
Marble statues were unearthed in the harem court, and the remains of a
ziggurat or stage-tower—a characteristic feature in Mesopotamian
temples—were brought to light. Place’s excavations were not so
productive of large sculptures and monuments as those of Botta had been,
but they were particularly fruitful as regards smaller objects of glass,
stone, clay, and metal.

The first Englishman to enter the field was Layard who in 1845, only two
years after Botta’s first expedition, commenced excavating the ruined
mounds of Nimrûd. Nimrûd, which proved to be the ancient Calah, was
built on a rectangular plateau just as Khorsabad had been, and the
exploration of its site yielded a rich harvest of new materials for the
reconstruction of the history of the past. Ashur-naṣir-pal, king of
Assyria (885-860), following the example of Shalmaneser I (about 1300),
removed the seat of government from Ashur forty miles northwards, to
Calah, where he built a palace for himself, the excavation of which was
one of Layard’s greatest triumphs. This palace occupied the
north-western portion of the mound and was in part restored by Sargon;
to the north of this palace of Ashur-naṣir-pal lay the site of the
temple of Ninib or Adar, the god of war. Shalmaneser II (860-825) the
successor of Ashur-naṣir-pal, also built a palace at Calah, on the
south-east of that of his predecessor; this palace, known as the central
palace, was almost entirely rebuilt by Tiglath-Pileser III, the Biblical
Pul (745-727 B.C.).






At the south-west corner, the palace of Esarhaddon (681-668) was
excavated, in the construction of which, that king utilized the
materials of the older palaces in the most unscrupulous fashion, but the
building was found to have been much damaged by fire. North of
Esarhaddon’s palace and south of that of Ashur-naṣir-pal, lay the
comparatively small palace of Adad-nirari III (812-783 B.C.), and in the
south-east corner of the parallelogram the insignificant remains of the
palace of Ashur-etil-ilâni (about 625) one of the last of Assyria’s
monarchs were brought to light.

Thus Layard discovered and excavated the remains of some seven royal
palaces at Nimrûd; of these seven that of Ashur-naṣir-pal was by far the
most important from the archæological and historical standpoint.

Wall bas-reliefs, human-headed winged lions and bulls (cf. Pl. XXV),
obelisks, bronze bowls, iron reaping-hooks and spear-heads, carved ivory
panels and mirrors, a “silver-plated” sceptre-head, and a variety of
bells are a few among the many valuable finds at Nimrûd, each of which
makes its contribution, be it small or be it great, to the restoration
of a page of human history and cultural evolution.

But undoubtedly the most impressive monuments yielded by Assyrian
excavations are the gigantic winged bulls and lions which were stationed
at the royal palace gates. The removal of these monsters of oriental
antiquity was an even more difficult task than their excavation, and
taxed the inventive powers of both French and English explorers to the

Those excavated by the French at Khorsabad were embarked piecemeal for
Paris, the parts into which they had been sawn, with a view to
facilitating their transit, being fitted together again in the Louvre,
the museum which they now adorn. Layard however adopted a different
method in effecting the transport of the winged bulls from Nimrûd to
London, by means of which he successfully brought them over intact
without breaking them up in any way; the extraordinary difficulties
involved in this feat give us a vivid conception of the similar
difficulties which the Assyrians must have had to overcome in the
removal of these solid stone masses from the quarry to the entrances of
the palaces, and in the exact adjustment of them in their specific
places. Layard gives us a detailed description[20] of the plan he
devised for the removal of some of these unwieldy monsters, of which
thirteen pairs had already been discovered. His first efforts were
directed towards two of the smaller colossi. The first and greatest
problem to be solved was how to lower them without risk of their falling
and so being broken. The sculptures were first of all wrapped in mats or
felt to mitigate the effect of any misfortune that might befall them,
either through the ropes giving way or cutting the soft stone. Heavy
wooden rollers had been procured from the mountains; these were placed
upon sleepers laid parallel to the sculpture, and it only now remained
to lower the winged creature on to the rollers; this was effected by
means of ropes skilfully applied, the descent of the gradually sinking
monument being checked by thick beams which supported it in its fall and
were gradually withdrawn as the occasion required. As the bull
approached the rollers the beams had to be entirely removed, the whole
of the weight and strain thus being on the cables and ropes, which
stretched until finally they reached breaking point, and the bull fell
some four feet or more to the ground, but fortunately without being
damaged. A trench of about 200 feet in length, 15 feet wide, and in some
places 20 feet deep, having been duly made through which the bull might
proceed on the rollers to the edge of the mound—this course was
necessary owing to the impossibility of lifting such a massive
weight—the giant animal was slowly pulled by a large number of Arabs to
the end of the trench and down the slope of the mound, where it was
lowered on to a specially-constructed cart, which had been a nine days’
wonder to the natives ever since its appearance. The cart itself was
fitted with two strong axles which had been used by Botta in the removal
of sculptures from Khorsabad. “Each wheel was formed of three solid
pieces, nearly a foot thick, from the trunk of a mulberry tree, bound
together by iron hoops. Across the axles were laid three beams, and
above them several cross-beams, all of the same wood. A pole was fixed
to one axle to which were also attached iron rings for ropes to enable
men as well as buffaloes to draw the cart. The wheels were provided with
movable hooks for the same purpose.” The mulberry wood used had of
course to be procured in the mountains, there being no wood of the
required substance or size in the Mesopotamian valley. Buffaloes were
first harnessed to the pole, while a number of men tugged at the ropes
attached to the wheels and the movable hooks, but the buffaloes appear
to have soon struck, and they were consequently taken out, the whole of
the work now being done by three hundred Arabs. At length, after
multitudinous efforts, the bull arrived at the river where it was landed
on a specially-prepared platform from which it might slide on to a raft.
Thus much for the obstacles to be surmounted in the mere removal of
these enormous blocks of stone by an excavator of the nineteenth
century, from which we may form a small and very inadequate estimate of
the indomitable zeal and invincible energy of the Assyrians some
twenty-six or twenty-seven centuries ago in quarrying, carving,
transporting and fixing the guardian genii.


[Illustration: _From Layard_


Calah (Nimrûd) was the capital of Assyria for 220 years (885-668), but
at the close of that period she had to yield her pre-eminence to
Nineveh, which Sennacherib rebuilt and which was the capital of the
empire from his time till the end of the chapter, i.e. till about 630
B.C. Sennacherib naturally built a palace at his new capital, Nineveh,
and the discovery and excavation of this palace are also due to the
indefatigable efforts of the late Sir Henry Layard and his assistant
Hormuzd Rassam. This palace of Sennacherib occupied the south-west
corner of the northern of the two groups of mounds known as Kouyunjik
which mark the site of ancient Nineveh, Ashur-bani-pal’s (668-626 B.C.)
palace being located immediately to the north of it. Unfortunately
Sennacherib’s palace suffered from fire when the Medes took the city in
606 B.C. in consequence of which most of his wall bas-reliefs are
greatly marred. The complete excavation of this palace was the great
triumph of Layard’s second campaign (1849-1851), and the bas-reliefs
taken from the walls of its seventy or more halls and chambers now form,
in spite of their comparatively bad state of preservation, one of the
most priceless possessions of the British Museum. But one more
epoch-making discovery in the annals of Mesopotamian excavations must be
attributed to this world-renowned excavator.

One day Layard discovered two chambers connected with each other, and
after removing the débris, he found that “to the height of a foot or
more from the floor they were entirely filled with cuneiform tablets of
baked clay, some entire, but the greater part broken into many

In point of fact he had chanced upon part of the library of
Ashur-bani-pal, one of Assyria’s greatest kings; the library appears to
have been stored partly in the northern palace, that of Ashur-bani-pal
proper, and partly in the south-western palace built by Sennacherib; it
was in the latter that the rooms referred to were found; the other half
of this great library of the later Assyrian kings was subsequently
unearthed by Rassam. The contents of these tablets, made of the finest
clay and ranging from one to fifteen inches, are as varied as the
tablets themselves. Some of them contain historical records, others
astronomical reports, or mathematical calculations: there are also
letters of a private and public character, but the majority of the
tablets deal with astrology and medicine, both of which subjects were
intimately connected in the mind of the Babylonian. Prayers,
incantations, psalms and religious texts in general, formed a
considerable part of this library, and as a large proportion of the
“volumes” or tablets are not original works but copies from earlier
Babylonian productions, the value of the library,—now known under the
name of the “Kouyunjik collection,”—for the study of the religious and
mythological conceptions of both the Babylonians and Assyrians is more
than can be adequately estimated. Many of the tablets are bilingual, the
ideographic Sumerian being provided with an Assyrian interlinear
translation, and these, together with other tablets of the collection
containing syllabaries in which the Sumerian value, the Assyrian name,
and sometimes the Assyrian meaning of different signs are given, have
been of the utmost use in the rediscovery of the languages of
Mesopotamia. Layard also visited Babylonia, and began to excavate at
Babylon and Nippur, but his Babylonian operations were not attended with
the extraordinary success of his excavations at Nineveh and Calah.

In 1851 a French expedition was sent out to Babylonia under Fresnel and
Jules Oppert: they secured various relics from the ruined mounds of
Babylon, among which may be especially mentioned a fine collection of
coloured-brick fragments, but unfortunately all was lost through a
mishap on the Tigris in 1855.

In 1852 Rassam succeeded Layard in the field, and at once had to contend
with difficulties resulting from Rawlinson’s concessions to Victor
Place, to whom he had transferred the right of excavating what remained
to be excavated at Kouyunjik, which from Rassam’s point of view fell
within the sphere of British influence, and to which therefore British
excavators had a prior claim. In 1853 Rassam commenced operations at
Ḳalat Sherḳât, but apart from the discovery of two clay prisms inscribed
with the annals of Tiglath-Pileser I (1100-1080 B.C.), the ancient Ashur
did not yield much fruit on this occasion. At Calah, the scene of
Layard’s brilliant triumphs, Rassam discovered E-zida, the temple of
Nebo, the god who vied with Marduk for the first place in the Babylonian
pantheon of later days, and whose name is commemorated in the names of
several of the kings of the first Babylonian empire, as also in three of
those of the second empire, the most familiar of whom is the Biblical
Nebuchadnezzar; six large statues of the god were brought to light, two
of which at all events are by their inscriptions shown to be
contemporaneous with the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III (812-783); a
stele of King Shamshi-Adad II (825-812 B.C.), and the remains of an
inscribed obelisk of Ashur-naṣir-pal complete the list of his principal
finds on this site. But his name will be for ever associated with
Kouyunjik; his first efforts were productive of no very great results
beyond the discovery of a limestone obelisk of Ashur-naṣir-pal covered
with bas-reliefs, and now in the Assyrian Transept of the British
Museum, and a female torso from the palace of Ashur-bêl-kala, king of
Assyria about 1080 B.C. (cf. Pl. XXIV). Rassam however profited by
Victor Place’s omission to make use of the permission accorded to him by
Rawlinson to explore the northern part of Kouyunjik, but at the same
time took the precaution of making his initial operations under the
cover of night. His nocturnal labours were crowned with the greatest
success which the excavators of those days could have—the discovery of a
new palace—and after he was satisfied on this point, the digging was
allowed to proceed during the daytime, as it is a recognized rule that
the discoverer of a new palace has established his claim to the complete
excavation of it, as against the rest of the world. The newly-discovered
palace turned out to be that of Ashur-bani-pal, king of Assyria (668-626
B.C.), in whose reign Assyria attained the height of her power both at
home and abroad, extending her sway even as far as Thebes, the capital
of Upper Egypt, which was taken and sacked by this king in B.C. 666.
But Ashur-bani-pal as well as being a great warrior, was also a great
huntsman, and the bas-reliefs which he caused to be sculptured upon the
walls of his palace at Kouyunjik, in commemoration of his exploits in
the chase, are probably the masterpieces of Assyrian art. They thus
testify not only to the sportsmanship of this king, but also to the
encouragement which he gave to art, while Rassam’s further discovery of
the other half of Ashur-bani-pal’s library has shown that king to have
been an even greater patron of literature than there had hitherto been
reason to suppose.


[Illustration: _Both from Layard_



In the spring of 1854, funds failed and Rassam was in consequence
obliged to return, but shortly afterwards he accepted a political
appointment at Aden. The meanwhile, work had already been commenced in
Babylonia by W. K. Loftus who carried on small excavations at Warka, the
ancient Erech, the ruins of which are the largest in Babylonia, but
though many interesting antiquities were unearthed, none of them are of
an epoch-making character, the slipper-shaped coffins belonging to the
Parthian period, being perhaps the best known. Owing to the fact that
Erech has been occupied during the greater part of its history, i.e.
some 5000 years, it is not a fruitful mine for early antiquities.
Senkereh (Larsa) on the other hand, which has been identified with the
Ellasar of Genesis xiv. 1, seems to have remained more or less
unoccupied after the Persian period, and hence it is a better site for
the exploration and study of the earlier history of Southern
Mesopotamia. Inscribed bricks from Senkereh show that Khammurabi (the
Amraphel of Genesis xiv.?), and the most famous king of the first
dynasty of Babylon, repaired the ancient temple-tower there, as also did
his Neo-Babylonian successor, Nabonidus, some fourteen centuries later,
while the famous Nebuchadnezzar of Old Testament fame had also not
neglected it in his works of restoration. The lower strata of the mound
showed that Ur-Engur, King of Ur, whose reign may probably be assigned
to the latter part of the third millennium B.C., had also made his
presence felt in this ancient city of Larsa. Subsequently Larsa shared
the fate of other early Babylonian cities, and was used as a cemetery:
the tablets found near the coffins apparently belong to a much earlier
date, and were probably found by the grave-diggers to whom their altered
position is to be ascribed. Excavations were also conducted at the same
time at Tell Sifr, which resulted in the discovery of about a hundred
so-called case-tablets (i.e. tablets protected by a clay cover or
envelope), belonging to the time of the first dynasty of Babylon, which
in their turn led to the discovery of a hitherto unknown king of this
dynasty, Samsu-iluna, the successor of Khammurabi.

When Loftus was excavating at Warka at the beginning of 1854, J. E.
Taylor, the Vice-Consul at Basra, undertook excavations on behalf of the
British Museum at Muḳeyyer, the site of the ancient city of Ur. He
commenced operations on what appeared at the time, and what ultimately
turned out to be, the principal building of the city, the temple of the
Moon-god Sin, in the four corners of which he discovered four clay
cylinders, and also another barrel-shaped cylinder the inscription of
which is of even greater importance than those of the corner-cylinders.
We learn that Ur-Engur, King of Ur, built the temple, that his son Dungi
repaired it, and that Nabonidus the last King of Babylon restored it
some two thousand years later. These foundation-cylinders of Nabonidus
proved of great historical interest, the inscription on each of them
concluding with a prayer for Bêl-shar-uṣur, the King’s son and heir, the
Belshazzar of Daniel v., who was in command of Babylon at the time of
the capture of the city by Cyrus. Taylor also conducted excavations on
other Babylonian sites, the most important of which was Abû Shahrein,
the ancient Eridu whose god Ea was one of the most illustrious as well
as one of the most time-honoured gods in Babylonia. Its ruins are
smaller than those of Ur, but they contain the remains of a
temple-tower, consisting of two storeys, which Taylor laid bare. From
the inscribed bricks recovered, the identification of this site with the
ancient Eridu was established.

Towards the end of the year 1854, Sir Henry Rawlinson commenced
excavating Birs-Nimrûd, the Borsippa of antiquity; he commenced digging
at the four corners of what ultimately proved to be the famous E-zida,
the temple of Nebo, in search of clay cylinders such as had been found
at the corners of other Babylonian buildings; he recovered two such
foundation-cylinders which turned out to be duplicates, together with
fragmentary parts of other cylinders, all of which had been deposited
there by Nebuchadnezzar.

Soon after Rassam’s return from Assyria in the year 1854, Loftus entered
the service of the Trustees of the British Museum, and was sent out to
continue the excavation of Kouyunjik. Loftus ably followed up the work
of his predecessor; new reliefs were brought to light, the most
celebrated of which perhaps is that of Ashur-bani-pal and his queen
reclining at meat in the garden (cf. Pl. XXI), but again though the
spirit was willing, the funds were weak, and Loftus had to abandon all
hope of completing the excavation of the palace of Assyria’s most famous

The abundant harvest, yielded by these numerous excavations in
Mesopotamia, and stored away in the Museums, afforded a supply of
material copious enough to occupy the intellectual acumen of the savants
for some time to come, while the general public whose interest in these
archæological expeditions depended on the tangible results forthcoming,
were inclined to await the decipherment and publication of the
accumulated mass of clay tablets, monuments and stelæ already to hand,
before furnishing the necessary funds for any fresh expeditions, and it
was not till 1873 that George Smith, the able assistant of Sir Henry
Rawlinson, whose discovery of the Babylonian account of the Deluge had
alike won for him great fame, and also kindled again the enthusiasm of
the public in the cause of excavation, was enabled, thanks to the
munificence of the proprietors of the “Daily Telegraph,” to personally
conduct an expedition to Mesopotamia. In the January of that year Smith
set out for Mosul, but on his arrival, he found to his dismay that the
requisite firmân had not as yet been granted by the Turkish Government,
and he accordingly journeyed southward, examining the ruined mounds of
Nimrûd and Ḳalat Sherḳât on the way. In northern Babylonia he spent but
a short time which he employed in visiting the sites of Babylon,
Borsippa (Birs-Nimrûd) and other ancient ruins, but by the beginning of
April, he obtained the necessary permission to excavate in Assyria, and
accordingly returned at once to Mosul. His attention was first of all
directed to Nimrûd, the scene of so many of Layard’s triumphs, but his
predecessors in the field had reaped their harvest to the full, and the
gleanings which remained were poor and meagre.

In the following month he transferred the seat of his operations to
Kouyunjik, with a view to discovering the remainder of Ashur-bani-pal’s
library. The work was far from easy owing to the complete state of
confusion in which the ruins then were, partly owing to the work of
earlier excavators, partly owing to the builders of the bridge at Mosul
who had made use of the remains of Assyria’s ancient buildings for the
construction of the bridge, and partly owing to the instability of some
of Layard’s tunnels, which had the meanwhile collapsed. Here too, the
harvest was past and the summer of Assyrian excavations was ended, but
the object which the “Daily Telegraph” proprietors had in view was
realized in the discovery of another fragment of the Babylonian account
of the Deluge, which proved to fill in the chief lacuna in the story.
Smith had entertained the hope that this all-important discovery would
be an inducement to his financiers to grant an additional sum for the
continuation of the work, but they declined. Smith accordingly had
reluctantly to set his face westward and return to London, but before
the year was out he was on his way back to the Orient, the Trustees of
the British Museum having voted £1000 for another expedition thither.
He arrived at Mosul on New Year’s Day 1874, and recommenced his quest
for tablets, but the time at his disposal was short, his firmân expiring
in the ensuing March; this notwithstanding, in the three months spent at
Kouyunjik on these two expeditions, he brought to light some three
thousand tablets dealing with a variety of different subjects, and
providing invaluable material for the student of Babylonian and Assyrian
astronomy, theology and chronology. To him is due not only the
rediscovery of the Babylonian story of the Flood, but also of portions
of the Creation legends, and of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero of
Babylonian folk-lore, while to the student of Old Testament History, his
discovery of Sargon’s own account of his campaign against the city of
Ashdod recorded in the twentieth chapter of Isaiah is of paramount
importance. In the spring of 1876 Smith conducted his third and last
expedition to Assyria, under the auspices of the British Museum, the
value of whose collections he had already so greatly enhanced. But he
arrived to find the cholera rampant all over the country, and confusion
and disorder reigned everywhere. To excavate under such circumstances
was an impossibility, but Smith spared no effort in his futile endeavour
to overcome the impossible, boldly facing all dangers and difficulties,
but he ultimately succumbed to the disastrous effects of climate and
exposure, and died at Aleppo in August 1876, a martyr to the cause of
science. George Smith was not only an excavator, but also a scholar, and
his scholastic achievements are the more praise-worthy, when it is
recollected that he was practically a self-educated man, who by dint of
his extraordinary perseverance and indomitable will succeeded where
other men of perhaps greater ability failed, and who on that account
alone is entitled to the prominent place which he occupies in the annals
of Assyriology.

Soon after the death of George Smith in 1876, the Trustees of the
British Museum requested Rassam to resume his long-abandoned labours in
Assyria, and after some unavoidable delay, operations were commenced in
January 1878. The work was greatly facilitated by the presence of Sir
Henry Layard as British special representative at Constantinople, for
the latter having always been on friendly terms with the Turkish
Government, was consequently able to secure concessions which might well
have been denied to anyone else. Rassam’s marching orders were
sufficiently explicit, he was sent out to continue the excavation of
Nineveh, but his heart was bent on the discovery of palaces and temples
rather than on the comparatively unexciting task of searching for
tablets, the importance or non-importance of which could never be
determined off-hand, without a detailed study of the contents. His
ambition was satisfied shortly after his arrival: a year before his
resumption of the work of Assyrian exploration two portions of a bronze
door-panel covered with figures and cuneiform characters had been sent
to him by a friend, and immediately on his return to Assyria he made
enquiries as to where these pieces of worked metal had been unearthed.
He soon discovered that they formed part of a large bronze door-panel
discovered quite accidentally by a peasant in a mound, some fifteen
miles east of Mosul, called Balâwât. Accordingly, his immediate desire
was to discover the remainder of this unique monument of ancient
metallurgy, and with that end in view he determined to explore the
Balâwât mound. He discovered that the site had been used as a cemetery
by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, and was consequently outside
the limits of his firmân, but disregarding the risk of a collision with
the authorities and the still more imminent risk of inciting the native
population to open resistance, for no people civilized or uncivilized
are in the habit of passively acquiescing in the disinterment of their
dead, he determined to hazard everything in pursuit of his prize.
Success attended his efforts, and very soon after the cutting of the
first trenches, fragments of bronze plates similar to those which had
previously come to light, were unearthed. In the course of a short time,
the remaining panels were duly restored to the light of day: these
panels had once upon a time decorated the wooden gates of a large
building, to which they were affixed. The scenes portrayed thereon
represent incidents in the life and campaigns of Shalmaneser II (860-825
B.C.), the successor of Ashur-naṣir-pal, and the first Assyrian king who
is known to have come into immediate contact with Israel. In the course
of his excavation of the mound, he came across the ruins of a small
temple, and a large coffer made of marble containing two tablets made of
the same material and bearing inscriptions of Ashur-naṣir-pal. Rassam’s
work at Kouyunjik and Nimrûd was also far from fruitless, though Nimrûd
certainly failed to yield a harvest in any way comparable to that of
bygone days, a few bas-reliefs, a number of clay tablets and some
enamelled tiles practically comprising all that Nimrûd contributed to
the study of Assyrian antiquity on this occasion. So too at Kouyunjik,
clay inscriptions were the chief and indeed practically the only fruits
of the excavations carried on by Rassam during his four expeditions
(1878-1882). The most epoch-making of these inscriptions consisted in a
ten-sided baked clay prism containing the annals of Ashur-bani-pal, and
four barrel-shaped cylinders inscribed with an account of Sennacherib’s
various campaigns. Rassam further attempted the complete exploration of
Nebi Yûnus, the second large mound which marks the site or part of the
site of ancient Nineveh, but he did not meet with the success which his
indefatigable efforts deserved, owing to the innate factiousness and
aptitude for intrigue which lie dormant in the Oriental breast even at
the best of times, and which on this occasion so far from being dormant,
showed themselves in all their pristine vigour, the result of which was
the cessation of Rassam’s labours, and the final dissipation of all his


[Illustration: _Déc. en Chald., Plate 53, ii_


[Illustration: _Déc. en Chald., Plate 54_


Meanwhile excavations were also going on in Babylonia, excavations
moreover which were destined to usher in a new era of Babylonian
exploration, and which proved of incalculable value both to the
archæologist, and also to the student of early art. In the spring of
1877, some few months before Rassam’s return to Assyria after an
interval of a quarter of a century, Ernest de Sarzec, the French
Vice-Consul at Basra, started tentative operations at the ruined mounds
of Tellô, whither his attention had been directed by J. Asfar, a native
Christian, and formerly a dealer in antiquities. Tellô had already won
for itself a name as a site likely to repay the labour entailed in its
methodical excavation, in consequence of the discovery of inscribed
cones and bricks in its ruins, and needless to say, it has more than
lived up to its early reputation, for of all the ancient sites of
Babylonian civilization, Tellô has yielded by far the richest harvest of
material for the reconstruction of Sumerian history, and the systematic
study of Sumerian art and culture. It would be impossible here to
chronicle all the far-reaching results of De Sarzec’s immortal work, and
we must therefore content ourselves with a notice of the more important
of his discoveries. On his very first visit to Tellô he was fortunate
enough to find a portion of a dolerite statue lying at the foot of one
of the mounds, from which he correctly inferred that the statue itself
must have originally occupied a position in some large building, the
ruins of which he assumed to be lying concealed within the mound in
question. He accordingly commenced excavating the mound, and very
shortly discovered that it contained a building of no small dimensions,
erected upon a large platform of crude, or sun-dried bricks: the objects
which he unearthed comprised a large statue of dolerite bearing an
inscription of Gudea, priest-king of Lagash about 2450 B.C., inscribed
door-sockets, sculptures and vases, copper statuettes of a votive
character, and last but most important of all, the first fragments of
the Vulture stele of Eannatum, one of the most famous works of early
Babylonian art, both in regard to its antiquity and also in regard to
the manner in which it illustrates not only the artistic but also the
military operations of the Sumerians at this remote period (cf. Pl.
XII). In his next two campaigns (1880-81) he systematically excavated
the building in the mound generally known as “A,” in the course of which
he discovered some nine or ten dolerite statues, numerous statuettes,
and a stone vase of Narâm-Sin, son of Shar-Gâni-sharri of Agade, who
probably lived some few centuries before Gudea. The building itself,
which in the main belongs to the Parthian-period, but in which part of
the old palace of Gudea had been incorporated is briefly discussed on
page 149. But as Prof. Hilprecht[21] truly says, the dolerite statues of
Gudea “will always remain the principal discovery connected with De
Sarzec’s name,” famous alike for the animation and life with which they
are inspired, and also for the skill and dexterity which these early
Babylonians display in their treatment of the hardest stones. Among
other valuable or rather invaluable finds may be mentioned the
well-known silver vase of Entemena (cf. Fig. 45), the carved mace-head
of Mesilim, an enormous copper spear-head, and some bas-reliefs of
Ur-Ninâ, the founder of the First Dynasty of Lagash. In mound “B,” De
Sarzec’s excavations not only laid bare the building of Ur-Ninâ (cf. Pl.
V) but also revealed the remains of a yet earlier structure lying
beneath the edifice of this ancient ruler, and resting on a pavement
some 16 feet below Ur-Ninâ’s platform. Copper statuettes and stone
bas-reliefs of a most archaic character were also brought to light on
this occasion.

In 1889 De Sarzec left Babylonia, not to return till 1894, when he
renewed his excavations in mound “B.” Two wells and a watercourse of
Eannatum’s time were discovered, while among the small relics of this
long-forgotten age were various pieces of shell carved with pictures of
trees and animals. It would be altogether impossible to over-estimate
the debt which both the historian of early Babylonia, and the student of
early Mesopotamian art owe to the work of that distinguished excavator;
if to Layard, Botta, and Place is due the opening up of the book of
Assyria’s ancient history, and the breaking of the seals that had kept
that book closed for so long a period, to De Sarzec we owe the recovery
of an even earlier page in the history of human life and progress. The
last quarter of the 19th century which embraced the period of De
Sarzec’s extraordinary activity in the archæological field (the first of
his expeditions being conducted in 1877 and the last in 1900) will
remain for all time memorable for the epoch-making discoveries in
Babylonia, discoveries which posterity will for ever associate with the
name of the illustrious French excavator.


[Illustration: _Déc. en Chald., Pl. 56, ii_


[Illustration: _Déc. en Chald., Pl. 57, ii_


The meanwhile Rassam, had used to the utmost the facilities granted to
him under the generous terms of the 1878 firmân, and had covered as much
ground and visited as many sites as possible, though whether science
would have gained more by the systematic exploration of a few mounds
than by the ransacking of many is a question which would probably have
to be answered in the affirmative. In 1879, he commenced operations in
Babylonia, the ruined mounds of Babylon and Borsippa being the first to
receive his attention. On his arrival he found a number of Arabs busily
engaged in extracting building material from the Babil mound, and in the
course of their digging they came upon four wells, some 140 feet deep,
and made of blocks of red granite, each block being about 3 feet high,
and fitted to the adjoining block with an extraordinary degree of
precision. From the general appearance of the mound as well as from the
magnitude of the ruined walls which it covered, Rassam came to the
conclusion arrived at by Rich nearly a century before, and accepted by
Hilprecht some years later, that to Babil we must look for the
world-renowned hanging gardens of Diodorus and Pliny.

Rassam’s trenches on the Ḳasr mound were attended with no important
results, but his work at the Jumjuma mound in the South,—so called from
the name of the modern village now situated there,—yielded a rich
harvest of tablets, mostly of a commercial character. Borsippa in like
manner responded to the appeal made to it by the spade of Rassam, many
tablets being recovered, while a large part of the renowned temple of
E-zida, dedicated to the god Nebo, once again saw the light of day: among
the smaller relics, the recovery of a bronze step of the famous
Nebuchadnezzar is deserving of special mention, and also a baked clay
cylinder of the time of Antiochus Soter 270 B.C., the latter being,
according to Hilprecht, “the last royal document composed in the Old
Babylonian writing and language.” But perhaps Rassam’s most valuable
contribution to Assyriology was the identification of the site of
ancient Sippar. Many unsuccessful attempts had previously been made to
locate this city, so frequently mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions,
and already George Smith had tentatively suggested the mound of Abû
Habba, located about thirty miles north of the City of Babylon, as its
possible site, but to Rassam we owe the actual identification of the
site of this old centre of the worship of Shamash the Sun-god in the
Babylonian plain. The ruins of Abû Habba are low but extensive, the
longest of the ancient city-walls measuring some 1400 yards, while on
the western side the remains of an old ziggurat, or temple-tower are
still to be seen. Rassam’s excavations on this site were abundantly
successful, the most important of his discoveries in the ancient
building with which he was principally concerned, being the famous stone
tablet of Nabû-aplu-iddina, king of Babylonia, about 870 B.C. The
inscription which records the restoration of the temple of the Sun-god
by that king is surmounted on the obverse side by a magnificent
bas-relief representing the worship of the Sun-god (cf. Pl. XIV and p.
205). The recovery of this remarkable tablet, apart from the value
attaching to it as a work of art and a historical document, meant
further the identification of one of the earliest sites of Mesopotamian
civilization, and the rediscovery of the time-honoured shrine of
Shamash. Among the other inscriptions unearthed on this occasion, the
large clay cylinders of Nabonidus (555-538 B.C.), the last king of the
Neo-Babylonian Dynasty, are of paramount importance. Allusion has
already been made to the tradition recorded by Nabonidus on his cylinder
regarding the date of Shar-Gâni-sharri of Agade, and his son Narâm-Sin,
and also to the archæological evidence calculated to diminish the
historical value of Nabonidus’ record (cf. p. 5). Rassam reconnoitred
many other sites in Babylonia, notably that of Tellô, from which he
recovered a few objects, including a number of tablets and two
gate-sockets inscribed with the name of Gudea, during his swift and
somewhat stealthy visit in the early part of 1879. But the three great
triumphs of the excavator whose long career came to its natural end in
1910, were the identification of Sippar’s long-forgotten site, the
discovery of the bronze gates at Balâwât, and last but far from least,
the unearthing of Ashur-bani-pal’s northern palace at Nineveh, and the
disclosure of the priceless relics of art and literature which it was
found to contain.

Meanwhile other nations besides the French and the English were
preparing themselves for the work so remarkably commenced, and so full
of promise for the future. Germany was slow to move, but thanks to the
munificence of Mr. L. Simon, an expedition was sent out to the Orient in
the autumn of 1886, under the auspices of the Royal Prussian Museums of
Berlin, and under the directorship of B. Moritz, R. Koldewey and L.
Meyer. But in spite of the tardiness of German activity in the field of
exploration, it must never be forgotten that to Friedrich Delitzsch
belongs the unique honour and glory of having placed Assyriology upon a
scientific basis, and in a real sense that distinguished scholar may be
regarded as the father of that science. At the same time Delitzsch’s
predecessor Schrader deserves a special mention, as being the first to
lecture in Germany on this subject, and to whose lectures Delitzsch and
other scholars doubtless owed much. The 1886 expedition commenced
operations early in 1887 at the ruins of El-Hibba and Surghul, two
mounds situated close to each other to the north-east of Tellô, which
resulted in the discovery of buildings innumerable, mostly of a private
character; the small relics yielded by the German excavations on these
two sites were for the most part considerably damaged by fire which had
played much havoc in both places.

But the chief point of interest in regard to the excavations at El-Hibba
and Surghul was the discovery of a number of early graves. Many of the
bodies had been burnt, from which Koldewey inferred that cremation[22]
was one of the ways in which the Sumerians of antiquity disposed of
their dead. Many of the inscriptions recovered were published by the
lately deceased Dr. Messerschmidt. The tablets in question include texts
belonging both to first and second Dynasties of Lagash (Tellô). One of
the tablets unearthed at Surghul and written by Gudea, the most famous
ruler of the Second Dynasty of Lagash, showed that both El-Hibba and
Surghul acknowledged Gudea as their suzerain-overlord.

At about the same time, the excavating spirit in America was also
gradually fanning itself into life, and to-day America is doing more
archæological work than any other country in the world.

The ancient city of Nippur had long been known as one of the most famous
centres of Babylonian religion, and of the worship of the great god
En-lil, and it was accordingly to this city that the Americans first
directed their attention, and it was here that they made those
epoch-making discoveries which have won for them so prominent a place in
the history of Mesopotamian excavation, and that in spite of all the
controversies which have arisen out of those discoveries. The
Americans had indeed sent out an expedition to Babylonia as early as
1884 under the directorship of Dr. W. Hayes Ward of the New York
“Independent,” but the object for which it was sent was general
exploration rather than for actual excavation. The first expedition
(1888-89) to Nippur, which was organized chiefly by Prof. J. P. Peters,
who was supported by Dr. Wm. Pepper, Provost Harrison, Messrs. E. W.
Clay, C. H. Clark, W. W. Frazier, and others, was chiefly tentative in
character, and served rather to show the magnitude of the work to be
accomplished than to achieve any definite and practical results. Peters
was the director of the first and second (1889-90) expeditions, while
Prof. R. F. Harper and Prof. H. V. Hilprecht were appointed
Assyriologists to the first expedition, Mr. Field being the architect.
The first expedition was engaged in excavating for two months and nine
days, while the second excavated for three months and eleven days. Dr.
Haynes was the field-director of the third expedition (1893-96), and
remained at the mounds of Nippur for nearly three years without a break.
The fourth expedition (1898-1900) was conducted by Hilprecht as
scientific director, Haynes as field-director, and Messrs. C. S. Fisher
and H. V. Geere as architects, and during the last campaign excavations
were carried on for some sixteen months, and led to many important

The first expedition, as stated, was of a preparatory character, and
consequently its results cannot be estimated merely by the number of
discoveries actually made. During the short two months in which the
excavators continued operations, a large building characterized by
enormous buttresses and two round towers was brought to light. The
building—without doubt a fortress—is of comparatively late date,
belonging to the Parthian period, and was built upon the ancient temple
of En-lil and its staged tower.

Bint-el-Amir, the mound which contained the ruins of this renowned
temple, was conical in shape and covered a surface of more than eight
acres.[23] A scientific examination of a mound of such gigantic
proportions was in itself no light task, while the exploration of the
buried temple was a work of pioneering, none of the large Babylonian
temples having as yet been completely excavated.

The excavation of this temple proved that the stage-tower “did not
occupy the central part of the temple-court,” and though it was
undoubtedly the most conspicuous feature of the temple-area, it was not
actually the temple itself: the latter is to be found in a large
building adjacent to the stage-tower. This building is at all events as
early as the time of the Shar-Gâni-sharri and his son Narâm-Sin. The
stage-tower, which probably never had more than three stages, owed its
latest form to Ur-Engur, king of Ur (_circ._ 2400), though
Ashur-bani-pal, King of Assyria nearly two thousand years after, had
occasion to repair and restore it. The bricks of Ashur-bani-pal, which
are intermingled with those of Ur-Engur, bear the stamped inscription,
“To Bel, the King of the lands, his King, Ashur-bani-pal, his favourite
shepherd, the powerful King, King of the four quarters of the earth,
built E-kur, his beloved temple, with baked bricks.” Four feet behind the
facing-wall of Ur-Engur, large bricks characteristic of Narâm-Sin’s time
were discovered, while the bricks of which the innermost core of the
tower was formed belong to the pre-Sargonic and early Sumerian

The extreme antiquity of the lower strata in this mound may be gauged
from the fact that Haynes in descending into the pre-Sargonic period
below the pavement of Narâm-Sin, penetrated through some thirty feet of
ruins before he arrived at the virgin soil.



(_From C. S. Fisher’s “Excavations at Nippur,” by permission_)]

One of the most interesting discoveries in the early strata was a
vaulted drain (cf. Fig. 15 and p. 170) which purports to be the earliest
Babylonian arch known, while a large number of terra-cotta pipes as well
as a terra-cotta drain were also brought to light. The smaller objects
include votive stelæ (cf. Fig. 25), tablets, cylinder-seals and
terra-cotta vases (cf. Figs. 92, 93). But a large number of relics
contained in the strata above the level of Narâm-Sin were found to be
pre-Sargonic in spite of their position in the mound. They included
door-sockets, fragments of vases, slabs, statues, and more than fifty
brick-stamps, bearing an inscription of Sargon or Narâm-Sin.

But the discovery and partial excavation of the Temple “Library”[25] or
“archive” at Nippur have produced the most far-reaching and epoch-making
results, for thereby literally thousands of tablets have been
unearthed, affording an amount of new material for Assyriological study
seldom paralleled in the history of Babylonian exploration.

The greater part of the excavated material[26] is scientific or literary
in character. The majority of the tablets are unbaked, and have
consequently suffered from the detrimental effects of time, climate and
other influences, among which may be particularly mentioned the havoc
wrought by the invading Elamites during the third millennium B.C. In
consequence of this, the decipherer’s task is much more arduous than it
would otherwise have been, but in spite of the vandalism of the Elamites
and the work of destruction which they sought to, and to some extent did
accomplish, the archæologist probably owes the preservation of these
tablets to their burial in the ruined débris of which they formed a
part. These unbaked clay tablets seem to have been generally arranged on
shelves made of clay and about 1-1/2 feet wide, while they contain every
variety of “literature,” treating of astronomy, astrology, mathematics,
geography, history, medicine, grammar and religion. One of the tablets
gives us valuable information regarding the temple itself; the name of
the great hall of the temple was Emakh, and though En-lil and his consort
were without doubt the principal deities of the place, there were some
twenty-four shrines dedicated to other gods, just as was the case in
E-sagila, the great Temple of Marduk at Babylon, recently excavated by
the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft.

The late Assyrian, neo-Babylonian and Persian periods are also well
represented in the enormous accumulation of cuneiform tablets recovered
from this site, among the most interesting of which are the “Murashû
Tablets,” seven hundred or more of which were unearthed in a ruined
building some twenty feet below the surface. The care with which these
tablets had been made, and the numerous seal-impressions which they
bore, at once attracted Hilprecht’s attention. They proved to belong to
the business archives of Murashû Sons, brokers and bankers at Nippur,
who flourished in the time of the Persian kings, Artaxerxes I (464-424
B.C.) and Darius II (423-405 B.C.). But apart from ordinary banking
business, the firm acted as an agent for the Persian kings. Apparently
the kings of Persia were in the habit of farming out the taxes like the
Roman emperors of later days, and Murashû Sons undertook to levy the
king’s taxes from their Babylonian subjects in Nippur and elsewhere. The
interest of these tablets is not however confined to the information
which they afford us in regard to the mode of conducting business at
that period; but they are of even greater value for the insight which
they give us into the ordinary life of the people.

It was during the last expedition that the city-walls were carefully
examined, and also those which enclosed the temple-area, the name of the
former being Nîmit-Marduk and the name of the latter Imgur-Marduk.
Access to the temple was gained by a gate in the southern wall, which
was at all events as old as the time of Shar-Gâni-sharri of Agade. The
“Abullu Rabu,” the great gate of the city, was situated to the
north-east of the Temple; its length is 35 feet, by which we know that
that was the thickness of the wall itself, though unfortunately nothing
remains of the old city-wall at this point, the crude bricks of which it
was composed having been removed and used for building materials in the
later Nippur structures. The gateway itself consisted of a central road
some 13 feet wide used for ordinary traffic, on either side of which
was a raised passage for pedestrians, while the whole structure was
built of thumb-marked bricks, and is therefore pre-Sargonic. Under the
central roadway a foundation consisting of massive blocks of stone laid
in bitumen was discovered. Some distance north of this gate a large part
of the old city wall was discovered, belonging in the main to the times
of Narâm-Sin and Ur-Engur respectively, the work of the latter king
being of course superimposed on that of Narâm-Sin. Traces of some
hundred feet of the wall of Narâm-Sin are still visible, and also a
water-conduit consisting of baked bricks laid in bitumen. The wall was
rebuilt by Ur-Engur, who adorned its outer face with a series of panels
11 feet in width, and placed at intervals of 30 feet, of which some
seventeen were found in their original positions; the excavators were
unable to ascertain the thickness of the wall, but in one place it was
found preserved to the thickness of over 25 feet. Into the inner face of
this later wall were built a number of small chambers in which were
found relics of varying interest; a description of the later Parthian
fortress, and of the little Parthian palace discovered on the other side
of the Shatt-en-Nîl Canal, would treat of a period with which this
volume does not profess to deal, and the reader must accordingly refer
to the standard works of some of the excavators themselves (Peters,
Hilprecht or Fisher) for information concerning these later buildings,
as also for details regarding all the structures and discoveries at
Nippur. Sufficient however has perhaps been recounted to indicate the
extraordinary importance with which the American expeditions to Nippur
have been fraught, though even to-day we are not in a position to
adequately appreciate the full value of the self-sacrificing labours of
the excavators, and the ample results with which those labours have been
and are daily being attended.

Meanwhile, the Turks themselves, alive to the importance of the
monuments and relics recovered from the ruined mounds which ever since
Rassam’s departure from Baghdad in 1882 had been exploited with
considerable success by the agents of antiquity-dealers, determined to
send out an expedition of their own. The expedition was placed under the
directorship of Father Scheil, a young French Assyriologist, and Bedri
Bey, the Ottoman Inspector of Antiquities, who commenced operations in
the spring of 1894 at Abû Habba (Sippar), the site which had been the
particular hunting ground of the dealers, and which therefore was
calculated to be worth scientifically exploring. The most important
result of the expedition was the discovery of about seven hundred
tablets, mostly letters or contracts belonging to the time of the first
Babylonian dynasty, and especially to the reign of Samsu-iluna, the son
and successor of Khammurabi. In 1891 Dr. Wallis Budge excavated the
neighbouring mound of Dêr and recovered many texts, etc.; these are now
in the British Museum.

On March 26th, 1899, Dr. Koldewey, whose excavations at El-Hibba and
Surghul had been more than successful, commenced operations on the Ḳasr
mound at Babylon, the mound which marks the site of the world-famed
palace of Nebuchadnezzar.

The German excavations at Babylon undertaken by Koldewey, Meissner,
Andrae and M. L. Meyer, have not indeed yielded so rich a harvest as was
expected from the important part which that city played in the history
of the country, from the time of Khammurabi onwards, for Sennacherib’s
destruction of the city in 689 B.C. had been carried out with such
rigour that little was left to tell the tale of Babylon’s greatness
before his time, that little consisting chiefly of contract-tablets
belonging to the time of the First Dynasty, and a number of pot-burials
belonging to a yet earlier period. But however greatly we must regret
the dearth of material yielded by Babylon’s ruined mounds, for the
reconstruction of her earlier history, of the period during which she
was at the height of her power,—the period of the great king
Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.)—the German excavations have afforded us
much valuable information. The Ḳasr mound which was found to conceal the
remains of Nebuchadnezzar’s famous palace, the palace in which he lived
during the greater part of his reign and the same one in which Alexander
the Great died, seems to have been a new suburb of Babylon, and
contained nothing earlier than the seventh century. The massive
city-wall, which in all was found to be some 136 feet in thickness, was
discovered, and the palace of Nebuchadnezzar in part excavated, but the
two most important discoveries of the summer of 1899 were a stele of
dolerite and a sandstone bas-relief. The stele of dolerite is 4 feet 2
inches high, and on the smooth side of it the figure of a Hittite god is
depicted, while the reverse contains a Hittite inscription. The god has
his two arms raised and brandishes a trident in one hand, a large hammer
in the other, while a sword hangs from his side. A long plait of hair
hangs down his back, his head-gear being a Phrygian cap, his footwear the
pointed shoes so characteristically Hittite, and his tunic, decorated
with a fringe, reaches just to the knees. The second discovery consisted
in a sandstone slab rather over 4 feet long and about 4-1/2 feet in
height, showing in relief a group of figures of which the two most
noteworthy are the god Adad, armed with two flashes of lightning in
either hand, and the goddess Ishtar.

In the following year Koldewey was able to give more detailed
information regarding the general plan and arrangement of
Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. The palace contained a great number of rooms,
arranged around larger central courts. The walls of the various
buildings rest upon a massive foundation composed of bricks and
fragments. Upon this foundation-platform a rampart-wall running east to
west, over 56 feet thick and pierced with a single gateway, was
discovered, while at the corner of this wall, another building, older
than the wall itself, was brought to light. This building was made of
burnt brick and asphalt, the bricks themselves bearing an Aramaic
inscription and a walking lion.

On the east front of the Ḳasr in Babylon the paving-stones of the street
are made of white limestone, or red and white breccia, but the only part
of the street paving found in its original position is the layer of
burnt bricks covered with asphalt which served as a foundation for the
stone pavement above. The enormous limestone blocks measure over 3 feet
square and about 13-1/2 inches thick. On some of these limestone blocks
an inscription was found giving Nebuchadnezzar’s name, and stating that
he had paved the Babel street for the procession of the great lord
Marduk with “mountain-stone” slabs. The breccia slabs, none of which
have been recovered complete, were apparently of more modest dimensions,
being only about 26 inches square and 8 inches thick. There is no doubt
that these are the paving-stones wherewith Nebuchadnezzar paved the
“Processional street of Marduk” the locus of which is now certain.
Breccia had been used for building purposes before the time of
Nebuchadnezzar: thus we know that Nabopolassar, the founder of the
Neo-Babylonian Dynasty, had used it for paving the processional street,
while at the Amran mound a block of breccia was found bearing an
inscription of Sennacherib.

The discovery of the processional street of Marduk was of the greatest
importance in regard to the topography of ancient Babylon, while the
confirmation of the theory held by Delitzsch and others—hitherto based
chiefly on inferences drawn from Nebuchadnezzar’s texts—in the
identification of Marduk’s temple, E-sagila, with the old Babylonian
building concealed within the Amran mound, during the excavations of May
1900, was of even greater moment.

Koldewey was further fortunate enough to discover a temple erected in
honour of the goddess Nin-makh (Great Lady), who was at all events in
later times identified with Ishtar.[27] The importance of the discovery
lay in the completeness of the building, and not in the magnitude of its
dimensions, for it is quite small. During the excavation of this temple
a well-preserved Assyrian cylinder was found, on which Ashur-bani-pal
records that he has newly built Nin-makh’s temple in Babylon, in return
for which act of piety he clearly expected a rich reward, for he begs
the “sublime Nin-makh to look down compassionately” on his pious deeds,
to pronounce his prosperity daily before Bêl and Bêlit, to prescribe a
“life of many days as his fate,” and to establish his government firmly.

Another interesting discovery was that of a terra-cotta figure of a naked
goddess, doubtless a relic of the Nin-makh-cult (cf. Fig. 86).

The excavations on the Amran hill revealed the presence of buildings
prior to the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The upper strata of the mound
belong for the most part to the Parthian and Seleucidian times, but at a
depth of 68 feet below the surface of the mound, the floor of a
Babylonian building was uncovered, and the clay walls of this building,
which were over 9 feet thick, were still found in position to a
considerable height. The floor itself was made of burnt bricks covered
with asphalt, apparently only the bricks in the uppermost layer bearing
the impress of Nebuchadnezzar’s stamp, in consequence of which it seems
probable that the foundation of the building was laid before that king’s
time. Underneath the lowest flooring a solid foundation of brick some
6-1/2 feet thick was found. On the uppermost flooring various objects of
interest were brought to light, including a thin plate of gold, a silver
knob, a gold ear-ring, and fragments of engraved shells. But the real
importance of the excavations at the Amran mound centres round the
discovery of Marduk’s famous temple—E-sagila, the meaning of which is
“the house of heaven and earth.” The temple was founded by King Zabum
during the time of the First Dynasty of Babylon (_circ._ 2000 B.C.), the
period, that is to say, during which the city of Babylon became the most
powerful city-state in Southern Mesopotamia. But the supremacy of
Babylon meant the supremacy of Babylon’s god, and the prestige to which
Marduk attained at this time is shown by his identification with Bêl,
the ancient god of Nippur. But some few hundred years afterwards, when
the power and influence of Babylon had decreased, and dominion in the
Mesopotamian Valley had passed to the more warlike Assyrians in the
north, E-sagila and her god suffered with the people of Babylon, the
temple being looted and the god Marduk carried off by Tukulti-Ninib,
King of Assyria (_circ._ 1275 B.C.) Some six centuries later found the
Assyrians still all-powerful, though always engaged in suppressing
rebellions among the discontented Babylonian princes, until at last
Sennacherib resolved to wipe out Babylon from off the face of the earth.
E-sagila shared in the general catastrophe, and but little remains of
the early city or of the temple of her time-honoured god, though
fortunately various documents, vessels and other relics belonging to the
time before Sennacherib escaped that king’s fury, and have been
recovered recently by the German excavators. Esarhaddon however, the
successor of Sennacherib, and one of the most humane of Assyrian
monarchs,—which is not perhaps saying a very great deal—made it his
special business to rebuild the city of Babylon and the temple of her
god, but he did not live to see the realization of his project, and the
completion of the work was thus left to Esarhaddon’s joint successors,
Ashur-bani-pal and Shamash-shum-ukîn. The temple was roofed with cedar
and cypress-wood, and was rich with gold, silver and precious stones.
When all was finished, Marduk’s home-coming was celebrated with great
pomp and splendour, Shamash the sun-god, Ea, Marduk’s venerable father,
Nebo his illustrious son—even Nergal the god of the dead, came to
welcome the exiled deity back. But magnificent as was the reconstruction
of Marduk’s ancient fane by Ashur-bani-pal, Assyria’s mightiest king, it
was surpassed by that of Babylon’s native kings—Nabopolassar (625-604)
and his son Nebuchadnezzar. Ashur-bani-pal does not seem to have rebuilt
the temple-tower, which Sennacherib had of course destroyed, but
Nabopolassar reared once more the lofty stage-tower—the E-temen-an-ki
(“house of the foundations of heaven and earth”), and Nebuchadnezzar his
son carried on the laudable work. He built the walls of the chamber Ekua
of pure gold, while the roof he made of cedar-wood which he covered with
gold and precious stones, the sanctuaries of Nebo and Zarpanit being
treated in the same luxurious manner, while all the sacrificial vessels
seem to have been made of pure gold. Neriglissar (559-556 B.C.) a
successor of Nebuchadnezzar further built four gates to this temple,and
when the city was finally taken by Cyrus, it will be recalled that that
king made obeisance to Marduk, at whose behests he professed to have
taken the city—“He (Marduk) sought out a righteous prince, a man after
his own heart, whom he might take by the hand; and he called his name

Various graves were discovered in the course of the excavations at
Babylon, but mostly of a late date. A very interesting sarcophagus was
brought to light in 1910,[28] the “head” end of the terra-cotta cover of
which bore in relief the bearded head of a man with long hair, and an
Egyptian type of face. Two other sarcophagi were found at the same time,
and all of these burials were inside ruined houses.

Of the many other important results attending the labours of Koldewey
and his confrères, the discovery of the ancient canal Arakhtu, the
tracing of its quay-walls, the excavation of the great wall between the
north and south castles, and the clearing of the west wall of the
southern citadel, are especially deserving of mention, while for details
the reader must refer to the _Mitteilungen der Deutschen

But Babylon was not the only site in Lower Mesopotamia to receive the
attention of the Germans on this expedition. On June 14th, 1902,
Koldewey, Delitzsch and Baumgarten, with a party of labourers, took a
boat down the Euphrates, arriving eventually at the ruined mounds of
Fâra on the 18th. Digging was commenced in the northern part of the
ruin, and it was very soon evident that the whole site is of very
ancient date, not even the uppermost strata of the mounds containing
anything that can be assigned to a late period. Various implements of
bone and stone, including a number of stone hatchets, as well as saws
and knives made of flint or obsidian, all testified to the antiquity of
its occupation, and as nothing was discovered at a greater depth than 6
to 7 feet, Fâra promised at the outset to be one of the most important
sites for the study of early Sumerian civilization. The ruined mounds of
other long-forgotten cities had indeed yielded relics of the past quite
as old as those excavated at Fâra, but in nearly every case the upper
strata of such mounds were found to contain the remains of a later date
and a more recent occupation; Fâra however stands unique in this
respect, as for some reasons unknown, it appears only to have been
occupied in the earliest period of Babylonia’s history, during which it
undoubtedly “had its day,” but has ever since “ceased to be” until the
German excavators have at last rescued it from permanent oblivion. Among
the smaller objects discovered on this site, was a number of
seal-cylinders, the majority of which were made of alabaster, though
sometimes of shells, but very rarely of the hard stones so frequently
employed in later days. They were found sometimes amid the general
débris, sometimes in the tombs; for the most part they exhibit
battle-scenes, the combatants being either men, beasts, or mythical
monstrosities, as the case may be. The simpler specimens of the pottery
found resemble those unearthed by Koldewey at Surghul, while others were
more elaborately decorated. A few tablets were unearthed, mostly round
in shape, and all of them inscribed in archaic characters. The citizens
of Fâra placed the bodies of their dead either in clay sarcophagi, or
else in reed mats. The clay sarcophagi are oval in shape, and about six
feet in length; the sides are perpendicular, and they are closed with a
clay cover. The corpse was generally found lying on its side with the
legs drawn up embryonic-wise, as was the case in pre-Dynastic Egypt, and
one of the hands is holding to the mouth a cup made of stone, shell,
copper, or clay, an incidental proof of the Babylonian’s belief in the
reality of the life after death even at this remote period. The tombs of
the better classes contain also the implements, weapons and ornaments of
the deceased. The arms include spears, poniards and hatchets made of
“bronze” (?), the jewelry taking the form of chains, the beads of which
are in the case of the more wealthy made of lapis lazuli, and agate,
while the poorer folk had to content themselves with ordinary glass.
Bracelets and rings of silver and bronze were also discovered, together
with “bronze” staffs provided with lapis-points at either end. Among the
tools may be enumerated fishing-hooks and hatchets made of “bronze,”
while colour-boxes made of alabaster or shell were usually buried with
the corpse, and were therefore presumably regarded as toilet requisites
in the life beyond just as in the life which now is. The colours in most
cases were found well preserved, the principal of which were black,
yellow, red and light green. Many stone vessels of varying sizes and
shapes were brought to light, most of them being made of alabaster, in
fact alabaster was used quite extensively on this site, contrary to the
usage of the Babylonians of later days, who seldom employed the softer
stones which their Assyrian neighbours utilized so frequently and for so
many divers purposes. The excavators report that they were unable to
determine whether the sarcophagi or the mat-burials were the older, both
apparently being used synchronously; an assumption that the sarcophagi
were used by the better classes, the mat-interments by the poorer, would
in itself be sufficiently reasonable, but for the awkward fact that the
mat-graves are as richly provided with the accoutrements, ornaments and
implements of the deceased as are the sarcophagi themselves. Very few
sculptures were found, most of them being on alabaster and showing
considerable skill in their general execution. The early part of 1903
was signalized by the discovery of a building made of well-baked bricks,
in the ruined débris of which were discovered a large number of
well-preserved tablets.

Meanwhile excavations had been carried on at the same time at the mound
of Abû Hatab, Koldewey having received a report of the discovery of
inscribed bricks on this site. Operations were commenced here on
December 24th, 1902, and resulted in the discovery of a number of small
buildings, the walls of which were notable for their insubstantiality.
Some of the bricks were found to bear an inscription of Bur-Sin, king of
Ur (_circ._ 2350 B.C.). But Abû Hatab yielded little of interest to the
student of early prehistoric remains. The tombs here consisted for the
most part in two large pots “adjusted with their edges in a horizontal
position,” a form of sarcophagus found also in the early strata at
Babylon and Muḳeyyer (Ur). The corpse lay either on its back or side,
but in both cases it was contracted, this being obviously necessitated
by the limitations of the sarcophagus, as was similarly the case in the
early pot-burials of ancient Egypt. A vessel of clay or copper was
generally found placed near the head of the corpse, doubtless destined
to fulfil a purpose similar to that of the drinking cups found in the
graves at Fâra.

At about this time Andrae, Koldewey’s assistant, completed the
excavation of the temple of Nebo at Birs-Nimrûd (Borsippa), whence Nebo
paid his yearly visit to Marduk on the first day of the New Year.

Koldewey and Andrae did not however confine their attention to the
ruined mounds of Babylonia, but in 1903 commenced excavations at Ḳalat
Sherḳat, the site of Ashur, Assyria’s ancient capital, and the name of
the god from whom Assyria derives her name. As early as 1852 Sir Henry
Layard had conducted excavations on this site, the chief tangible result
of which was the discovery of Tiglath-Pileser I’s clay cylinders, though
fragments of bas-reliefs and other inscriptions were also discovered
here both by Layard and Rassam. Shalmaneser I (_circ._ 1300 B.C.) had
transferred the seat of his government from Ashur to Calah, but his
successor Tukulti-Ninib (_circ._ 1275 B.C.) restored the capital of the
empire to Ashur. The mounds which mark the site of this ancient city are
to a great extent of natural formation (cf. Pl. VIII), thereby differing
from most of the ruined mounds in Mesopotamia, which owe their existence
to artificial formation. From September 1903 to April 1904 operations
were of a tentative character and consisted of trial trenches, but in
April 1904 the Germans commenced excavating the large mound of
mud-brick, the ziggurat, the eastern plateau, and the large court of
Ashur’s temple, part of the fortification-wall also receiving attention,
while the main work centred round the palace-buildings of Shalmaneser I
(_circ._ 1300 B.C.). The great temple of Ashur, built or restored by
Ushpia, an early ruler of the city who antedates Irishum, is situated in
the north-east corner, and it adjoins the palace of Shalmaneser I. The
ziggurat or stage-tower lies to the west-south-west, and the palace of
Ashur-naṣir-pal adjoins the temple of Anu and Adad, which would appear
to be the best preserved building in Ashur. Various other buildings have
been discovered, of which the temple of Nebo and the palace of
Tukulti-Ninib I (_circ._ 1275 B.C.) may be specially mentioned. Numerous
graves were found of various kinds, those with brick walls being
undoubtedly Assyrian. Many valuable historical inscriptions were found,
while the discovery of a wall-decoration consisting of a series of
rosettes was another interesting result. The so-called “Mushlala” of
Adad-nirari I (_circ._ 1325 B.C.), according to whom it formed a part of
the temple of Ashur, was found to be identical with that restored by
Sennacherib with “mountain-stone,” and afterwards repaired by Esarhaddon
(681-668 B.C.) with “pîlu”-stone. The foundations of the building
situated at the southern side of the eastern plateau proved to be of
very great depth, while the plan of the building itself is said to
closely resemble the early Babylonian type. The temple of Ashur the
great lord of Assyria is alluded to by Irishum, king of Assyria (_circ._
2000 B.C.), by Shamshi-Adad who calls himself builder of the temple of
Ashur, by Adad-nirari and by Shalmaneser I. In Shalmaneser I’s reign it
was destroyed by fire, and that king undertook its restoration. An
inscription of Tiglath-Pileser II informs us that he decorated the
temple with enamelled bricks. Some of these inscriptions were found “in
situ” thus fixing the precise locus of Ashur’s famous shrine. The temple
was situated at the extreme north of the city, three of its sides
overlooking the open country and the fourth over-towered by the
ziggurat. Remains of Shalmaneser’s work have been found in the
foundation and pavement constructed by that king, and some of the
enamelled bricks which decorated the buildings of Sargon have also been
recovered, while the pavement of the great court, as well as pieces of
enamelled brick and the clay cones of Tiglath-Pileser II have been
brought to light. The temple itself was originally high above the level
of the street. A second smaller ziggurat was further found, which proved
to be a part of the temple of Anu and Adad, and the work of three
distinct periods has been traced in this structure.[29] Of interesting
relics here unearthed, we may specifically mention a three-pronged
thunderbolt of wood sheathed with gold.



(_By permission of the German Oriental Society_)]

The remains of various palaces have been unearthed including those of
Adad-nirari and Shalmaneser I, and the royal residence of Tukulti-Ninib
has been also excavated. Many tablets were recovered, and a pot
containing 113 unbaked clay tablets was also brought to light: the
tablets are written in a script characteristic of the time of
Tiglath-Pileser I, and are chiefly concerned with receipts for cattle.
Much pottery was unearthed, together with a variety of objects including
some Roman imperial coins of the second century. The northern part of
the city was that which was favoured by the Assyrian kings, and
accordingly contains the remains of several temples and palaces, but the
ruins of private houses are perhaps of even greater interest than the
palaces of kings and the abodes of the gods. They are small in size, but
were evidently carefully drained. Within the houses a number of graves
were discovered, apparently belonging to the same period as the houses
themselves. In many cases the excavators state that they found clear
traces of cremation in the graves. Seven distinctly different kinds of
graves were found at Ashur—vaults, clay sarcophagi, baked clay trays
placed over the corpse, jars, brick graves, potsherd graves, and earth
graves. The vaults[30] are of various shapes and dimensions, are made of
burnt brick, and consist generally of a fairly spacious chamber and an
entrance shaft. The bodies—always more than one in each vault—lay on the
floor in a contracted position, surrounded with drinking vessels of
every description, and in all cases there was a small niche for a lamp.
The clay sarcophagi show even greater varieties, including jars into
which the bodies were pressed, and tubs both high and short into which
the corpse was placed in a seated position, while both of these classes
comprise many different types.

Another class of jar-burial, known as the “capsule,” consisted in two
jars drawn over the feet and head respectively and pressed together till
they met, thus forming a “capsule.” The Brick-graves were practically
Brick-sarcophagi, the graves being built coffin-wise, but few of these
have been found. The Potsherd graves are so called from the use of
potsherds to cover the corpse. Apparently these various methods of
burial coexisted at the same time, and they accordingly cannot be
classified into periods, as is the case to some extent in early Egypt.

Concerning the fortifications of the city, the inscriptions of the
various kings who built, repaired, or rebuilt these, afford us a good
deal of information, but the excavations themselves have not up to the
present told us as much as we could desire. Shalmaneser II’s work of
restoration on the southern wall has been identified by the clay-cones
of that king found in the upper part of the wall, while in some of his
inscriptions Shalmaneser calls himself the builder of the “Dûru” itself.
The quay-wall built by Adad-nirari I, restored by Adad-nirari II, and
later on by Adad-nirari III, has been excavated for nearly 490 yards of
its length; it is built of blocks of limestone and is faced with brick
on the river-side, coherency being added to the whole by an ample
employment of asphalt and clay-mortar. Part of the city-moat built by
Tukulti-Ninib I has also been found, the excavations having further
revealed the restoration of the city-wall, for which Ashur-naṣir-pal was
probably responsible.

The year 1908 saw the excavation of the temple erected in honour of the
god Nebo at Ashur by Sin-shar-ish-kun, the last king of Assyria (_circ._
615 B.C.).[31] The general ground-plan of this late Assyrian temple was
found to correspond to that of the Anu-Adad temple, and also to that of
the temple built by Sargon at Khorsabad.[32] Numerous stelæ and other
monuments of stone were recovered from the ruins of Ashur; they include
a basalt stele of Tukulti-Ninib,[33] a stele of Tiglath-Pileser III, and
another of Ashur-rêsh-ishi II,[34] a limestone stele of Ashur-naṣir-pal,
an alabaster stele with the representation of a king adoring a god and
goddess, which in some way resembles the Bavian relief of
Sennacherib,[35] and fragments of a diorite sculpture[36] with small
figures recalling the style of art characteristic of the Khammurabi
period. The interest of these monuments is chiefly centred in the
inscriptions which throw new light upon the number and order of the
Assyrian kings.

Meanwhile the Americans, whose excavations in Babylonia had been
inaugurated with so much promise, had again taken the field. On
Christmas day 1903 an expedition sent out by the Oriental Exploration
Fund of the University of Chicago, under the directorship of Professor
R. F. Harper (E. J. Banks as field-director) commenced excavations at
Bismâya, the name of a group of mounds situated between the Tigris and
Euphrates, and due south of Bagdad. The mounds are very extensive,
measuring about a mile in length and half a mile in breadth, but their
altitude is very low compared with that of other mounds, such as Erech,
Nippur (cf. Pl. X) or Borsippa. The temple was the first building at
Bismâya to receive attention, partly owing to the fact that it happened
to be concealed beneath one of the loftiest of the Bismayân mounds, and
partly because the general shape of the mound suggested the possible
existence of a stage-tower beneath its ruined débris. Trenches dug on
all sides of the mound towards the centre soon revealed the lower
storey of one of these temple towers, the second storey of which had
disappeared, though some of the burnt bricks which formed its outer
casing were found lying about. The surviving lower stage consisted in
crude bricks and clay, but was provided with a facing of burnt brick
some four feet thick. Many of these casing bricks were inscribed with
the name of Dungi, king of Ur (_circ._ 2400 B.C.). Beneath the bricks of
Dungi was found another layer of burnt bricks, some of which bore the
name of Ur-Engur, Dungi’s immediate predecessor on the throne of Ur. Of
small objects unearthed, the three most interesting were a thin strip of
gold found about two feet below the baked bricks of Dungi, and bearing
the name of the renowned Nârâm-Sin, the son of Shar-Gâni-sharri of
Agade, and the second was a small white marble statuette found at no
great distance from the strip of gold, and conforming to the style of
art characteristic of the age of Narêm-Sin, while the third was another
marble statue belonging to the earliest Sumerian period, and closely
resembling those excavated in the lowest strata at Tellô (Lagash). This
statue (cf. Fig. 32) is probably unique as a statue in the round
belonging to so early a period, and is especially noticeable for the
fact that the arms are in this case entirely free from the body, and
carved altogether in the round.

Just below the place where the gold of Narâm-Sin was recovered, large
bricks about 18 inches square and belonging to the age of
Shar-Gâni-sharri were found, while numerous inscriptions of this same
king were forthcoming from some of the other mounds at Bismâya. Beneath
the large Sargonic bricks there was a layer of thin oblong and
finger-marked bricks, while lower still, some five feet below the
surface, small plano-convex bricks set in bitumen were brought to light.

A great number of vase fragments made of marble, porphyry, granite,
alabaster and onyx, together with innumerable objects made of ivory,
mother of pearl, metal and stone were found round about the temple

In regard to the temple itself, an entrance was discovered on the
south-east side, the principal remaining features of which were the
marble gate-socket supported on two slabs of pink marble. At the south
corner, an oval-shaped room was brought to light, which was once covered
with a dome-shaped roof. But the base of the temple tower had depths
even below the stratum containing the small plano-convex bricks, which
yet remained to be fathomed.

Some sixteen or seventeen feet below the surface a large metal spike
(cf. Fig. 40) terminating in a lion’s head was recovered, while much
lower still, about thirty-nine to forty feet below the level of the
mound a number of fragments of wheel-made black pottery were revealed.
The date of this wheel-made pottery is of course unknown, but judging
from the depth at which it was found, Dr. Banks, the Field-director of
the expedition, suggests a date of 10,000 B.C. In the same year (1903)
in which these successful excavations were being carried on at Bismâya,
Nineveh, the ruined mounds of which once-famous city had already yielded
such a rich harvest to the great pioneers in the field of Mesopotamian
exploration, received further attention at the hands of the Trustees of
the British Museum, who sent out an expedition under Messrs. L. W. King
and R. C. Thompson, with a view to the further excavation of the
Kouyunjik mound. The principal result of the excavations carried on
there between the years 1903 and 1905 was the discovery of the site of
Nabû’s temple, which had however been so ruthlessly destroyed—presumably
by the Elamites—that no complete plan of the temple could be made.

Meanwhile the excavations at Tellô (Lagash) which had been brought
suddenly to an end by the death of the brilliant French excavator (M. de
Sarzec) in May, 1901, were resumed in January, 1903, under the
directorship of Captain Gaston Cros. The principal fresh discovery made
was a massive fortification wall built by Gudea (_circ._ 2450 B.C.). It
is about thirty-two and a half feet thick, and in places is still in
position to the height of twenty-six feet. Captain Cros also excavated a
large rectangular building, and brought to light various objects of
interest, including implements of flint and copper, together with a
brick-stamp of Narâm-Sin, which latter may be regarded as evidence that
building operations were carried on in Lagash by a Semitic king of Agade
during the period of Semitic supremacy.


The first person to bring reports of cuneiform inscriptions to Europe
was Pietro della Valle, an Italian belonging to a Roman family of noble
birth. In the years 1614-26 he made a journey to Turkey, Egypt,
Palestine, Persia and India, and published an account of his travels in
1650, but the first communication of his discovery of cuneiform
inscriptions at Persepolis was contained in a letter written from Shiraz
and dated October 21st, 1621. Josafat Barbaro at the end of the
fifteenth century had already taken notice of the strange signs found on
the monuments at Persepolis, but Pietro della Valle was the first to
suspect that the inscriptions were something more than mere decorative
incisions on the rock. But though Pietro della Valle had made copies of
a few of the inscriptions on the walls of the ruined palaces of
Persepolis as early as 1621, to Chardin (1674) belongs the honour of
making the first copy of a complete cuneiform inscription, the so-called
“Window-Inscription,” the shortest of the trilingual Achaemenian
inscriptions, and his copy is to be found in the account of his travels
(published 1711). This same inscription was copied in 1694 by Kampfer,
who also copied the Babylonian text of the “H” inscription found at
Persepolis, and who was the first to adopt the term “cuneiform.” In the
work which he published in 1712 he discusses whether the unknown script
is alphabetic, syllabic, or ideographic, and decides in favour of the
last. In 1701, the Dutchman De Bruin commenced his travels: he devoted
the year 1704 to an examination of the ruins at Persepolis and ten years
later he published two new trilingual inscriptions in addition to an Old
Persian and a Babylonian inscription, but to copy was one thing and to
decipher was quite another, and well nigh a century elapsed before any
real progress was made towards the unravelling of these cryptic signs,
and the reconstruction of the languages which they embodied. In 1762 the
inscription on the Vase of Xerxes found by Count Caylus was published,
and a quadrilingual inscription of this king was published the same
year. In 1765 Carsten Niebuhr, a Dane, copied several Achaemenian
inscriptions at Persepolis, and pointed out that the first of the three
columns on each of the trilingual inscriptions that had been found,
contained only forty-two varieties of cuneiform characters from which he
surmised rightly that the system in the first column was neither
ideographic (each sign representing a word), nor syllabic (each sign
representing a syllable), but alphabetic. From 1798 onwards, Tychsen and
Münter, also a Dane, carried on the work begun by Niebuhr, and published
their results in 1802. Münter had correctly guessed that the ubiquitous
diagonal wedge ᐊ served to separate the words from each
other, and one word which occurred at the beginning of each inscription,
he rightly adjudged to be the word for “king.” In the meantime the
Zend[37] language of the later Zoroastrian faith had been rediscovered,
and with the aid of it, de Sacy had been able to decipher the Pehlevi[38]
inscriptions. Now only the older Persian inscriptions of the Achaemenian
kings awaited interpretation. In 1802 G. Friedrich Grotefend, of
Hanover, a schoolmaster by profession, entered the field, and by the
following process of reasoning he became the pioneer discoverer of part
of the Persian cuneiform alphabet, and the first decipherer of a
complete cuneiform inscription. Old writers had provided him with the
all-important information that the palaces of Persepolis, amid the ruins
of which so many of these cuneiform inscriptions had been found, were
built by the Achaemenian kings. The Pehlevi inscriptions moreover, which
had also been found on this site and had been deciphered by de Sacy, led
him to expect that the cuneiform inscriptions would contain something
analogous. Grotefend had already satisfied himself that the
inscriptions read from left to right, and selecting two short
inscriptions, one engraved on a gate-post of a building on the second
palace-terrace, and the other engraved on the wall of a building on the
third palace-terrace at Persepolis, he commenced his successful
investigations. Both inscriptions contained the group of signs which
Münter had already rightly inferred represented “king,” though what was
the Persian for “king” remained as yet unknown, the only difference
being that in Inscription I “king” was preceded by a group of signs
which may be conveniently designated “X,” while in Inscription II “king”
is preceded by a group of signs which may be called “Y,” and that
moreover in Inscription II “X” and the word for “king” following it
occurred after the “Y” + “king.” In I on the other hand “X” + “king” was
followed by another group of signs which may be labelled “Z,” without
however the usual accompanying “king.”

  Thus I reads “X” + king......... “Z”.........

  And II reads “Y” + king......... “X” + king.

From this, Grotefend concluded that the groups of signs “X” “Y” and “Z”
represented proper names, and that as “X” and “Y” were accompanied by
“king,” they must be king’s names, and lastly Achaemenian kings’ names,
for ancient writers stated that these palaces at Persepolis were built
by Achaemenian kings, and furthermore their position suggested that
these proper names must stand in genealogical relation to each other. In
I “X” must be the son of “Z,” and in II “Y” must be the son of “X”; “X”
and “Y” are accompanied with the sign for “king,” “Z” is not, therefore
“Z” the father of “X” is not a king, and consequently “X” is presumably
the founder of the dynasty. But apart from this hypothesis, some of the
names of the five kings composing the (fortunately) short Achaemenian
Dynasty—Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes—were at once
ruled out of court: thus Cyrus and Cambyses were out of the question,
for “X” and “Y” did not commence with the same cuneiform letter (it must
be remembered that it had already been rightly assumed that the system
was an alphabetic one), and moreover Cyrus’ father and son were both
named Cambyses, and accordingly if “X” were Cyrus then “Y” and “Z”
should be the same, which they are not. Cyrus and Artaxerxes were
likewise disqualified, as there was no such discrepancy in the length of
the words, there thus remained only Darius and Xerxes to be considered,
and as “X’s” father “Z” is not called king, and it is further known that
Hystaspes the father of Darius is not styled “king” by the classical
writers, “X” was rightly assumed to be Darius. Having ascertained the
oldest forms of the names of the Achaemenian kings in question from the
classical writers, and Hebrew and Persian literature, he applied these
forms to the groups of cuneiform signs which he had been led to believe
they represented, and he found the respective groups contained the same
number of individual signs as the proper names in question contained
letters, and for

  “X” he accordingly read—D A R — — U SH = Darius

  “Z” he read—G O SH T A S P = Hystaspes

  — the Zend form of the name.

But “Y,” which on his hypothesis should be Xerxes, was not quite so easy
to explain. He already knew the values of four or five of the seven
signs composing group “Y,” and these known values occurred in the order
he expected, but the first and third signs in the group remained to be
dealt with. Grotefend observed that the first sign was the same as the
first sign of the group correctly guessed by Münter to represent “king”:
he ascertained that the Greek letter “x” was transliterated in the Zend
by “kh,” and rightly inferred that the Greek “x” commencing the proper
name Xerxes would be similarly transliterated by “kh” in old Persian, in
other words that the first sign in the group should be read “Kh.” The
result of Grotefend’s investigations was the discovery of the correct
values for eight letters in the Persian cuneiform alphabet, the letter
“a” having been already rightly read by Tychsen and Münter. His method
of decipherment was proved to be correct by the quadrilingual
vase-inscription already alluded to. The first version of this latter
inscription is written in Egyptian hieroglyphics and was deciphered by
Champollion as the name of Xerxes. The other three versions are written
in cuneiform characters, the first of which, the old Persian, gave
precisely the same group of signs as that which Grotefend read as Xerxes
on the inscription from Persepolis. As Sayce[39] well says, the
decipherment of cuneiform and all the far-reaching consequences
resultant from it, depended upon a successful guess, but a guess made
“in accordance with scientific method,” and it was upon Grotefend’s
discovery that all subsequent attempts to decipher cuneiform—Persian,
Median, or Assyrian—were based. But unfortunately, though Grotefend had
thus given the clue, and scented the track for all future scholars, his
own ignorance of eastern languages prevented him from reaping himself
the full harvest of his brilliant commencement, and the work so nobly
begun was not completed till a later day.

The next great step forward was taken by the French scholar Emile
Burnouf in 1836; he discovered that one inscription contained a list of
the satrapies, and as the names of the satrapies were known from the
Greek writers he was able on the partial knowledge of the alphabet
already attained, to fit in the names to the cuneiform signs, and as a
result he produced an alphabet of thirty letters mostly correct. About
the same time Lassen assigned the correct values to almost all the
letters in the alphabet, and further demonstrated that the language of
the inscriptions was akin to the language of the Zend and also to the
Sanskrit, though identical with neither.

Meanwhile Rawlinson had entered the field, and being attached to the
British Mission in Persia, he had opportunities which others lacked, his
position making it possible for him to copy and on a subsequent occasion
take squeezes[40] of the inscription on the sacred rock of Behistun,
which is filled with proper names. The French traveller Otter was
apparently the first European to draw attention to the inscribed rock of
Behistun, about the year 1734, and it is also mentioned by Oliver, but
the earliest reference to it is contained in the History of Diodorus
Siculus who flourished in the first century A.D. Kinneir who saw it in
1810 states that it is clear that the figures portrayed there are of the
same age and character as those from Persepolis. In 1818 Porter made a
sketch of the figures, but did not attempt to copy the inscription in
spite of the experience he had gained in copying the inscription at
Persepolis. The copying of it was no easy task, for Rawlinson had to be
lowered in a basket from the top, the ladders which he had with him not
being long enough to reach the upper part of the inscription from below.
He sent his copy[41] to Edwin Norris, the secretary of the Royal Asiatic
Society, who carefully revised it, and in 1849 an analysis and
commentary on the text was published. With Rawlinson and Norris must be
mentioned the Irish clergyman Hincks, who with his unrivalled genius in
the decipherment of inscriptions was the first to discover that the
alphabet was not a true one, but that a vowel-sound was attached to each
of the consonants; and also Beer Holtzman and Westergaard, all of whom
contributed to the work of investigation and made discoveries in regard
to both the grammar and lexicon. Rawlinson cannot indeed claim to have
actually discovered the first clue which led to the decipherment of
cuneiform, but his translation of the Behistun inscription was
unquestionably the most valuable contribution ever made towards the
unravelling of the old Persian language. His work was moreover at first
quite independent of Grotefend’s, and without any assistance from the
latter he had deciphered the names of Cyrus, Hystaspes and Darius on the
inscriptions from Elvend and Hamadan as early as 1835. Thus the efforts
of half a century resulted at length in the discovery of a new alphabet
and the resurrection of an old language. The Persian texts on the
inscriptions were accompanied by two other texts, which as Grotefend
divined must have been the two other principal languages used in the
Persian Empire. The third text closely resembling the inscriptions on
bricks and cylinder seals found in Babylon was naturally and correctly
assumed to be Assyrian.[42] The decipherment of this third transcript
was fraught with difficulties of every description; there was such an
endless variety of signs of a simple and complex order, and there was
nothing whatever to indicate where a word or a sentence started or
finished, and further the characters on the monuments from Persepolis
differed very considerably from those found on the Babylonian monuments,
which also varied among themselves very greatly. On the seal-cylinders
they were especially complicated, and it was almost impossible to see
any resemblance whatever between the characters on the latter and those
of the Persepolitan inscriptions.

But light was to come from another quarter: in 1842 Botta, French Consul
at Mosul, began excavating on the site of Nineveh, but not meeting with
success he transferred his operations to Khorsabad further north, and
there excavated a large palace which subsequently turned out to be that
of Sargon. In 1845 Layard entered the field, and carried on most
successful excavations at Nimrûd (the ancient Calah) and then at
Kouyunjik, one of the mounds which represents the site of Nineveh.

Botta published the inscriptions he had found in 1846-50, and also
classified the signs, which numbered 642, while he further demonstrated
the identity of the cuneiform system of the Nineveh inscriptions with
that of the third column on the Persepolitan monuments, but it was
reserved for the incomparable Hincks to discover the fact that the
Assyrian cuneiform system was syllabic and not alphabetic like the

The proper names in the Persian columns gave the first clue to the
decipherment of the Assyrian columns. The values thus obtained for some
of the Assyrian signs made it possible to read many of the words, their
meanings being determined by a comparison with the Persian columns. It
was then seen that Assyrian was a Semitic language and resembled Hebrew
in particular; this was proved conclusively by De Saulcy in 1849. In
1850 Rawlinson submitted a translation of the inscription on the Black
obelisk of Shalmaneser II to the Royal Asiatic Society, a translation
which was in the main correct, and in the following year he published
the text and translation of the Assyrian transcript on the Behistun
inscription, and announced two facts, one already known, namely that the
Assyrian signs can be used ideographically, i.e. to denote an object or
idea, as well as to represent merely a syllable, the other fact was that
the characters were polyphonous, i.e. could represent more than one
syllable each: this was again proved to demonstration by the redoubtable
Hincks. Both facts alike argued that the cursive Assyrian cuneiform had
its origin in picture writing, for in the latest times when cuneiform
was as it were fully stereotyped, the signs were still used alone singly
to represent an object or an idea, and also the polyphonous character of
the individual signs testified to the same origin, for example the
picture of an arm would signify not merely an “arm” but also
“strength,” “might,” “grasp,” etc., and thus though the sign would—at
least originally—only have one general idea attached to it, it would
have quite a number of phonetic values: these phonetic values would in
the first be inseparably connected with the root _idea_, but in time
when the sign had become cursive and developed and no longer resembled
the original picture, the various phonetic values of the sign would not
necessarily have anything whatever to do with the original root idea.

For example, a character with the _meaning_ and _phonetic_ value of the
word “_win_,” would in later times come to represent the syllable
“_win_” quite apart from the basis meaning of the word win, thus the
sign could be used to represent the first syllable in the word

In 1857 the Royal Asiatic Society proposed to test the reliability of
the translations put forward by scholars of the Assyrian inscriptions in
the following manner: some eight hundred lines of cuneiform writing
contained on clay cylinders found by Layard at Ḳalat Sherḳat, the
ancient Ashur, were to be independently translated by any scholars who
were prepared to accept the proposal; the translations were to be sent
under seal to the society’s secretary, and were to be opened together
and examined before a commission on a set day. Rawlinson, Fox Talbot,
Hincks and Oppert entered the lists, and on May 25th their respective
products were opened and compared. The great similarity which they all
displayed afforded conclusive proof as to the correctness of the method
of decipherment, and demonstrated finally that the investigations
carried on, together with the results of those investigations, had not
been mere speculative guesses, but were based on sound scientific

Many other scholars deserve our gratitude for the share they took in the
decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, of whom one may perhaps
specially name Westergaarde, Löwenstern, De Saulcy and Longperier, but
for an account of the particular achievements of each, the reader must
refer to general works on the subject.[43]


All alphabets and all modes of writing have their ultimate origin in
pictures or hieroglyphs, and the cuneiform script offers no exception to
this universal rule. When the early pictorial symbols are used to
indicate objects and ideas other than the particular object of which the
symbol is a representation the accuracy or inaccuracy of the picture
becomes a matter of small importance, and an inevitable tendency to
sketch the picture in the most speedy manner possible ends finally in
the evolution of a purely cursive script. In Mesopotamia this course of
development—or deterioration—was hastened by the nature of the material
used in later times for all ordinary writing purposes, i.e. the
all-abundant clay of the valley, it being impossible to draw the lines
and curves necessary for the production of pictures on so plastic a
substance as clay. The shape assumed by the signs forming the characters
was due to the same cause, the point at which the stylus first comes in
contact with the soft clay being unavoidably thicker than the remainder
of the stroke which automatically tapers off into the form of a wedge.
But so forcible is the influence of habit and so strong the imitative
tendency, that we find the cuneiform characters which owed their
wedge-shaped formation entirely and solely to the adoption of clay as a
writing material, faithfully and slavishly copied on the colossal stone
bulls, stelæ and wall-reliefs of later Assyrian kings.

The early decipherers of cuneiform had no specific knowledge of its
pictographic origin, for all the inscriptions at that time discovered
showed the same stereotyped and cursive script, but since their day a
vast number of archaic inscriptions have been brought to light which
prove conclusively that cuneiform as such was no invention of either
Semites or Sumerians, but was simply the last stage in the process of
degeneration to which the early pictures of the pre-Semitic Sumerians
were subject. In the following illustrations (Figs. 1 and 2) we have a
number of characters taken from actual inscriptions and arranged in
order of evolution so to speak,[44] the sign in the left-hand column
containing the most archaic form of the sign as yet discovered, the
signs in the right-hand column showing the gradual transition to cursive
cuneiform, while the last sign in the column is the ordinary late
Assyrian ideograph. Thus in “A” we have the crude picture of a man
recumbent, and one can follow the course of its development or
deterioration from the various forms it has assumed on monuments and
bricks arranged in order of sequence. Given the ordinary cuneiform sign
for “man” by itself, it would be quite impossible to conjecture that it
originated in the picture of a man at all. Below (“B”) we have the old
Sumerian hieroglyph for “king,” consisting in a man lying down,
surmounted by either a crown or an umbrella as part of the insignia of
royalty. In “C” we have the picture of a man’s head in recumbent
posture, the lips being represented by two slanting lines, while the
series of characters in the centre illustrates the various forms the
sign has assumed on the bricks and monuments, and the arrangement shows
the process whereby the original hieroglyph gradually discarded all
trace of its pictorial origin, and became a cursive stereotyped sign the
principal value of which is “mouth.” Below we have another rude picture
of a man’s head, but on this occasion he wears a beard, which would
suggest a full-grown man; hence the meaning of the Assyrian ideograph
is “strength,” “be strong,” or “protection.” In figure “E” there is
a representation of a potted plant: this sign, instead of becoming
simpler as it makes each progressive step towards cuneiform, becomes
paradoxically more complex, until it finally subsides and assumes its
normal cursive form, the principal value for which is “cypress-tree.”
Below (“F”) two plants are seen, growing likewise in a pot: the
progress is again obvious, the meanings of the ideogram being “plant”
and “garment”; this latter meaning is probably attached to the sign
through the use of flax as a material for clothing. “G” appears to be
a tree growing by water; the late cuneiform sign has numerous values,
but none of them suggest any immediate connection with the obvious
signification of the picture-character from which it was developed. “H”
gives us a picture of a reed, the late cuneiform character being the
ideogram for “kanu” which means a “reed.”

[Illustration: FIG. 1.—From Harper’s _Old Testament and Semitic
Studies_, Vol. II, pp. 241 ff.—_By permission_.]

In Fig. 2, “Q” we have a picture of a fish; the meaning of the Assyrian
ideogram derived from it are a “fish,” to “peel” (from preparing a fish
for eating), the god Ea, on account of his sometimes being represented
in the form of a fish, and finally a “prince,” and “great” from its
association with Ea. Below (“R”) is another fish, provided with what
appears to be a dorsal fin, hence the signification of the Assyrian sign
is “broad” or a “monster.”

Our next illustration (“I”) is concerned with water: we have here the
wavy lines for water which is similarly represented in both Egyptian and
Chinese hieroglyphics. Below (“J”) we have a representation of the
little irrigation ditches by which gardens are watered: hence the
cuneiform ideogram derives the meaning of “field” and stands for two
distinct Assyrian words—“ginu” and “iklu,” both of which mean “field.”
It is somewhat doubtful what the hieroglyph in “K” is intended to
represent: Hommel regarded it as a picture of a leathern bottle which
would not unnaturally suggest the meaning “desert”; Barton, on the other
hand, with perhaps greater probability regards it as a rude outline of
the Euphrates valley, with its two rivers and its “occasional sections
of irrigated and so fertile land,” indicated by the cross-lines, and he
rightly says that this would account for the meanings “plain” and
“lands,” and by an extension “desert,” “elevated country,” and last of
all “back.” In “L” we see the picture of a house, which however hardly
corresponds with our conception of what a house should be: the cuneiform
sign derived from it is the ideogram for “bitu” (the Hebrew “Beth”
occurring in the proper names Bethlehem, “house of bread,” Bethshemesh,
“house of the sun,” etc.), the ordinary Assyrian word for “house.”

[Illustration: FIG. 2.—From Harper’s _Old Testament and Semitic
Studies_, Vol. II, pp. 241 ff.—_By permission_.]

The next figure (“M”) shows us a covered and steaming pot; hence the
meanings of the later cuneiform sign are to “burst forth,” “exult,”
“rejoice.” “N” is somewhat doubtful, but it probably represents a
“priestly garment,” inasmuch as the cuneiform sign derived from it is
the Assyrian ideogram for “šangu” a “priest.” “O” is apparently a rude
picture of either a crown or a ceremonial umbrella, as the emblem of
greatness, the picture of the Assyrian king attended by a slave whose
office it is to hold an umbrella over the head of his royal master
being, through its frequent occurrence on the bas-reliefs which adorned
the walls of the palaces, sufficiently familiar. However that maybe, the
cuneiform sign is the ordinary ideogram for “rabu” (the root which
occurs in Rabshakeh, Rabsaris, etc.), which means “great”; we have
already seen this sign compounded with the picture of a man, the two
together meaning “king.” In “P” we see a picture of a bowl in which two
tinder-sticks have been inserted with a view to their ignition by
friction; hence is derived the meaning of the cuneiform sign developed
from it,—“fire.”

As has been already indicated, clay was the material mostly used by the
Assyrian and Babylonian scribes for the purposes of writing; but stone
was also extensively used from the earliest to the latest times. Stone
obelisks, colossal statues of bulls and lions, and last but far from
least the bas-reliefs which decorated the walls of the royal palaces
were generally covered with an inscription, the wedges sometimes
measuring as much as two inches. In writing on sculpture the carved
figures were completely ignored, the inscription being chiselled
regardlessly through every detail of the carving. Stone was however
sometimes used solely and exclusively as the material medium for
perpetuating a legal agreement, or immortalizing the work of some
self-satisfied grandee, and tablets of limestone or alabaster exist in
large numbers, good examples of which are those of Rîm-Sin and
Sin-Gamil, rulers of the ancient city of Larsa.

Boundary-stones or land-marks form another interesting class of
inscribed stone objects. The texts refer to land-tenure and property
conveyancing, while the upper part of most of these boulder-shaped
monuments is sculptured in relief with mythological emblems. They belong
almost exclusively to the Kassite period. Sometimes a plan of the field
seems to have been chiselled on the stone which marked its boundary. A
good example of such a boundary-stone is that of Nebuchadnezzar I, which
was discovered at Nippur and is published by W. J. Hinke;[45] a further
point of interest about this stone is that it is inscribed with a hymn
to En-lil, the god of Nippur.

But neither the Babylonians nor the Assyrians confined themselves
exclusively to the use of clay and calcareous stone as the material
whereon to write their inscriptions. Sometimes the hardest volcanic
rocks were employed for the purpose, doubtless in consideration of their
durability and power of resisting the devastating influences of time and
climate. Thus in the course of the German excavations at Babylon a plate
of dolerite measuring about a foot and a half square and bearing an
inscription of Adad-nirari the son of Ashur-dan was discovered. So too
Dungi and Bur-Sin, kings of Ur (_circ._ 2350 B.C.), have left us
inscriptions chiselled on hard diorite, the inscriptions themselves
being of a votive character, while a club-button made of the same
material and bearing an inscription of ten lines was found at Babylon.
The various statues and stelæ made of these hard igneous stones and
found both in Assyria and Babylonia, though more frequently in the
mother country, practically always bear an inscription. A good example
of an Assyrian inscription on basalt is that found on the basalt statue
of Shalmaneser II (860-825 B.C.), which was brought to light in the
course of the recent excavations conducted by the Deutsche
Orient-Gesellschaft at Ashur. Again the numerous stone gate-sockets
discovered in the ruins of early buildings in Babylonia are nearly all
inscribed with the name and titles of the person who erected the
building, and sometimes the original inscription has been erased or
obliterated to make room for the inscription of a later ruler, who
knowing full well the difficulty of procuring stone in the low-lying
country of Babylonia, was not so short-sighted as to cast away the
gate-sockets of his vanquished predecessor, but on the contrary utilized
them for his own new building. Thus for example the gate-socket of
Lugal-kigub-nidudu, an early king of Sumer, was subsequently used by
Shar-Gâni-sharri, king of Akkad, in the construction of his temple at

But sometimes stones of comparative rarity, such as lapis lazuli, were
employed as a material whereon to engrave inscriptions: thus a tablet
made of that material and dedicated by Lugal-tarsi, an early king of
Kish, to the god Anu and the goddess Ninni, is preserved in the British
Museum, and in the course of the recent excavations at Babylon two bars
of lapis lazuli with reliefs and both bearing cuneiform inscriptions
were discovered. One of these showed the picture of a god standing up,
surmounted with a feather crown, and holding the symbol of lightning in
each hand, while his dress is decorated with three shields, and a
cuneiform inscription of five lines is further added; on the other, a
god in similar posture and dress but holding a staff and ring on his
breast and grasping the tail of a double-horned dragon in his right hand
is portrayed: the god’s girdle is decorated with figures, while on one
of the three shields adorning the raiment, horses are depicted, and
there is an accompanying inscription of eight lines.

Metal in like manner was not exempt from being drawn into the service,
the metals mostly employed being bronze and copper. Thus the female
statuettes from Tellô all bear an inscription, Elamite or Babylonian as
the case may be, the general purport of which is that the statuette is
dedicated with a view to the preservation of the life of the donor: so
too the colossal copper lance-head discovered on the same site bears a
royal inscription, while the famous bronze gate-sheaths from Balâwât
belonging to the time of Shalmaneser II, are perhaps the most familiar
instance of cuneiform inscriptions engraved on bronze. Many bronze
tablets of the Assyrian period have been found, and the well-known
bronze doorstep of Nebuchadnezzar II provides us with another excellent
example of an inscription engraved on metal. Moreover the more precious
metals such as silver and gold were occasionally inscribed. Inscriptions
on gold are very rare, but by no means unknown. M. de Sarzec for example
found a plate of gold bearing a cuneiform inscription at Tellô, and a
strip of gold bearing the name of the illustrious Narâm-Sin of Agade was
brought to light in the course of the American excavations at Bismâya.

But the inscribed clay tablets, countless in number and infinitely
various in size, shape and contents, far outweigh in importance all
other kinds of cuneiform inscriptions in existence. A detailed treatment
of the latter would far exceed the necessary limits of this little
volume, but a few words may be said regarding the main classes of
tablets discovered. Their size and shape are sometimes indicative of the
period to which they belong, sometimes of the subject-matter with which
they deal. A very early type is represented by those found below the
level of Ur-Ninâ’s building at Tellô; the tablets in question which have
not been baked in an oven, and are round in form, deal with the sale and
purchase of land. Similar round tablets were found by the German
excavators at Fâra, which were however baked and not sun-dried. The same
rounded baked clay tablets were evidently in vogue at the time of
Bur-Sin, for several have been brought to light which are dated in his
reign, and contain details regarding certain landed property. But the
commonest type of clay tablet is that characterized by its rectangular
shape, sometimes square, but more frequently oblong, and varying greatly
in size. The tablets in the Kouyunjik collection, which represents the
largest, and in one sense the only Assyrian library as yet discovered,
vary from one to fifteen inches in length when complete, many of them
being made from the very finest clay. The writing is sometimes
exceedingly minute, though marvellously clear and sharp, and is more or
less stereotyped in character. Astrology, astronomy, history, mythology,
magic, medicine, mathematics, prayers, hymns, lists of gods, omens,
lexicography and grammar are all well represented in this famous
library. Many of the texts are copies of older Babylonian literature
made by Ashur-bani-pal’s scribes, and stored away in the royal archives.
Some of the texts are bilingual, the top line containing the Sumerian
ideographic version, and the lower line giving the Assyrian translation,
and these bilingual inscriptions together with the syllabaries have
enabled scholars to unravel and elucidate at all events to some extent
the old Sumerian language.

By the year 1873 all scholars were agreed that the cuneiform script was
not invented by the Semitic Babylonians, but by a people who spoke an
agglutinative as opposed to an inflexional language, a language which
was therefore, at least in this respect, akin to the Tartar languages.
In the following year however Joseph Halévy, the famous French Semitist,
started a theory which denied the existence of a Sumerian language
altogether, and explained the ideographic texts in the bilingual
inscriptions already alluded to, as a secret writing intelligible only
to the priests; but primâ facie the theory lacked probability and even
plausibility. Halévy, it is true, propounded his theory at a time when
the study of Sumerian was in its infancy, though it can hardly be said
to have grown out of its childhood even at the present day, but this
notwithstanding, it would be indeed singular if the priests took the
precaution to enshrine their secret lore in cryptic language, and then
frustrated themselves by subscribing an Assyrian translation. Moreover
many of the Sumerian inscriptions treat of such very ordinary matters,
that it is extremely difficult to see how it could have been necessary
to employ a cryptic language to conceal them. A more ready explanation
is to be found in the theory accepted by the majority of scholars
to-day,—that the Sumerian language existed side by side with Semitic
Babylonian, and was used much as Latin is to-day.

One class of tablet especially easily distinguishable by its shape and
size is that comprising legal contracts for the exchange of land, cattle
and property of every description. They are small in size, oblong in
shape, both sides being slightly concave, and the whole not unlike a
small narrow pillow in general appearance. Many of these contract
tablets were enclosed in clay envelopes to ensure their preservation.
When a contract was effected by the Babylonians, the contracting parties
had recourse to a legal or priestly official, and the terms of the
agreement were set forth on a clay tablet which was deposited either in
the temple or the record chamber: it was furthermore protected by a clay
envelope upon which the terms inscribed on the contract tablet were
copied in duplicate; thus every precaution was taken to secure the
preservation of the original document. Sometimes the text on the
envelope varies somewhat from that contained in the document itself, and
in such cases the envelopes therefore have more than a purely archaic
interest, and are of actual linguistic value. One or two copies were
made of the contract and were kept by either or both of the contracting
parties. The deed was subscribed by the witnesses, one of whom was the
scribe who drew up the document and sealed it. The seal was generally
affixed by rolling a small cylinder seal over the tablet while still
moist, though sometimes a three-sided clay cone received the impress of
the seal, and this cone was attached to the tablet by means of a reed
inserted in the apex of the cone, the other end of the reed being joined
to the tablet by a piece of moist clay. Many of these contract “case”
tablets belong to the times of Khammurabi, the most celebrated king of
the First Dynasty of Babylon (_circ._ 1900 B.C.). Some of the envelopes
of these tablets bear the impression of a cylinder-seal, a good example
of which is found on a tablet recording the sale of a piece of land by
Sin-eribam and his brother to Sin-ikisham (Brit. Mus. No. 92649). The
clay of this class of tablet is generally somewhat dark in colour, and
the characters are often difficult to read.

The later, or Neo-Babylonian legal and commercial documents show greater
variation in size and shape than those belonging to the time of the
First Dynasty of Babylon. They are generally oblong, but on the smaller
tablets the text is generally written in such a manner that each line
extends over the length of the tablet instead of over its breadth. The
larger legal documents of this period are sometimes inscribed on tablets
of quite exceptional thickness, their general size and shape being not
unlike that of an old Latin prayer-book.


[Illustration: _British Museum_


But contracts were not the only kind of inscription protected by a clay
envelope or “case”; letters and despatches sometimes shared the same
consideration. Like contracts, letters were inscribed on small oblong
tablets, such as might be easily transmitted through the Babylonian and
Assyrian post, that is to say carried by the messenger whose duty it was
to convey the letter to its destination. As might be expected, the
envelope in this case bore the name of the person to whom the letter was
addressed, and occasionally also that of the sender, just as the
envelopes of letters are sometimes initialled to-day. Many of these
letters are of a royal character, and emanate from kings and princes.
Quite a number of letters and despatches from the early kings of Babylon
to their officials and governors have come down to us. They treat of
divers subjects: in one Khammurabi writes to Sin-Idinnam commanding him
to send forty-seven shepherds to Babylon in order that they may give an
account to the king of the flocks under their care (Brit. Mus. No.
23122). In another letter the king writes to the same prince with
instructions to arrest three officials and despatch them to Babylon,
while in yet another Khammurabi writes to Sin-Idinnam with orders to
restore a certain baker to his former position. Some of Sin-Idinnam’s
official correspondence has also been preserved. In one communication he
directs a legal officer to summon a certain man to appear in court
(Brit. Mus. No. 12868). Sin-Idinnam’s duties were clearly very varied
and must have been sufficiently arduous. In one of these despatches
Khammurabi orders Sin-Idinnam to cut down some “Abba” trees required by
smelters of metal (Brit. Mus. No. 26234). In another he commands the
same personage to see to the mustering of crews for transport-barges
(Brit. Mus. No. 27288). Others contain instructions to attend to the
repair of the banks of the Euphrates at various points. But his duties
were not exclusively civil; judicial affairs fell to his charge also;
thus it is that to him the king writes regarding a dispute between a
landlord and his tenant concerning the payment of rent for land, while
he is perpetually receiving orders to arrest delinquent officials and
other misconducted persons. In one letter (Brit. Mus. No. 12827)
Khammurabi directs Sin-Idinnam to postpone the date of a certain trial,
owing to the presence of the plaintiff, one Ili-Ippalzam, in the city of
Ur at a certain festival.

Elsewhere (Brit. Mus. No. 12841) Khammurabi issues a report to the same
overburdened official to the effect that certain persons have cancelled
a deed of mortgage, and commands the instant presence of Enubi-Marduk,
who received their lands on mortgage, in Babylon. Many of the letters of
these early kings of Babylon embody the royal wishes regarding the date
of sheep-shearing, or the reaping of corn, as well as instructions
concerning the irrigation canals.

In one letter, Samsu-iluna (Brit. Mus. No. 27269) instructs Sin-Idinnam
and the judges of Sippar to prohibit certain fishermen from fishing in
forbidden waters; at other times the same judges are directed to send a
particular case for trial in the capital (cf. Brit. Mus. No. 27266).
Another collection of letters written in cuneiform and on clay tablets
are the famous Tell el-Amarna Letters,—generally of somewhat larger size
and less distinctly oblong than the ordinary Babylonian despatches. The
majority of them are rectangular, though a few are oval. Some are convex
on both sides, some are flat on both sides, while others are
plano-convex or pillow-shaped. These tablets were discovered at Tell
el-Amarna in Egypt; they represent nearly all that remains of the
official and diplomatic correspondence which passed between the Pharaohs
Amenḥetep III and Amenḥetep IV of the Eighteenth Dynasty (i.e. they
belong to the fourteenth or fifteenth century B.C.), and their various
officials and vassals in Palestine. Some of the tablets found at Tell
el-Amarna are inscribed with letters from the King of Babylon, from the
King of Mitani, from the King of Alashiya, and other royal potentates,
but as they are mostly of Palestinian and Egyptian interest, a detailed
consideration of them would be out of place in this volume.

Among the larger rectangular clay tablets in existence are those
containing syllabaries. Owing to the deterioration and simplification
which the cuneiform characters underwent in the course of ages, the
Assyrian scribes found it necessary to make lists of the early
Babylonian characters adding what they believed to be the later Assyrian
equivalents. Most of these syllabaries consist of three columns; in the
middle column the Assyrian sign to be explained is given, on the left
the Sumerian value of the same, and in the right-hand column either the
Assyrian name for the sign, or else the Assyrian meaning, and
occasionally both. These syllabaries are obviously of immense importance
in the reconstruction of the old Sumerian language.

Other tablets of abnormally large size are those dealing with astrology,
magic and medicine: the two latter subjects are inextricably confused
owing to the fact that they went hand in hand with each other; the
medicine was prescribed and administered, but the medicine alone was by
no means sufficient to cure the patient, that could only be effected by
the potent spell of the magician.

But the largest clay tablets emanate from Babylonia and contain lists of
accounts mostly concerning grain, cattle, asses, lambs, sheep. Some of
these tablets are perfectly square, and measure as much as a foot each
way, while nearly all of them are more square than oblong: the clay of
which they are made is of fine quality, and the Babylonian characters
with which they are inscribed are singularly clear. Most of them may be
assigned to the second half of the third millennium B.C., and many of
them are specifically dated in the reign of Dungi, king of Ur about 2400
B.C. But as already mentioned, tablets were not always rectangular;
sometimes they assumed a circular form. Tablets of this kind are usually
inscribed in the Sumerian language, and contain lists of landed estates
and fields, with information regarding their size, their capacity for
producing crops and other details. Many of these circular tablets are
dated, the year deriving its name after some noteworthy event, as was
the regular mode of dating in the early days of Babylonian civilization.
Thus many of these lists are dated “in the year after that in which the
land of Khukhnuri was laid waste,” and were drawn up in the reign of
Bur-Sin and other kings of Ur, i.e. during the second half of the third
millennium B.C.

The clay of which these tablets are made is of the finest, while the
writing is exceedingly clear; they vary from about two to six inches in
diameter, and are oval on one side and more or less flat on the other.

Other large rectangular tablets are inscribed with lists of the
principal events in different kings’ reigns and are obviously of immense
importance for the reconstruction of Babylonian and Assyrian history.
One of the tablets belonging to this class (Brit. Mus. No. 92702) gives
us a list of the chief events, after which the various years of
Sumu-abu, Sumu-la-ilu, Zabum, Apil-Sin, Sin-muballit, Khammurabi and
Samsu-iluna, kings of the first dynasty of Babylon (about the end of the
third and beginning of the second millennium B.C.) were named. Another
of the same class (Brit. Mus. No. 92502) gives us a list of the leading
events which took place in Babylonia and Assyria from the third year of
Nabonassar, king of Babylon 744 B.C., and the first year of
Shamash-shum-ukîn, the contemporary of Ashur-bani-pal (668 B.C.). One of
the most interesting events here alluded to is the assassination of
Sennacherib by his son on the 20th day of the month Tebet, and in the
23rd year of his reign. Among other historical documents of primary
importance, a tablet generally known as “the Synchronous History” must
be placed in the first rank. This document is an agreement drawn up
about the time of Ashur-bani-pal, and it had as its object the
settlement of boundary-disputes between Babylonia and Assyria, while its
historical value lies largely in the short notices of the various
conflicts and alliances between the two countries from about 1600-800
B.C. One other large rectangular tablet (K. 3751) of exceptional
interest alike to the historian and the Biblical student, is the
document in which Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria 745-727 B.C.,
gives us an account of his building operations and conquests, and
mentions “Ahaz, King of Judah” as one of his tributary princes. This
tablet must have been very large when complete, for what remains of it
measures nine inches by seven and a half. The largest tablet in the
Kouyunjik collection is not however historical in character, but
contains a list of the names and titles of various gods, and in its
present fragmentary state measures fifteen inches in length.

Other cuneiform inscriptions were written on pieces of clay shaped like
cones. Most of these terra-cotta cones date from the time of the dynasty
of Ur, i.e. the latter half of the third millennium B.C. Two good
examples of this kind of cuneiform inscription bear the name of
Sin-gashid, king of Erech, and record the dedication of a temple to the
god Lugal-banda and the goddess Ninsun, and give the price of wool,
grain, oil and copper during the reign of Sin-gashid (Brit. Mus. 91,
150). Another baked clay cone is inscribed with the name of Sin-idinnam,
king of Larsa about 2300 B.C., and likewise records the dedication of a
temple—in this case that of the Sun-god, Larsa being one of the
principal centres of the worship of the Sun-god. But the conquering
Elamites, who imitated their subjugated enemies, the Babylonians, in so
many ways, also adopted the practice of writing cuneiform inscriptions
on clay cones; for an example of an Elamite cone we may compare Brit.
Mus. 91, 149, which bears the name of Kudur-Mabug. But the habit of
writing inscriptions on clay cones did not cease at this period, at
least not permanently, for a similar cone exists bearing the name of the
Neo-Babylonian king Nabopolassar (625-604 B.C.), and like the older
cones recording the dedication of a temple, this time the temple of
Marduk at Babylon. (Brit. Mus. No. 91,090.)

But Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions on clay were not always in the
form of rectangular or circular tablets; frequently they assumed the
form of large hexagonal, octagonal, or decagonal prisms, or in the case
of Babylonia of barrel-shaped cylinders. It was customary to place these
large clay memorials in the four corners of the foundation of a building
in Babylonia and Assyria, a good example of which practice was found at
Muḳeyyer (Ur): the cylinders from Ur had been deposited at the four
angles of the foundation of the temple of Sin, the Moon-god, by
Nabonidus, and they record the rebuilding of the temple by Nabonidus
(555-538 B.C.) on the site of the ancient temple erected by Ur-Engur and
his son Dungi, about 2400 B.C. The text finds a fitting conclusion in a
prayer to the god whose fane he is restoring, on behalf of his eldest
son Bal-shar-uṣur, the Biblical Belshazzar. Three octagonal prisms of
baked clay give us an account of the campaigns and building operations
of Tiglath-Pileser I, king of Assyria about 1100 B.C. (Brit. Mus.
91033-91035). Another prism is inscribed with an account of the
expeditions of Sargon, king of Assyria 721-705 B.C. (Brit. Mus. No.
22505), while the fragments of an octagonal prism of the same king, and
also preserved in the British Museum, (K. 1668, etc.) are of peculiar
interest in that they give Sargon’s own account of his campaign against
the Philistine city of Ashdod, which is referred to in Isaiah XX. I.
Judah is mentioned as one of the allies of Ashdod, but the Assyrians
were ultimately successful in reducing the rebellious city. Sargon’s
successor, Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), similarly caused his military
achievements to be recorded on large clay prisms, and the most
interesting document of his reign is preserved on the six sides of a
hexagonal prism now in the British Museum (91032). It records the defeat
of Merodach-Baladan, king of Babylon, and the subjugation of various
other peoples, but the particular interest attaching to this cylinder
lies in the allusions to the Palestinian campaign of 2 Kings xviii.
Sennacherib states that he severely punished the rebellious people of
Ekron and restored the banished Padî to his throne; he then proceeded to
attack Hezekiah in Jerusalem “his royal city”; he laid siege to
Jerusalem, and shut Hezekiah up like a bird in a cage, but in spite of
this demonstration, he was clearly unable to open the cage and seize the
bird. However, Hezekiah seems to have been duly impressed, and he
hastened to buy off Sennacherib with gifts and tribute—“thirty talents
of gold, eight hundred talents of silver, precious stones, eye paint ...
ivory couches and thrones, hides and tusks, precious woods and divers
objects,” together with his daughters, his women-folk and male and
female musicians—apparently being the price.

Another interesting octagonal prism of this same king has been recently
acquired by the British Museum (No. 103,000). It contains information
regarding two campaigns not recorded elsewhere. The first of these,
which took place in 698 B.C., was undertaken to suppress a revolt in
Cilicia; the campaign was completely successful and the Assyrian power
was entirely restored in those regions. It is interesting to note that
the city of Tarsus was one of those which Sennacherib sacked on this
occasion. The second campaign took place three years later in 695 B.C.,
and resulted in the siege and capture of a certain city called
Til-Garimum in the land of Tubal, which lay to the north-east of
Cilicia. We are also furnished with an account of the rebuilding and
fortification of Nineveh by Sennacherib, which contains valuable
information regarding the inner and outer wall of the city, and the
positions and names of the fifteen gates. It is dated in the eponymy[46]
of Ilu-Ittia, the Assyrian governor of Damascus. This cylinder was
apparently buried as a foundation memorial in the structure of one of
the city gates referred to in the text.

Esarhaddon, Sennacherib’s son and successor, has likewise left us a
number of hexagonal prisms of historic importance. One of the principal
events narrated on Esarhaddon’s cylinders is the siege and capture of
Sidon and the subjugation of the surrounding country. Ashur-bani-pal,
Esarhaddon’s famous son and successor, has left us a number of cylinders
and prisms, but by far the most important is that upon which an account
of the principal events of the early part of his reign is inscribed
(Brit. Mus., No. 91,026). We have here a record of his first and second
Egyptian campaigns, of the defeat he inflicted upon Tirhakah, the
Ethiopian king of Egypt, and the sack of Thebes, the capital of the
country. The capture of Tyre is also narrated and the campaign against
Te-Umman, king of Elam, whom Ashur-bani-pal slew and whose severed head
is seen hanging from a tree in the bas-relief in which Ashur-bani-pal
and his wife are reclining at meat in their garden. There is also an
account of the siege and capture of Babylon, whose king
Shamash-shum-ukîn had thrown off the suzerainty of Assyria; the conquest
of Arabia is recorded as well as the final triumph of the Assyrian arms
over Elam, and the text concludes with an account of Ashur-bani-pal’s
building operations.

We have already alluded to a clay cylinder belonging to the
Neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus, while another cylinder of the same king,
which has been discussed elsewhere (cf. p. 7), is equally notable, as a
complete system of chronology has been based upon its contents.
Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon 604-561 B.C., and belonging to the
same dynasty has likewise left us a number of barrel-shaped cylinders,
the inscriptions upon which are chiefly concerned with a recital of his
building achievements, while to the cylinder of Cyrus the Persian
conqueror of Babylonia (538 B.C.) reference has been made elsewhere (cf.
p. 74). But the practice of writing cuneiform inscriptions on baked clay
cylinders did not even come to an end with the Persian kings of
Babylonia, for we have a cylinder (Brit. Mus. 36277) bearing an
inscription in archaic Babylonian characters, of Antiochus Soter, king
of Babylonia about 280 B.C.; it records the restoration of the temples
E-Sagil, and E-zida in Babylon and Borsippa in the year 270 B.C., and
concludes with a prayer to the god Nebo on behalf of Antiochus, his son
Seleucus and his wife.

But besides rectangular, round, barrel-shaped, cylindrical and
cone-shaped clay inscriptions, yet other varieties exist. Among these a
four-sided block of clay forming an elongated kind of cube, the height
of which is 9-1/2 inches and the breadth of each of its four sides 3-3/4
inches (Brit. Mus. No. 92611), deserves a mention; its date is about
2100 B.C., and it is inscribed with lists of the names of fish, birds,
plants, stones and garments.

Another unique object is a clay model of an ox-hoof (Brit. Mus. No. R.
620), inscribed with forecasts. A somewhat similar object is found in a
clay model of a sheep’s liver, also preserved in the British Museum (No.
92,668); the inscription which it bears is magical in character, and the
object was probably used for divination purposes. Other tablets, though
not being moulded in the form of a sheep’s liver, bear the incised
outlines of different parts of the liver. Hepatoscopy, or the practice
of deriving omens from the shape, size, or condition of the liver, was
one of the most popular forms of magic among the Babylonians and

Plans of cities seem to have sometimes been drawn on clay tablets, a
good example of which is afforded by a tablet discovered at Nippur, and
incised with a plan of that city, a plan which in spite of its antiquity
seems to have helped the work of the excavators in no small degree.
Another example is the British Museum fragment (No. 35385), on which a
plan of part of the city of Babylon is still to be seen. Sometimes the
plan was merely that of an estate (cf. Brit. Mus. No. 31483), but in one
instance at all events, the world itself is the subject (Brit. Mus. No.
92687), the most interesting feature of which from the geographical
point of view is the world-encircling ocean—the Babylonians believing
the earth to be surrounded by and apparently supported on water: the
earth itself was supposed to resemble an inverted saucer in shape, while
the heavens bore the same shape, the only difference being that they
were obviously more extensive, and the lower edges rested on the earth
itself, while the edge of the earth rested upon the ocean.

Sometimes amulets were made of clay, a good example of which is Brit.
Mus. No. 85-4-8, 1; it is shaped like a cylinder-seal, and is inscribed
with an incantation for Shamash-Killâni.

Other inscribed clay objects are those known as astrolabæ or instruments
for making astrological calculations.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.] [Illustration: FIG. 4. (Brit. Mus., 103040.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 5. (Brit. Mus., 91102.)]

Labels again were made of clay: two small clay labels (Brit. Mus. K.
1400, K. 1539) give us the titles of two series of astrological and omen
tablets; while another (K. 3787) gives us the name of Khipa, a female
slave; it is dated in the 11th year of Marduk-aplu-iddina, i.e. _circ._
710 B.C. There are miscellaneous clay objects which do not properly come
under the heading of terra-cotta figures or clay bas-reliefs, and
therefore may be mentioned here. Sometimes clay squeezes or impressions
were made of early inscriptions; an excellent example of such squeezes
was acquired some years ago by the University of Pennsylvania (cf. Fig.
3);[47] it is a squeeze made by a Neo-Babylonian scribe of the sixth
century B.C. of an inscription belonging to Shar-Gâni-sharri, king of
Akkad. The characters of course are raised in relief and read backwards.
Allusion is elsewhere made to the clay brick-stamps with which
Babylonian kings were in the habit of inscribing their building bricks:
an interesting specimen of a clay brick-stamp is seen in Fig. 4. It is a
fragment of a stamp belonging to Narâm-Sin, the son of Shar-Gâni-sharri.
The characters here are of course in relief and reversed as in the case
of a seal. Another clay object of exceptional interest is seen in Fig.
5; it is a clay covering made by order of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon
625-604 B.C., for the preservation of the stone tablet of his
predecessor Nabû-aplu-iddina (_circ._ 870 B.C.). It was presumably
during the course of his work at the restoration of the temple of the
Sun-god at Sippar that he alighted upon this early tablet. The clay
cover bears an inscription of Nabopolassar on the reverse side and
records the various offerings he deposited at the shrine of the Sun-god.
The cover itself was found in a baked clay box, also preserved in the
British Museum, and probably belonging to the same reign. Clay was
further employed by the sculptor for tentative sketches, and by the
stone-inscriber for rough drafts. Thus the sculptor to whom we are
indebted for the portrayal of Ashur-bani-pal, king of Assyria, spearing
a lion, sketched out his picture in clay preparatory to chiselling it on
slabs of stone, and his original sketch is still extant (cf. Brit. Mus.
93011), while we can still see two rough drafts on clay of epigraphs
inscribed on Ashur-bani-pal’s bas-reliefs (cf. Brit. Mus. Sm. 1350 and
K. 4453 + K. 4515).


The architecture of a country is determined very largely by the
materials with which nature has endowed that country; it is also
influenced by the configuration of the country itself as well as by the
climate whose effects it is the builder’s object to either regulate or
counteract. The physical characteristics of the Mesopotamian Valley as
also the climatic conditions which prevail there have already been under
consideration, but it will not perhaps be unfitting to devote a few
pages to a review of the materials which were used for building
operations, before we proceed to discuss the ruins of the buildings

It has been already stated, that practically no stone at all is to be
found in the low-lying and marshy country of Babylonia, hence it never
assumed an important place in Babylonian architecture; any stone
required, had to be quarried far away in the mountains and transported
at great labour, in consequence of which it was only employed for
exceptional purposes and in cases where the desire for permanent
durability rendered it necessary. Accordingly the stone used was
generally diorite, basalt, or some other hard stone of volcanic origin,
contrasting strikingly with the softer stone utilized so freely by the
Assyrians. Assyria on the other hand was more fortunate in this respect
and afforded a very fair supply of limestone and alabaster which were
used extensively by her sculptors and builders, though the clay so
easily procurable all over the valley was the one indispensable element
in the erection of temples, palaces, or houses in both countries. The
supply of wood again was extremely scanty not only in Babylonia but also
in Assyria, and any wood used for columns, lintels or thresholds was
generally brought from Lebanon, Amanus, or some other distant place.

We thus see that the art of brick-building was almost forced upon the
dwellers of Mesopotamia from the very necessity of the case.

The clay used for the purpose was by no means uniform either as regards
its colour, or as regards its quality. Sometimes it is of a light yellow
colour, sometimes it is almost black, while the clay from which other
bricks are made is of a reddish hue. Those made of light yellow clay are
the best from the point of view of durability. The bricks further vary
both in size and shape according to the period to which they belong, so
that it is often possible to provisionally assign a date to a building
or the remains of a building by an examination of the style of brick
employed. The type of brick characteristic of the early periods of
Sumerian history is that known as the plano-convex[48] type; thus the
kiln-burnt bricks of which the storehouse of Ur-Ninâ, the first king of
Lagash, was composed, are oblong and plano-convex, while each of them
also bears the impression of a thumb-mark on the convex side.

But a yet earlier form of brick[49] was found in the building underneath
Ur-Ninâ’s storehouse: the bricks of which this building was composed
were indeed plano-convex like those of Ur-Ninâ, but they were smaller,
had no thumb-or finger-marks and were also unfortunately uninscribed.

At Muḳeyyer (Ur) Taylor came across a pavement made of plano-convex
bricks, the antiquity of which was attested alike by the appearance of
this type of brick and also by the depth below the surface at which the
platform was found. This excavator discovered similar bricks at Abû
Shahrein (Eridu), a further corroboration of the traditional antiquity
of Ea’s once famous city. The excavations at other early sites have
also yielded the same results; at Fâra (Shuruppak) the traditional
scene of the Deluge, as well as at Yôkha, Bismâya, and in the
pre-Sargonic strata at Nippur, the same style of bricks has been found.

But with the expansion of the Semites, culminating in the establishment
of the empire of Shar-Gâni-sharri and his son Narâm-Sin, the
comparatively small, oblong and plano-convex brick fell into disuse, and
gave way to a large square brick. Immediately beneath the crude-brick
platform of Ur-Engur (_circ._ 2400 B.C.) at Nippur, part of the earlier
work of Narâm-Sin and Shar-Gâni-sharri was uncovered, the bricks used
being no longer plano-convex and oblong, but flat and square, and
measuring 20 x 20 x 3-1/2 inches; they are made of clay mixed with
straw, and are at the same time well-dried and very hard; this type of
brick was employed in all the buildings of these two kings.

The next period in the history of Babylonian brick-making is that
belonging to the times of the second dynasty of Lagash and the first
dynasty of Ur (i.e. _circ._ 2450 B.C.). The type of brick characteristic
of this age resembles that of the preceding in regard to shape but not
in regard to size. The bricks of Ur-Engur, king of Ur, and of Gudea, the
most renowned ruler of the second dynasty of Lagash (_circ._ 2450 B.C.)
are square like those of their Semitic predecessors, Shar-Gâni-sharri
and Narâm-Sin, but very much smaller, measuring a little over 12 x 12
inches, and this small square brick remained in use, with occasional
slight variations, till the close of Mesopotamian history. The
transition from the large brick used by the kings of Agade to the small
brick in question was doubtless effected only gradually, for the bricks
of Ur-bau, ruler of Lagash some time before Gudea, are larger than those
of the latter king, but after the time of Gudea and Ur-Engur, the shape
and size of the bricks became more or less stereotyped. The bricks of
Ur-Engur himself vary somewhat from those of Gudea, thus the solid mass
underlying the temple-tower at Nippur, which was constructed by
Ur-Engur, is composed of bricks measuring only 9 × 6 × 3 inches, the
arms of the causeway on the other hand are built of larger bricks
measuring 14 × 14 × 6 inches. Kiln-burnt bricks were always used for the
important parts of the building in Babylonia, the crude sun-dried bricks
which as a rule formed the core of the terraced platforms, being
revetted with a wall of burnt brick, or sometimes, in the case of
Assyria with a supporting wall of stone. The reason of course for this
lay in the inability of sun-dried bricks to resist damp, and their
corresponding tendency to disintegrate. The bricks were as a rule
carried on to the ground as soon as they were fairly dry and firm, and
were laid while still soft.

Generally speaking the bricks bear the name of the king who caused the
structure to be made, thus the majority of the bricks of Nebuchadnezzar,
king of Babylon (604-561 B.C.) are inscribed:—“Nebuchadnezzar, King of
Babylon, restorer of the pyramid and tower, eldest son of Nabopolassar,
King of Babylon, am I.” It is interesting to note that though the tiles
on the western side of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace at Babylon bear the
ordinary stamp of that king, those on the eastern side are stamped with
a lion and an Aramaic inscription. Koldewey indeed says that there is no
doubt that this part of the building was also erected by Nebuchadnezzar,
as wall-tiles bearing the regular palace-inscription of the king have
been found there. Prof. Euting however, from the forms of the Aramaic
characters, would assign these Aramaic-inscribed bricks to the middle of
the seventh century, i.e. about 650 B.C. None of the bricks found on the
Kasr mound bear the stamp of any Assyrian kings, the latter apparently
only having left their marks on the floor-bricks of E-sagila, the temple
of Marduk. The characters were generally impressed with a stamp, though
on both Assyrian and Babylonian bricks the inscription was sometimes
engraved by hand. The stamps used were made of terra-cotta; a
well-preserved specimen of a terra-cotta brick-stamp is that of
Narâm-Sin referred to above (cf. Fig. 4), while a terra-cotta
brick-stamp of Shar-Gâni-sharri, the father of Narâm-Sin, was discovered
at Nippur, and one of the minor results of the expedition to Bismâya,
directed by Harper, was the discovery of a number of clay brick-stamps.
Many Assyrian and Babylonian bricks are glazed or enamelled and coloured
in the most ornate fashion, and with the most striking pictures and
designs, but an examination of these will naturally find its place in
the chapter devoted to “Painting.”

Sometimes the architects of Babylonia contrived to adapt the clay
employed in their building operations to decorative devices. Such was
the case at Warka (Erech) where Loftus discovered a wall some thirty
feet long, composed entirely of clay cones fixed in a cement made of mud
and straw, and laid horizontally with their bases outwards. Some of
these cones had been coloured red or black and were arranged to form
various geometrical designs. They were sometimes inscribed, sometimes
not. But clay cones were apparently not the only kind of cone used for
architectural decoration, for in the course of his excavations at Abû
Shahrein, Taylor[50] discovered cones of limestone and marble, some of
which had a “rim round the edge filled with copper”; these cones vary
from four to ten inches in length, their diameter measuring from one to
three inches.


The layers and courses of clay bricks of which the buildings in
Mesopotamia were for the most part composed, were cemented together by
mud in the earliest times; this clay-mud is generally distinguishable
from the bricks which it unites by the difference of its colour.
Mud-mortar has been found on some of the earliest sites and in some of
the most ancient buildings, while in Assyria it appears to have been the
regular form of cement used at all times. In the city of Babylon,
strange to say, clay mortar appears to have been used instead of lime or
asphalt in the late buildings of Sassanidian times. This mud-mortar
consisted of clay mixed with water and perhaps a little straw, as was
the case in the cone-wall at Warka,[51] while sometimes reeds embedded
in clay were laid between the bricks, as was the case at both Warka and
Hammam, but at an extremely remote period the Babylonian architect began
to avail himself of the rich supply of bitumen gratuitously yielded by
the soil of his native land, for the purpose in question.

The most famous bituminous springs in Mesopotamia were those at Ḥit on
the Euphrates. Their fame had reached Egypt as early as the time of the
eighteenth dynasty, for Thothmes III brought bitumen thence to Egypt.
Herodotus a millennium later—about 450 B.C.—alludes to Ḥit as famous for
her bitumen, and subsequent writers make similar mention of the springs
there. A good example of the early use of bitumen in Babylonia was found
at Abû Shahrein, the site of ancient Eridu, where a very early building
was excavated by Taylor, the antiquity of which was proved by the
pre-Sargonic plano-convex bricks used in its construction, and these
bricks were all laid in bitumen; the same was found to be the case in a
building composed of finger-marked bricks at Ur (Muḳeyyer), all of which
were embedded in bitumen.

The platform upon which Ur-Ninâ’s storehouse at Tellô was erected
consisted of three layers of plano-convex and finger-marked bricks, all
set in bitumen, while in the building underneath that of Ur-Ninâ,
bitumen was also freely used.[52]

In like manner at Nippur, the finger-marked bricks of which the
city-gate was constructed were laid in bitumen, though the bricks
composing the early arch found on this site were set in mud, probably an
indication that at the time when the arch was built bitumen was not
used; around the base of Ur-Engur’s ziggurat on the other hand there was
a coating of bitumen, while the crude brick altar found by Haynes in the
lowest stratum at Nippur had a rim of bitumen; but in later times it was
supplemented by the more tenacious lime-mortar, though only partially
was this the case, for even as late as Nebuchadnezzar’s time (604-561
B.C.) its practical utility as a preventive against the destructive
forces of rain were still recognized, the burnt brick retaining walls of
his palace at Babylon being actually laid in bitumen. In like manner the
bricks composing the old fortification wall, are rendered adhesive by
means of a lavish prodigality of asphalt, so adhesive in fact, that it
is often very difficult to separate them. Fortunately the side bearing
the stamped inscription has its face downwards and therefore is not in
immediate contact with the asphalt from which it is separated by the
layer of reeds and clay already alluded to.

In the later buildings at Babylon, however, lime-mortar is also used,
the transition period being marked by the employment of both in one and
the same building, and in point of fact Koldewey found that in the case
of one of the walls of a building of Nebuchadnezzar, one half of the
wall was cemented together by means of asphalt, while in the other half
lime-mortar alone was used. But in the new castle which Nebuchadnezzar
built for himself on the Kasr, the very finest materials were employed,
the bricks being of a pale yellow colour and extremely hard, contrasting
with the bricks used in his earlier buildings, which are of a
reddish-brown colour and less durable, while in this new structure, pure
white lime-mortar alone is used. Lime-mortar, as well as mud-cement and
bitumen, was employed at Nippur, as also at Birs-Nimrûd (Borsippa), and
the mortar used has such adhesive properties that the bricks can only be
separated by breaking them, while at Muḳeyyer (Ur) a mortar composed of
a mixture of lime and ashes was employed.

In Assyria on the other hand, mortar seems to have been used more
sparingly; when stone was employed as a building material, generally
speaking no cement of any kind was used, the stones being carefully
dressed so as to permit of no interstices, as for example was found to
be the case with the stone retaining-wall round the ziggurat at Nimrûd;
when ordinary crude bricks were employed, they were laid in a sufficient
state of moisture to render them adhesive; while when burnt brick was
the material in question, the mortar adopted was a mixture of clay and
water. Bitumen however was by no means unknown in Assyria, but it was
used chiefly under pavements or the limestone floors of sewers, to
prevent leakage or infiltration.


The use of stone in Babylonia, as a building accessory, although seldom
as a fundamental material, dates from the most ancient Sumerian times. A
very early example of the use of stone for definitely architectural
purposes in Babylonia is afforded by the pavement upon which a building
at Lagash, found under the structure of Ur-Ninâ, was erected. The
pavement[53] consists of slabs of limestone, three or four feet long,
one and a half to two feet broad, and about six inches thick. The
door-sockets, again, of some of the earliest rulers of Lagash have been
brought to light, among which may be mentioned those of the illustrious
Eannatum and Entemena, all being made of marble or some other hard
stone, while in Eridu, one of the most ancient sites of civilization in
the Euphrates Valley, stone seems to have been quite extensively used.
The terraced artificial platform upon which the temple and city of Eridu
were built was buttressed by a wall of sandstone, and the staircase
which led up to the first stage of the ziggurat was made of polished
marble slabs, which are now lying about casually on the mound; pieces of
agate and alabaster were discovered, and granite was also employed
there. Stone gate-sockets have been similarly found at Nippur and in the
ruins of other early cities of Babylonia, while both the Semite
Narâm-Sin, and the Sumerian Gudea a little later, brought heavy blocks
of diorite from Magan, or Sinai, though apparently for sculptural rather
than for architectural purposes.

In the Neo-Babylonian era stone was employed to a greater extent: the
procession pavement of the god Marduk at Babylon, discovered recently by
the Germans, was formed of slabs of limestone, bearing an inscription of
Nebuchadnezzar, while Herodotus tells us that the bridge which then
united the two banks of the Euphrates was made of “very large
stones,”[54] and according to the classical writers, Strabo and
Diodorus, the famous hanging gardens of Babylon, which Koldewey would
locate to the east of the palace, were supported by stone architraves.
But the stone used only for exceptional purposes in Babylonia, was
re-used time and again, the ruins being regarded as a quarry, and
consequently the stone has for the most part disappeared entirely.

In Assyria, on the other hand, stone was easily procurable and
therefore readily used, though not to the extent one would expect, the
reason being that the Assyrian was not an inventor but an imitator of
his predecessor, the Babylonian, who afforded him little or no example
in the working of stone. Accordingly even in Assyria, stone was for the
most part used only for pavements, plinths and the lining of walls: at
times however it was also used for the retaining walls which enclosed an
artificial mound. The blocks of stone used for this latter purpose were
sometimes of colossal size, measuring even as much as 6 × 6 × 9 feet and
weighing some tons. The principal kinds of stone employed by the
Assyrian architects were limestone, of varying degrees of hardness, and
alabaster, which latter is often found in Assyria itself a little below
the surface of the soil. Alabaster is a sulphate of chalk, it is grey in
colour, soft, and admits of a high polish, but it is brittle and
deteriorates in course of time. At Nimrûd (Calah) some of the drainage
channels were covered with large slabs of limestone, and the ziggurat of
Nimrûd, of which only one storey remains, was faced with a massive stone
revetment wall, while occasionally stone columns appear to have been
used, and one part of a column composed of carved limestone, some forty
inches high and including both the capital and the upper part of the
shaft in one piece has been actually discovered. Layard further found
four bases of columns made of limestone, on the northern side of
Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh (cf. Fig. 14). Sometimes the lintels of
doors were made of stone; one such stone lintel was found by George
Smith at the entrance to the hall in Sennacherib’s palace, while the
sill or threshold generally, or at all events very frequently, consisted
of alabaster or limestone. Similarly the floors of the more important
rooms were formed of limestone-slabs.

The harder stones were notwithstanding sometimes employed in Assyria
just as limestone was occasionally used in Babylonia, but as a general
rule, in either case for sculptural rather than building purposes. The
well-known black obelisk of Shalmaneser II (860-825 B.C.) already
alluded to, was supposed to afford a good example of the use of volcanic
stones in the northern country, but the material of which it is made is
probably alabaster. A basalt statue of this same king was however
brought to light by the German excavations at Ashur some few years ago,
while the capital of a column found on the same site, belonging possibly
to the time of Tiglath-Pileser I, gives us an illustration of the use of
hard stones for purely architectural purposes by the Assyrians. It is
uncertain from what quarter they obtained these harder stones, but
basalt and other igneous rocks may be quarried in the valleys of the
streams that poured their waters into the Tigris and Euphrates, and in
the valley of the Khabour Layard informs us that he discovered many
extinct volcanoes.


Assyria afforded a better supply of wood than Babylonia, the latter
country being as poor in wood as it is in stone. The only trees from
which beams sufficiently long to be of any use could be obtained, were
the poplar and the palm tree. Wood being more perishable than either
clay or stone, we naturally do not expect to find the same amount of
material evidence of its usage; sufficient however has survived the
ravages of time to establish the certainty of its usage in Mesopotamia
as a building material from the earliest to the latest times. Thus for
example at Nippur, Peters found charred beams of palm-wood which
evidently had at one time formed the roof of the corridor in which it
was discovered; pieces of tamarisk were in like manner found upon the
brick threshold of a doorway, which probably represented all that
remained of the doors and door-posts. Similarly at Lagash not far from
Ur-Ninâ’s storehouse were found the charred remains of pillars made of
cedar-wood, which doubtless at one time supported a portico made of the
same material, while Ur-Ninâ himself records that he fetched wood from
the mountains, as did his descendants of later days. In like manner the
roof of a temple erected by Eannatum I a successor of Ur-Ninâ was
constructed of cedar-wood. So too at Muḳeyyer (Ur), large quantities of
charred wood were discovered,[55] while at Abû Shahrein (Eridu), the
casement wall of the ziggurat is studded with square holes—three inches
square, which are filled with wood.[56] After the establishment of
Babylonian sovereignty over the land of Amurru, (i.e. Syria and
Palestine) by Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin, the kings of Babylonia
regularly obtained cedar-wood from the Lebanon, as did the early kings
of Egypt. In a room at Nippur used apparently for storing unbaked
tablets in the time of Gimil-Sin (_c._ 2350 B.C.) wooden shelves had
seemingly been used for the purpose, while the roof of the famous castle
at Babylon, rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar, was made of cedar-wood, as also
were the doors, and the portal-like entrance of one of the buildings at
Babylon excavated by Koldewey was roofed throughout with a ceiling of

Of the use of wood in Assyria, the wall reliefs would alone afford ample
evidence, for parts of some of the structures there encountered could
only possibly have been made of wood. Shalmaneser II (860-825 B.C.) in
commemorating his reconstruction of the temple of Anu and Adad at Ashur,
says that he roofed it over with beams of cedar, and those of the larger
rooms of the palaces which were not vaulted must have been roofed with
wood, because there is no evidence of the existence of slabs of stone of
sufficient size to have effected the purpose, and large flat brick roofs
would be out of the question. In like manner Tiglath-Pileser III states
that he made a palace of cedar-wood[57] while Esarhaddon says that the
doors of one of the palaces which he erected for himself were made of
cypress-wood and were covered with silver and copper,[58] while in
another passage he states that in his building operations at Babylon he
used oaks, terebinths and palms. At Khorsabad, Place further found
fragments of cedar-beams which had been clearly used for architectural
purposes, and probably formed part of the lintels of the doorways in
which they were found; so too Layard in the course of his excavations
found the charred remains of wood together with a beam of cedar-wood,
all of which are now in the British Museum. The scantiness of the
remains of wood thus used is adequately accounted for by the
destructibility of that material.


Metal can hardly be said to have been used for purely architectural
purposes at all, and when employed seems rather to have been added for
the adornment of the more conspicuous parts of the building, than used
as an integral part of the structure. There are, however, one or two
exceptions to this generalization. The sills were sometimes made of
metal in the more luxurious buildings, and a bronze sill measuring 60 ×
20 × 3-1/2 inches, with an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar has actually
come to light, and is now in the British Museum, while another object of
a singularly unique character, consisting of a bronze gate-socket set in
lead, has similarly found its way to that famous institution. Herodotus
furthermore tells us in his account of Babylon that the walls had a
hundred gates “all of bronze; their jambs and lintels were of the same
material.” Some of the bas-reliefs also exhibit structures, parts of
which must seemingly have been made of metal: the royal pavilion carved
on the tablet from Abû Habba (Sippar) for example (cf. Pl. XIV) is
provided with a curved back wall which at the same time is bent right
over so as to form a roof; this wall and roof may indeed have been
constructed of wood, but metal would clearly have adapted itself the
more easily to such a form. Of other minor building materials, such as
tools, and nails which played a subsidiary part in Mesopotamian
architecture, we know comparatively little, though a number of nails
have been recovered from different sites.


It would be quite impossible to give an account of all the temples and
palaces in Mesopotamia, excavated during the last sixty years, we must
therefore confine ourselves to a brief description of a few of the
better explored buildings, which may with reserve be regarded as
typical. The temples have not weathered the deteriorating effects of
time and climate so well as the palaces, the reason for which is to be
found in the fact that, generally speaking, the object of the
temple-builder was so far as possible to erect a structure whose top
should metaphorically “reach unto heaven,” whereas the culminating glory
of palaces lay not in the height to which they were reared but in the
extent of ground which they covered.

As to the general plan of Sumerian temples we are still in a state of
ignorance, for on the earliest sites of Babylonian occupation, few
important buildings have been unearthed. The best preserved and most
thoroughly explored temple in Southern Babylonia is that of En-lil at
Nippur. A Babylonian plan of this once famous shrine, drawn on a clay
tablet and probably belonging to the first half of the second millennium
B.C. was discovered by Haynes in the course of his excavations, and has
been of no small assistance in determining the general character of this
Babylonian temple in its later reconstructed state, while it may be in
reality a copy of an earlier plan,[59] as it accords so well with the
general conclusions to be drawn as to the configuration of the temple in
the time of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Nâram-Sin, both of whom, and especially
the latter, did much in the way of repairing this ancient fane.




_(Both from C. S. Fisher’s “Excavations at Nippur,” by permission)_]

The most prominent feature in connection with the temple of Nippur as
revealed by the excavations, is the ziggurat, or stage-tower erected by
Ur-Engur, king of Ur (_circ._ 2400 B.C.). The ruined mounds of Nuffar,
or Niffer (cf. Pl. X), are situated on the eastern side of the
Shatt-en-Nîl canal which at one time formed a line of communication
between the Persian Gulf and the city of Babylon. The mounds in
question, the principal of which marks the site of Ur-Engur’s ziggurat,
were excavated by Peters, Harper, Haynes and Hilprecht, under the
auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, between the years 1889 and
1900. The tower surmounts an artificial platform measuring roughly 192 ×
127 feet, and in accordance with the usual Babylonian principle of
orientation, has its four corners facing the cardinal points of the
compass. The ziggurat apparently only had three stages in
contradistinction to the seven-staged tower characteristic of the
Babylonian and Assyrian temples of later days, though Gudea’s temple of
E-pa erected in honour of his god Nin-girsu was seven-zoned, which
probably means that it was a seven-staged tower. The ziggurat at
Muḳeyyer[60] (Ur) excavated by Taylor similarly appears to have been
three-storied, or possibly only two-storied. The lower storey, protected
with a wall of burnt brick four feet in thickness, was further
strengthened with buttresses, though it should be mentioned that the
so-called “buttresses” of the stage towers of Babylonia and Assyria are
in the majority of cases water-conduits for draining the upper
platforms. The second storey, the base of which is connected with the
lower storey by means of a staircase three yards broad, is composed of
bricks entirely different to those of the lower storey, those of the
lower storey being 11-1/4 × 11-1/4 × 2-1/4 inches, and bearing a small
stamp 3-1/4 inches square, while those of the second are 13 × 13 × 3
inches, the stamp measuring 8 × 4 inches. The bricks of the first storey
were laid in bitumen, while those of the second—the bricks on the
northern side being excepted—are set in a mortar consisting of lime and
ashes. The ascent to the summit of the second storey was effected by
means of an inclined pathway: from which facts it would appear that the
two stories were not built at the same time. The ziggurat at Abû
Shahrein,[61] also excavated by Taylor, is about seventy feet high, and
like that at Muḳeyyer is cased with a wall of burnt brick. Here, too,
the top of the first storey is reached by means of a staircase, fifteen
feet broad, access to the summit of the second storey being gained by an
inclined road as at Muḳeyyer.

The approach to En-lil’s ziggurat at Nippur is on the south-east side,
and is marked by two walls of burnt brick, some ten or more feet high
and over fifty-two feet long, a space of about twenty-three feet
separating the two walls from each other, while the causeway itself
which led up to the ziggurat was formed of crude bricks. The whole of
the temple enclosure was surrounded by a massive wall, and some thirty
courses of the bricks which composed it, still remain. Below the
crude-brick platform upon which the tower was erected, another pavement
of much finer construction, made of large well-burnt bricks nearly all
of which were inscribed with the stamps of Shar-Gâni-sharri or
Narâm-Sin, was discovered. Directly to the south-east of the ziggurat, a
large chamber about thirty-six feet long, over eleven feet wide and some
eight feet high was found, the floor of which rested on the platform of
Narâm-Sin. The inscribed bricks proved that this chamber, like the
ziggurat itself was built by Ur-Engur. Immediately below it, a second
chamber of the same kind was discovered, in which was found a brick
stamp of Shar-Gâni-sharri: around the walls of this chamber ran a
narrow shelf on which some tablets are said to have been found. Haynes
excavated right down to the virgin-soil, and states that he discovered
at least two temples below the pavement of Narâm-Sin; in the lowest
stratum an altar of crude brick measuring 13 × 8 feet is said to have
been found, on which there was a large deposit of white ashes. Around
the “altar” there was a low wall surrounding the sacred enclosure, on
the outside of which two clay vases some twenty-five inches high, and
decorated with a rope-pattern were brought to light. On the south-east
of the “altar” is a crude-brick platform nearly twenty-three feet square
and over nine and a half feet thick. Around the base of this, Haynes
informs us that he found a number of water-vents, while beneath this
solid mass, he found a drain running underneath the platform, in the
roof of which a true keystone arch was discovered. This arch was found
about twenty-three feet below the pavement of Ur-Engur and more than
fourteen and a half feet below the platform of Narâm-Sin. Unfortunately
the lowest strata in the mound have been so much disturbed, and the
buildings so ruthlessly pillaged, that it is impossible to dogmatize
about the dates of all that the excavations have revealed.

With regard to the ziggurat itself, the lowest of its three stages would
appear to have been some twenty and a half feet high: the slope of the
sides upwards is about one in four, and the second terrace is set back
some thirteen and a half feet from the surface of the one below. The
lower terrace is protected with burnt brick on the south-east side,
while on all the other sides the foundation is of burnt brick, four
courses high and eight courses wide, surmounted by crude bricks covered
with a plaster consisting of clay and chopped straw, which helped to
preserve the crude brickwork. In the centre of each of these three sides
there was a water-conduit by which the upper parts of the ziggurat were
drained (cf. Pl. XI); the conduit was made of burnt bricks, and was ten
and a half feet in depth and three and a half feet span. Around the base
of the ziggurat, was a coating of bitumen which sloped outwards, with
gutters to drain off the water, and thus preserve the crude bricks from

From this brief description of the architectural remains discovered at
Nippur, it will be seen at once, that, though the information afforded
is of supreme importance and of the utmost value, we are still at a loss
as to the general appearance of an early Babylonian temple, the
temple-tower of the later Ur-Engur of course being excepted. A
restoration of the temple as it probably appeared in the days of
Ur-Engur has been made by Hilprecht and Fisher, and is reproduced by
their kind permission in Fig. 6.

Of the temple erected by Gudea to the honour and glory of his god
Nin-girsu, we know comparatively little beyond what he tells us, but from
his account, it was evidently very elaborate, for it contained chambers
for the priests, treasure-houses, granaries, and enclosures for the
various sacrificial victims. In later times there appear to have been
two general types of temple in vogue in Babylonia, the one having a
staged tower as its characteristic feature, the other being
distinguished by its absence. Of the latter type, we have a good example
in the temple of Nin-makh at Babylon, excavated by the Deutsche
Orient-Gesellschaft. The goddess Nin-makh had been venerated as early
as the first dynasty of Lagash, for in Entemena’s time temples were
already erected in her honour. Her temple at Babylon was made chiefly
of sun-dried bricks, the four corners being oriented towards the four
points of the compass as usual: it comprised a courtyard, as well as
a number of rooms some of which were painted, and traces of white
decoration were still visible. Apparently a vestibule led into a
courtyard or hall, around which were situated various rooms and halls,
and into which they also opened. The inner courtyard offers a point of
contrast with the Assyrian temple at Nimrûd, which has no such interior
hall. Near the ruins of this temple was the famous Ishtar-gate, the
sides of which were formed of massive walls which were found still
preserved to the height of thirty-nine feet. These walls were decorated
with reliefs on enamelled bricks representing animals of both normal
and abnormal character. There were apparently at least eleven rows of
these reliefs portraying bulls or dragons one above the other.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.—Restoration of the Temple at Nippur. (After
Hilprecht and Fisher.)]

But of all Babylonian temples, that of E-temen-an-ki built by
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon upon the site of an ancient shrine, is by
far the most famous. This temple is called by Herodotus (I, 181) the
temple of Belus, and it was undoubtedly a very magnificent building both
in point of size as well as in point of splendour. Herodotus in his
description states that it was formed of a solid block of masonry, upon
which was superimposed another block of smaller size, and so on till
there were finally eight blocks in all, the first or lowest however, was
simply the foundation of the whole ziggurat, and is not to be regarded
as a “stage” at all; it was accordingly a perfect seven-staged tower,
the topmost block of which supported a shrine. The summit was reached by
means of an ascent going round the structure. According to the late
George Smith, whose estimates were based on a Babylonian description
contained in a tablet at one time in his possession, the height was 300
feet, the sides of its square base being of the same dimensions; the
second storey measured 260 feet square and its height was 60 feet. The
third, fourth and fifth storeys were each 20 feet high, and measured
200, 170 and 140 feet square respectively. The variation in height of
the different stages forms a point of contrast with the regularity
exhibited by the ziggurat at Khorsabad, of which the remains of four
stages are still to be seen. Concerning the sixth stage the Babylonian
tablet was apparently silent, while the top storey supporting the
sanctuary of the god was stated to have measured 80 × 70 feet, and to
have been 50 feet high. The seven stages without doubt at one time shone
with the seven planetary colours, as was the case with the seven-staged
tower at Khorsabad, on the lower remaining stages of which the colours
were still found, the order of the colours being, white for the lowest
stage, black for the next, while the succeeding storeys were painted
blue, yellow, silver, and gold. The ziggurat was surrounded by an
enclosure, some 400 yards square, the ingress and egress to which was by
means of bronze gates. A double-winged building on the west, presumably
the shrine of the god, contained a couch of gold and a throne with steps
also of gold, while the temple further contained an image of the god
himself, made of solid gold. The Babylonian account informs us that the
temple comprised two oblong courts, one within the other, the building
as a whole consisting in a series of sanctuaries, although of course the
most conspicuous and therefore perhaps the most important element in its
composition, was the ziggurat.



(_From C. S. Fisher’s “Excavations at Nippur,” by permission_)]

But Nebuchadnezzar’s building operations were not confined to the
erection of a temple in honour of Belus: he rebuilt or restored the
great walls of the city of Babylon, Imgur-Bêl and Nimitti-Bêl, he
constructed temples for Shamash the Sun-god at Sippar and Larsa, both of
which cities had been ancient centres of the cult of this god, while in
Babylon he erected a temple to the goddess Nin-makh. At Borsippa
(Birs-Nimrûd), he bestowed much attention and care upon the ancient
shrine of Nebo, and his work on this site has been identified by some
scholars with the magnificent temple described above, to which Herodotus
refers at such length, though as Hommel and Pinches both point out, the
distance of Borsippa from Babylon is rather against the identification.
On the other hand at Borsippa there are the remains of what once may
well have been the magnificent temple in question, while at the city of
Babylon itself no such remains are to be seen; and in regard to the
objection raised to the identification of these remains with the famous
temple of Belus on the ground that Borsippa was too far distant, it must
be recollected that we do not really know how far the city extended,
whether in fact it may not have even included Borsippa within its
boundaries, for, according to Herodotus, the circuit of the city
measured some fifty-six miles. Nebuchadnezzar’s own account of his
architectural achievements is inscribed on a number of barrel-shaped
clay cylinders and on the well-known East India House Inscription.

The Assyrian temples seem for the most part to have conformed to the
same general type as that prevalent in Babylonia. One of the earliest
explored, and at present perhaps the most famous, is that excavated by
Layard at Nimrûd (Calah).[62] It consisted in an outer courtyard, from
which the worshipper entered into a vestibule measuring 46 feet by 19
feet,[63] beyond which there was a side chamber and a hall 47 feet long
and 31 feet broad, ending in a recess paved with a huge alabaster slab,
21 feet long, 16 feet 7 inches broad and 1 foot 1 inch thick, in which
was probably set the image of the god; many stone slabs of a religious
character were found within, while upon the stone pavement a history of
the reign of Ashur-naṣir-pal was inscribed. The main entrance was
decorated and protected with winged human-headed lions 16-1/2 feet high
and 15 feet long, whose rôle of guardianship at the portals of the
king’s palace is thus exchanged for a yet higher and more exalted
position of trust, while the entrance into the side room was covered
with reliefs portraying the god in the act of expelling a malicious
demon. The side entrance was thirty feet to the right of the main
entrance, and the chamber into which it led was connected by two
corridors with the vestibule and the main hall. It was to the right of
this smaller entrance that the famous arch-topped monolith of
Ashur-naṣir-pal was discovered (cf. Pl. III). A short distance from the
building just described, and on the very edge of the artificial
platform, another temple was discovered. The entrance was guarded by two
colossal lions (cf. Pl. XXVI), 8 feet high and 13 feet long, and the
gateway which was about 8 feet wide was paved with one inscribed slab.
In front of the lions were two altars similar to the altar in the
Khorsabad relief reproduced in Fig. 14, C. The gateway led into a room
57 feet long and 25 feet broad, ending in a recess paved with an
enormous alabaster slab inscribed on both sides and measuring 19-1/2
feet by 12 feet. It was in this temple that the statue of
Ashur-naṣir-pal was discovered (cf. Pl. XXIV).

The resemblance which the staged towers of Mesopotamia bear to the
pyramids of Egypt naturally led to an interrogation as to whether they
resembled them also in regard to the use to which they were put.
Accordingly Layard endeavoured to answer the question, which had already
been categorically answered by Ctesias and Ovid, by making cuttings in a
ziggurat at Nimrûd with a view to ascertaining whether they contained
voids in which the bodies of kings or heroes might have at one time been
deposited, whether in fact the ziggurats were primarily tombs like the
pyramids of Miṣraim. The possibility of such being the case was proved
by the discovery of a vault, on a level with the platform itself,
measuring 100 feet in length, 6 feet in breadth and 12 feet in height,
though if this had actually been the last resting-place of a departed
king, it had been completely rifled. Of the ziggurat in question, but
one storey remained, protected by a massive facing of stone, and about
twenty feet high; the stones seem to have been laid together without any
mortar, as was so often the case in Assyrian masonry.

Another excellent example of an Assyrian temple is the Anu-Adad temple
at Ashur, recently excavated by the Deutsche Orient Gesellschaft. The
code of Khammurabi shows that this city was in existence at all events
as early as his time, and the German excavations have proved that it did
not lose its importance when the seat of government was removed thence
to Calah (Nimrûd) about 1300 B.C., but on the contrary continued to be a
royal city and maintained its importance till the seventh century B.C.,
and possibly later.

The temple of Anu-Adad was founded by Ashur-rêsh-ishi (_circ._ 1140
B.C.). It consisted of a rectangular terrace to which access was gained
by a doorway flanked by towers: beneath the terrace there were a number
of rooms. The two temple-towers were separated from each other by a long
passage, on each side of which were four small rooms surrounding a large
chamber in the middle, which may well have been the sanctuary. One of
these large chambers was dedicated to Anu, and the other to Adad. The
two temple-towers were according to Andrae four-staged ziggurats, and no
doubt upon the topmost storey there was a shrine, as in the temple of
Belus at Babylon. Many of the bricks composing the towers were inscribed
as was nearly always the case. Tiglath-Pileser I (1100 B.C.) the son and
successor of Ashur-rêsh-ishi had occasion to repair or rebuild this
temple, and he records that he raised its towers to heaven and made firm
its battlements with baked brick.[64] His account reads as follows:—

“In the beginning of my government Anu and Adad, the great gods, my
lords, who love my priestly dignity, demanded of me the restoration of
this their sacred dwelling. I made bricks, and I cleared the ground,
until I reached the artificial flat terrace upon which the old temple
had been built. I laid its foundation upon the solid rock and incased
the whole place with brick like a fireplace, overlaid on it a layer of
fifty bricks in depth, and built upon this the foundations of the Temple
of Anu and Adad of large square stones. I built it from foundation to
roof larger and grander than before, and erected also two great temple
towers, fitting ornaments of their great divinities. The splendid
temple, a brilliant and magnificent dwelling, the habitation of their
joys, the house for their delight, shining as bright as the stars on
heaven’s firmament and richly decorated with ornaments through the skill
of my artists, I planned, devised and thought out, built and completed.
I made its interior brilliant like the dome of the heavens; decorated
its walls, like the splendour of the rising stars, and made it grand
with resplendent brilliancy. I reared its temple towers to heaven and
completed its roof with burned brick; located therein the upper terrace
containing the chambers of their great divinities; and led into its
interior Anu and Adad, the great gods, and made them dwell in this their
lofty home, thus gladdening the heart of their great divinities. I also
cleared the site of the treasure-house of Adad, my lord, which the same
Shamshi-Adad, priest of Ashur, son of Ishme-Dagan, likewise priest of
Ashur, had built and which had fallen into decay and ruins, and rebuilt
it from foundation to roof with burned brick, making it more beautiful
and much firmer than before. I slaughtered clean animals therein as a
sacrifice to Adad, my lord.”

This same king, with the prescience characteristic of Assyrian monarchs,
prays that, in the event of the building falling into disrepair, a
future king may restore them, and he further begs that such king may
anoint his own inscribed tablets and his foundation-cylinders with oil.
His prayer was justified by after events, for in Shalmaneser II’s
(860-825 B.C.) time, the temple had already suffered from the effects of
time and climate, and that king consequently rebuilt it throughout.
Shalmaneser’s reconstruction was not so aspiring in its dimensions as
that of Ashur-rêsh-ishi, the original founder of the temple. He erected
two temple-towers (cf. Fig. 7) parallel to those of his predecessor,
differing however from those of Ashur-rêsh-ishi, according to Andrae, in
being panelled instead of plain, as was the case with the ziggurat (the
so-called “Observatory”) at Khorsabad and the ziggurat of Belus at
Babylon. But Shalmaneser was not the last king to whom was accorded the
privilege of repairing this ancient fane: Sargon (722-705 B.C.) the
successor of Shalmaneser IV, and the immediate predecessor of
Sennacherib, also found occasion to devote himself to this work of
piety, and in the courtyard of Shalmaneser II, the pavement-tiles
nearly all bear the name of Sargon, a permanent testimony to his sense
of religious obligation in this matter. The unique feature about this
temple is its double ownership.

[Illustration: FIG. 7. (After Andrae, _Der Anu-Adad Tempel, Tafel IX_.)]

Another temple recently excavated at Ashur by Koldewey and Andrae, is
the temple erected by Sin-shar-ishkun in honour of the god Nebo.
Sin-shar-ishkun was the last king of Assyria and reigned about 615 B.C.
This temple, which comprised a considerable number of rooms of various
shapes and sizes, was separated into two main divisions, both of which
consisted in a group of apartments leading into a main court, the two
courts being connected with each other. Access to the temple from
outside was gained through a door and vestibule leading into the
northern court, though possibly the southern court with which the latter
is connected at one time had a similar entrance.

The southern court measures over ninety feet in length and about
thirty-seven feet in breadth, and is surrounded by rooms on its
southern, eastern and northern sides, while on the northern side it is
connected with the northern court. But it is on the western side of this
southern court that the main temple rooms are located. Thanks to the
excellent state of preservation in which the brickwork foundation of the
walls was found, the excavators were able to determine the ground-plan
of two parallel series of rooms, to each of which access from the court
was gained by an entrance-gate provided with a tower; both the northern
and southern series of rooms contained first of all a broad room which
communicated with a long room, at the extreme end of which was a recess
for the statue of the god. The recess at the end of the long room in the
northern series is so well preserved that the general plan of its
reconstruction is quite certain. The limestone paved pedestal in the
recess was ascended by a small double flight of low steps, the steps
being similarly paved with limestone and numbering four. All these rooms
including the southern and western corridors and the southern court were
paved with brickwork, some of the bricks bearing the building
inscription of Sin-shar-ish-kun, and the bricks in both the southern and
the northern broad rooms were inscribed “temple of Nebo,” thereby
proving that this whole part of the building belonged to the temple of
that god, and that his temple was thus double in character.

Sin-shar-ishkun had evidently not been above utilizing the building
materials of his predecessors, for one of the door-sockets bears the
name of Ashur-naṣir-pal, while among other inscribed objects discovered
were fragments of hollow terra-cotta cylinders and prisms as well as
clay cones bearing an inscription of Sin-shar-ishkun. The ground-plan of
the southern division of this temple of Nebo corresponds in all
essential particulars to that of the normal Assyrian temple, of which
the outstanding characteristics—apart from the ziggurat—were the
broad-room, the hall with a recess for the god’s statue, a group of
surrounding rooms and a corridor.

The most famous temple at Ashur was that of the god Ashur himself, but
unfortunately it is badly preserved, and is consequently of less
archæological importance than the Anu-Adad temple or the temple of Nebo.
One point of interest about the ancient temple of Ashur, is that the
rooms appear to have been broad rather than long. In the oldest part of
the building, an alabaster block[65] bearing an inscription of
twenty-four lines written in archaic characters was discovered. The
characters somewhat resemble those found in Irishum’s inscriptions and
are similar to the characters used in early Babylonian inscriptions,
while like them, they read longitudinally and not laterally, but the
lines run from left to right instead of from right to left, and in this
they resemble a few inscriptions found at Tellô.[66] This alabaster
block is possibly the oldest Assyrian inscription as yet brought to
light. In the fore-court of this same temple, some fragments of a
diorite sculpture with small figures similar to those of the Khammurabi
period were found.

The best-preserved ziggurat in Mesopotamia is that which was discovered
at Khorsabad; four stages of this tower still remain, and the colours
with which they were painted are yet visible. It is in close proximity
to though not in immediate connection with the group of buildings
formerly regarded as the harem of the palace, but recently shown by
Koldewey[67] to be in reality a group of temples (cf. Fig. 24 B). The
argument upon which the harem-theory was based was the fact that this
block of buildings is separate from the palace, but this argument could
be used with even greater force in support of the temple theory, while
its proximity to the ziggurat, and the general correspondence in form
and shape of the several buildings which it comprises, to the normal
Assyrian temple as revealed by the excavations, makes Koldewey’s
contention a practical certainty. Furthermore, though the ziggurat, as
is the case at Borsippa, is not connected with the theoretical
“temple-complex,” there seems to be no doubt they belong to each other
as there is no room elsewhere in the neighbourhood for a temple proper,
and the adjacent parts of the palace were certainly used for secular and
not religious purposes. The block would appear to contain three temples
the entrance to each of which was through a central court; the temples
consisted in a broad-room or vestibule, a long-room or hall at the end
of which was another room—presumably the sanctuary where the statue of
the god was enshrined. The entrance to the sanctuary from the hall was
through a broad opening and up some stairs.

In addition to these salient parts of the building there were various
subordinate rooms, which in one temple flanked the right side, in
another the left, and in the third both sides of the main hall, these
rooms being connected in one case with the broad-room, the hall and the
sanctuary, in the second with the hall and sanctuary, and in the third
with the hall only. Sometimes they further have surrounding corridors;
it will be thus seen that though they show considerable variation among
themselves, they exhibit the same general type, a type totally different
from that to which the Assyrian palaces and houses conform, the general
shape of which was broad rather than long.

But in spite of the general similarity of Assyrian temples, the earlier
buildings differ from those of later date in at least one important
respect; in the former the sanctuary is simply a deep niche in the back
wall of the main long-room or hall, while in the later temples of
Sargon, the niche has been developed into a special sanctuary chamber.

It has been already demonstrated that the ziggurats in Mesopotamia did
not by any means all conform to the same plan; not only did the number
of their stages vary however, but occasionally their shape also. As a
rule they were square, or at all events rectangular, but the ziggurat
excavated at El Hibba by the Deutsche Orient Gesellschaft proved to be
an exception to this general rule. The tower in question is circular in
form, and comprises two stages; it is not built on an artificial mound,
but on the natural soil, and is still standing to the height of
twenty-four feet. The diameter of the first storey[68] is over four
hundred feet, while that of the upper storey is only a little over three
hundred feet. The last-named is protected with a casement-wall of burnt
bricks laid in bitumen, and the upper surfaces of both stories were
coated with the same material in order to protect them from the
disintegrating effects of the rain. The structure was drained by means
of canals made of burnt bricks, which served the further purpose of
strengthening the lower storey, and acted in fact as a buttress. A
number of clay cones or nails were found on the surface of the upper
storey, similar to those found at the foot of the Nippur ziggurat, but
none of them apparently bore any inscription.


Other buildings in Babylonia of a more secular character have been
preserved in a more satisfactory state than those specifically dedicated
to the gods, but the royal palaces themselves have for the most part
undergone such a course of reconstruction that it is very difficult to
determine the precise form which the original building assumed. Ur-Ninâ
has bequeathed to us the remains of an elaborate building which he
erected at his royal city Lagash, but it appears to be a storehouse
rather than an integral part of a palace; Ur-bau and Gudea some centuries
later have also left unmistakable signs of their building activity at
this famous city of the past. In the course of the excavation of a large
palace in one of the ruined mounds of Tellô, many bricks inscribed with
the name of Gudea were found, and this discovery not unnaturally led to
the hasty conclusion that this elaborate building so wonderfully
preserved, was actually the royal residence of this long deceased ruler,
but a closer investigation revealed the presence of other bricks bearing
the name of one, Hadadnadinakhe, in both Greek and Aramæan characters,
thereby proving conclusively that the building in question belonged to
the Parthian period and could not be assigned to a date earlier than the
latter half of the second century B.C. The bricks belonging to Gudea’s
early building had been re-used as material for this later structure, a
practice to which recourse was frequently had in Mesopotamia. Parts
however of Gudea’s early building were actually incorporated in the
Parthian palace, the best preserved of which are a gateway (cf. Pl. V)
and a portion of a tower, while underneath one corner of the palace,
part of a wall erected by Ur-bau, one of Gudea’s immediate predecessors,
was discovered.

Another palace of great fame was that of Nebuchadnezzar at Babylon,
known as the El-Ḳasr (cf. p. 69). This palace has been excavated by
Koldewey and Andrae. The outer wall was made of bricks stamped with the
name of Nebuchadnezzar, and was some 23-1/2 feet thick, the inner wall
also made of brick being over 44 feet thick, while the space between the
two walls, nearly 70 feet, was filled in with sand and other material,
the total thickness thus being nearly 136-1/2 feet. The burnt bricks of
which the retaining walls were composed were laid in asphalt and are so
compactly joined that it is impossible to separate them into their
layers. The Ḳasr mound, which represents a new suburb of the city of
Babylon itself, has revealed nothing earlier than the seventh century.
Ashur-bani-pal (668-626 B.C.) built a temple here which has been duly
excavated, but Nebuchadnezzar’s palace is the principal building which
has been discovered on this famous site. Before the time of
Nebuchadnezzar there had seemingly been a palace here, which had
undergone a course of reconstruction at the hands of Nabopolassar
(625-604 B.C.) the founder of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, but it
subsequently suffered grievously from an inundation of the Euphrates,
and was accordingly repaired and enlarged by Nebuchadnezzar who rebuilt
it with burnt brick; so enduring was his work that the lower portions of
it have remained in position till our own day.

The interior of the palace consisted in a great number of rooms arranged
around courtyards. The large hall, situated on the south of the main
court, had a niche in its southern wall and was further provided with
three doors in its northern wall, where traces were also to be found of
what may have been at one time a colonnade. The roof of the palace was
made of cedar-wood, as were also the doors, which latter were covered
with bronze, just as was the case with the famous gates at Balâwât (cf.
Fig. 43). The thresholds were made of the same metal, as also were the
steps in the temple E-zida at Borsippa, one of which has come down to us
and bears this king’s name, while gold, silver and precious stones of
various kinds were used with an unsparing prodigality in the decoration
of the royal residence.

Nebuchadnezzar further erected another building on the northern side of
the wall, which was apparently a fortress, and was connected with the
palace. According to the India House Inscription, and the statement of
Berosus the Babylonian historian (about 300 B.C.) whose history
unfortunately is lost, but from which extracts have been handed down to
us by Josephus, this building was completed in the incredibly short
period of fifteen days.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.—Restoration of “Sargon’s Palace” at Khorsabad.
(After Place.)]

Assyrian palaces are however in a better state of preservation than
those of Babylonia, and afford more material for the study of
Mesopotamian architecture. First and foremost of these must be mentioned
that built by Sargon (722-705 B.C.) at Khorsabad (cf. Fig. 8). The
palace in question was built upon an artificial mound, like most of the
important edifices in Babylonia and Assyria, these mounds serving a more
practical purpose in Southern Mesopotamia, as by their means the
buildings themselves were thus elevated beyond the reach of the waters
of the inundating Euphrates. The mounds, sometimes formed of a mass of
crude brick, sometimes of sand, gravel and other material, were kept
together and protected by a casement wall of either burnt brick or
stone. The revetment-walls at Khorsabad, which were formed of blocks of
stone weighing sometimes as much as twenty-three tons and measuring 6 ×
6 × 9 feet, gradually become thinner towards the top. The inner face of
this stone wall in immediate contact with the crude brick mass, was left
rough, which added to the general coherency of the whole. The total
height of the wall at Khorsabad was some 60 feet, the foundations
measuring 9 feet, and the retaining wall 46 feet, a parapet of 5 feet
making up the total of 60 feet. When the roof was flat, it seems to have
generally been surmounted by a parapet the top of which was crenelated.
Nearly all the buildings portrayed on Assyrian bas-reliefs exhibit this
crenelation, which was apparently a peculiar characteristic of
Mesopotamian architecture, and indeed so popular did this style of
arrangement become in later times, that even the tops of altars and
stelæ were sometimes crenelated (cf. Fig. 14, C). Crenelated buildings
are however not found in Babylonia till the time of Gudea and the
dynasty of Ur (_circ._ 2450 B.C.). The foundation-mound upon which the
brick town-wall of Dûr-sharrukîn (Khorsabad) was built was similarly
faced with stone, the mound itself consisting of stones and rubble, but
inside the palace, stone was only used for lining the walls, for the
flooring of the more important rooms, and for the shafts, capitals and
bases of columns, and other architectural accessories, the main body of
the edifice being built entirely of brick. The outer walls of buildings
were as a rule fortified with “buttresses,” made of stronger and more
durable material than the walls themselves, while apparently the only
foundations were the artificial mounds upon which the buildings were
constructed. Unfortunately but little is known as to the internal
arrangements of the buildings, and we are in considerable doubt even
regarding the manner in which the various rooms were roofed.

The rooms in Sargon’s palace are nearly all rectangular in shape,
sometimes square, but generally very long in proportion to their
breadth. The walls of the rooms were phenomenally thick and vary from
twelve to twenty-eight feet. The roofs of these long chambers must have
either been vaulted, or else constructed of timber-beams, though the
former would have been the more serviceable in a climate characterized
by extreme heat on the one hand and extreme cold on the other, for the
thick vaulting would alike avert the scorching rays of the summer’s sun
and the penetrating cold of a rigorous winter, while the discovery of an
enormous quantity of broken bricks, débris and rubble, and the
corresponding absence of any trace of wood in the excavated rooms
supports the theory that the roofs were made of clay rather than of
wood; and lastly, the only wood easily procurable would seemingly have
been quite inadequate to support the strain of a superimposed flat roof
of mud. Victor Place furthermore actually discovered the remains of
vaults which had collapsed, while the extensive use of the arch both in
the city walls of Khorsabad as well as in the drainage of the palace
furnishes an additional argument and increases the probability of the
theory yet the more. The disappearance of any trace of wood in the
rooms themselves might have been explained by the frailty and
non-enduring character of that material, but near the doorways, which
obviously could not have been formed of clay, or stone, fragments of
wood as well as door panels are said to have been found, and without
doubt, had the ceilings of the rooms been made of wood also, similar
evidence of the fact would be forthcoming. Place further alludes to the
discovery of rollers made of limestone in some of the chambers: these
rollers may have been used to flatten and solidify the pisé-roofs after
a downpour of rain, and thereby been the means of preventing the
dissolution and general collapse of this integral part of the structure.
But these clay roofs however unsatisfactory they may have been in days
gone by from the architectural standpoint, have proved of incalculable
value to the archæologist of to-day, for to the softness of the material
of which they were composed is due the perfect preservation of the
sculptures and statues which they were destined to entomb for so long a

As already mentioned, the partition-walls of the rooms exhibit the same
extraordinary solidity noticeable, alike in the outer walls of the
palace and in those of the city, the thinnest being some ten feet thick.
The massiveness of these partition walls bears out the theory that the
roofs were not formed of wooden beams but of clay vaulting, and is thus
an additional piece of evidence to that afforded by the absence of any
trace of wood in the chambers themselves on the one hand and the
discovery of fragments of wood in the doorways on the other; for the
only available explanation and general _raison d’être_ of such thick
interior walls is that vaulted roofs made of soft clay could only be
supported by walls of more than ordinary solidity. Doubtless the vaulted
roofing was also a determining factor in the shape and general contour
which the rooms assumed, and it is to the dearth of wood suitable for
building purposes, and the consequent use of clay for roofing as well as
for other parts of the structure that we are to ascribe the narrowness
of most of the chambers, which in truth resemble galleries more than
halls or rooms.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.—From an Assyrian Bas-relief. (After Layard, Ser.
2, Pl. 17.)]

It must not however be supposed that all the rooms in Sargon’s palace or
in the palaces of other Assyrian kings were one and all shaped like
passages, or that they were one and all roofed with barrel-shaped
vaults. Square rooms were discovered in the palace which we are
discussing, some of which were of no mean dimensions and measured
forty-eight feet each way; these clearly could not have been covered
with barrel vaulting, while the difficulty of procuring timber of
sufficient length would make itself felt more in the case of a large
square chamber, than in an elongated gallery. The problem therefore
resolves itself into an inquiry as to what other modes of roofing were
adopted by the Assyrians apart from roofs made of wooden beams which
were apparently only used in exceptional cases, and barrel vaults, which
would have been out of the question in these large square chambers. It
is here that the bas-reliefs adorning the walls of the royal palaces
come to our aid. On one of these reliefs from Kouyunjik (cf. Fig. 9) are
portrayed a number of buildings surmounted by domes of varying shapes
and sizes, which prove conclusively that the Assyrians of Sennacherib’s
time had evolved the art of constructing domed roofs, or perhaps we
should say borrowed the art from their mother-country, as the principle
of the domed roof seems to have been known in Babylonia in the
pre-Sargonic times, for the American excavations at Bismâya have
disclosed an oval-shaped room of the Sumerian period, provided with a
domed roof of which the larger portions still remained, and without
doubt the square chambers in Sargon’s palace at Khorsabad as well as
those in the palaces of other Assyrian kings were roofed in this way.
The buildings on the right (cf. Fig. 9) have flat roofs, while those on
the left have either hemispherical cupolas, or conical-shaped domes;
most of the doors are rectangular in shape, two of them however are
arched like the famous gates at Khorsabad. These rounded roofs are to be
seen all over the East even at the present day, so persistent is the
influence of custom and habit when both are but the offspring of the
natural environment of climate and owe their very origin to the great
mother of invention.


Of the arrangement of private houses in Babylonia we know comparatively
little. Taylor excavated a small house of uncertain date at Muḳeyyer,
and a plan of some chambers at Abû Shahrein was also made out. The house
at Muḳeyyer was erected on an artificial mound of crude brick upon which
a pavement of burnt brick was laid, the house itself being built of the
same material. The walls were very irregular, but the general plan of
the building seems to have been cruciform. The outer layer of bricks was
apparently set in bitumen, mud-mortar being used for the remainder,
while the floor which was made of burnt brick like the walls, was laid
in bitumen. In regard to the doorways, two of them consisted in arched
vaults, the arch being semicircular and made of wedge-shaped bricks, and
the charred remains of wooden rafters or beams were found within. The
outside of the house was decorated with perpendicular grooves, or
“stepped recesses,”[69] and many of the bricks were coated with enamel
or gypsum, and were inscribed.

The external decoration of a building at Warka (Erech) excavated by
Loftus consisted on the other hand of series of coloured clay cones[70]
embedded in mud or plaster and arranged in various patterns, with their
circular bases outwards. The patterns were mostly triangular, striped,
diamond-shaped, or zigzags, and the wall of which they formed a part
measured thirty feet in length. The flat part of this wall projected one
foot nine inches beyond the semicircular half columns which occurred at
intervals as in the Wuswas façade.

The rooms excavated at Abû Shahrein were built of crude brick, the walls
being covered with a plaster on the inside and painted. In one of these
chambers the walls were decorated with white, black, and red bands,
about three inches broad, while in another there was a crude red picture
of a man holding a bird on his wrist, and a smaller figure standing
close by.

The buildings uncovered by the German excavations at Fâra appear to be
chiefly characterized by the feebleness of the walls and the elaboration
of the drainage system. The general plan of these brick buildings
consisted in a central court surrounded by chambers of very small
dimensions. Private houses, like palaces, were often occupied over and
over again: thus at Nippur some of the houses excavated by Haynes had
been occupied at least three times over, while in one of them three
distinctly different doorways were visible, the lowest and therefore the
earliest being roofed by a segmental arch. But other buildings of quite
a different shape and character were found both at Surghul and Fâra;
these buildings are not rectangular but circular in form, and measure
from six and a half to sixteen feet across. These rotundas, which are
particularly numerous at Fâra, were surmounted by arched vaults, and one
of them was found to contain four skulls. For what these circular
structures were used it is difficult to say. We know something about the
ordinary houses of later times from the classical writers: Herodotus
for example informs us that the houses were generally lofty, having
three or even four stories (Herod. I, 180), while Strabo tells us that
the roofs of the houses were vaulted. The latter writer informs us that
the pillars of the house—when such existed—consisted in the trunks of
palm trees, around which wisps of rushes were entwined, the whole being
thus coated with some kind of plaster and then painted (Strab. XVI, I,

Of the private houses in Assyria we are little better informed than of
those in Babylonia. The German excavations at Ḳalat Sherḳat (Ashur) have
however thrown some light on the subject. The foundation-walls of the
houses discovered on this site showed that they conformed in general
plan to that of the old Babylonian house as illustrated at Fâra. The
foundations themselves present some novel varieties to the student of
Mesopotamian architecture; the foundation-walls referred to were sunk
down through the amassed débris with which the plateau had been covered,
to the rock bottom; and these walls were covered with a layer of stones,
upon which the actual walls of the building were superimposed. One of
the houses in question measured roughly 86 × 61 feet, and is rectangular
in shape. As at Fâra the rooms surround a central court. On the south
side of the building two narrow corridors run east and west, and are
traceable in the foundations, access to the court being gained only by
passing through the outer corridor and turning two corners.

In the débris beneath this house were found various graves of the
capsule type.[71]

[Illustration: FIG. 10. (After Hilprecht.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 11. (After Taylor.)]

The drains of the early Babylonians were either made of bricks, or else
of baked clay rings. Of the larger type of drain or water conduit
generally used to drain the upper stages of ziggurats, we have a good
example in Pl. XI. Similar drains were discovered by Loftus at Erech,
though he mistook them for supporting buttresses,[72] to which they bear
a striking resemblance. In the temple court at Nippur numerous drains of
the second class were discovered. These were constructed of terra-cotta
rings set one on the top of the other, and sometimes provided with a
bell-shaped top, while occasionally it was surmounted by a terra-cotta
floor,[73] as in Fig. 10. The average diameter of the rings composing
this drain was two feet and three-quarters, and it descended some six
and a half feet. At Bismâya a drain consisting of round tiles about
eight inches in diameter was discovered, while similar drains made of
terra-cotta rings superimposed one on the top of the other were
discovered by Taylor at Muḳeyyer (Ur). Frequently these shafts were
double as in the illustration (Fig. 11). The rings composing this drain
were two feet in diameter and about a foot and a half broad, and in some
instances they were cemented together by means of a thin layer of
bitumen. “For about a foot right round these drain-pipes and throughout
their whole length, were pieces of broken pottery, the more effectually
to drain the mound.”[74] Over the mouth of the top ring, which is of a
different shape to the others, were layers of perforated bricks leading
up to the top of the mound. Sometimes these drains consist of as many as
forty of these rings. Numerous drains made of both bricks and tiles were
discovered at Bismâya, while the drainage system at Fâra and other early
Babylonian sites seems to have been very extensive.

The main drains in Babylonia and Assyria frequently assumed the form of
vaulted aqueducts. Concerning the drainage of the inner rooms, the
palace of Sargon at Khorsabad is our best source of information. Nearly
all of the rooms were drained by a hole cut in a stone in the centre of
the floor towards which the brick floor gradually sloped; the water
passed through the hole into a circular brick conduit, which descended
into a horizontal drain connected with the main vaulted drain to which
reference will be made later on (cf. p. 174).

Windows, which to our idea form one of the most important parts of a
building, were apparently taken into little account by the Babylonians
and Assyrians. In the case of one-storied buildings the only windows
seem to have been skylights. At all events Place discovered terra-cotta
cylinders in several of the rooms at Khorsabad, which according to him,
must have formed a part of the roof through which air and a modicum of
light was admitted into the chamber. The buildings represented on the
bas-reliefs are indeed provided with small openings, but these appear to
be embrasures rather than windows properly so-called. But in any case,
even if windows were cut in the walls, the extreme thickness of the
latter would have excluded nearly all light.


The column never seems to have occupied a prominent position in the
history of Mesopotamian architecture, a fact which was again due to the
dearth of stone and wood; there is however sufficient evidence to prove
that it was certainly not unknown, though it was not very frequently
employed. In modern architecture the column forms the main support of
arches, but in Babylonian and Assyrian architecture the archivolts and
pendentives of the arch are generally supported by thick walls; this
fact is testified to alike by the remains of ancient buildings and also
by the figured representations of such buildings found on the

Probably the best examples of an early Babylonian column are those
discovered by De Sarzec at Tellô in 1881, though strictly speaking they
are not columns, but piers formed by the union of four circular columns
(cf. Fig. 12). The piers are composed of circular, semicircular, or
triangular bricks, which bear an inscription, from which we gather that
the new construction of which they presumably formed a part was largely
made of cedar-wood, a statement confirmed by the discovery of fragments
of this wood amid the ruins.

[Illustration: FIG. 12. (Cf. _Déc. en Chald._, Pl 53, 2.)]

Evidence of the very early use of the column on the same site was
forthcoming in the discovery of a series of eight brick bases, situated
some thirteen feet from the ancient building of Ur-Ninâ, the charred
remains of pillars of cedar-wood by which these bases were once
surmounted being still visible. Probably the most familiar example of
the use of the column in Babylonia, afforded by the excavations, is that
of the Court of columns at Nippur (cf. Pl. X). This court is over
forty-eight feet square; its floor consists of a thick pavement made of
unburnt bricks, and is over six feet in depth; around three of the sides
of this square, Peters tells us, ran a kind of edging formed by a double
row of burnt bricks, out of which arose four brick columns, round in
shape, but resting on square brick pillars which descended some three
feet or so below the surface; the fourth side was without doubt
similarly occupied with columns, but nearly every trace of even the
foundations of them has been washed away owing to the slope of the hill.
On the other sides of the platform the columns remain standing to a
height of about three feet; they appear to have tapered upwards, the
diameter at the base being just over three feet. They were built of
bricks especially made for the purpose: these bricks, in shape, are
segments of circles, the apexes of which are truncated, and the hollow
thus left in the centre of the circle compounded of these deformed
segments was filled in with fragments of bricks. The segmentary bricks
are well baked though somewhat brittle, and they were laid in mortar.
According to Peters, these columns were carefully dressed with a sharp
instrument, to remove any irregular projections there might be owing to
the malformation of any of the component bricks. The columns are
moreover not arranged with mathematical accuracy, being only roughly
equidistant from one another. The corner-columns differ from the others
in being half-round and half-square. Peters dates this colonnade in the
second millennium and assigns it to the Cassite period. Hilprecht
however believes it to be a product of the Parthian times, and dates it
about 300 B.C.

But yet other columns were found at Nippur, some rectangular and oblong
in shape, others assuming an oval form, both kinds however being made of
brick like the columns in the court. In one room in a building close to
the court, two columns were found built into the wall, and two more
round columns on square bases, the latter being composed of four courses
of bricks, and resting on a foundation of mud-brick. The circumference
of these round columns is over twelve feet. On the south-east of the
court the remains of another pair of round columns of gigantic size were
discovered; the base of one of these was found still in its original
position, while the remains of the shafts lay strewn about
promiscuously. The diameter of these columns at the base must have been
between six and seven feet, that is to say more than double the size of
the columns in the court itself.

Tellô and Nippur are however not the only sites which have yielded
evidence of the use of the column in the Babylonia of antiquity. Loftus
in his excavations at the Wuswas mound at Warka (Erech) came across the
remains of seven half-columns repeated seven times,[75] and used for the
decoration of a façade; these half-columns were made of semicircular
bricks. There is no trace of capital, base, cornice or any of the
features which columns generally exhibit, they therefore occupy an early
place in the development of columnar architecture, and Loftus assigns
the building in which they were discovered to the second millennium
B.C.,—not later than 1500 B.C. The excavations at Abû Adham, a mound
situated near Tellô, revealed a building with brick columns exactly like
those found by Peters at Nippur, while at Abû Shahrein (Eridu) Taylor
discovered the remains of a column[76] consisting, in contradistinction
to those mentioned above, of “slabs of sandstone twenty inches square
and four inches thick, which disposed in a circular form, and joined
together by lime, formed the chief material; between each layer were
cylindrical pieces of marble, and the whole had a thick coating of lime;
successive layers of which, mixed with small stone and pebbles, were
laid on till it had attained the desired size and thickness. Its base
was shaped like a bowl, and rested upon a layer of sun-dried bricks,
under which again was fine sand.” No doubt the column was used in
Babylonia more frequently than might be inferred from the paucity of the
cases in which the excavations have actually produced tangible evidence
of its employment, and the fact that Nebuchadnezzar represented columns
with great voluted capitals on coloured tiles in the Ḳasr shows that
they must have been a comparatively familiar architectural feature in
his day, in spite of the fact that, as Koldewey points out, their
pictorial representation on coloured tiles was probably an artistic
substitute for the real things, for which there was apparently neither
place nor use, as in every place where one might expect them, simple
doors are found; two column-shafts consisting in palm-trunks, sunk into
the ground and surrounded at the foot, by a circular brick walling
strengthened with asphalt and lime, were however actually found in one
of the courts, but Koldewey assigns the restored building of which they
form a part to the Persian period. In the Amran[77] mound at Babylon
Koldewey discovered the truncated remains of twenty-two brick columns,
which evidently formed part of a columned building, but the date of this
building seems to be uncertain.

It is here however that the bas-reliefs come to our aid; in Pl. XIV we
have a reproduction of the famous Sun-god Tablet which was made by
Nabû-aplu-iddina, king of Babylonia in the first half of the ninth
century B.C., in which there is a shrine, the roof of which is supported
by a column in the form of a palm-trunk which was probably overlaid with
plates of metal, for plain unadorned wood would hardly be suitable for
the shrine of Shamash, and moreover the capital and base, both of which
are much the same, could only have assumed this form in metal, the one
material that would easily adapt itself to such motifs. Similarly the
curved back wall and roof were probably made of metal, for wood of the
kind procurable in Babylonia would not readily bend in this manner. But
this notwithstanding, the column always appears to have occupied a
subordinate position in Babylonian architecture.

Such also appears to have been the case in Assyria: there too the
excavations have done little in the way of recovering the actual columns
used by the Assyrian monarchs, and for our knowledge of the general form
and appearance of Assyrian columns we are in the main dependent on the
information afforded us by the wall bas-reliefs. Another source of great
fruitfulness would be the series of ivories found in the north-west
palace of Nimrûd (Calah), but as these are the work of either Egyptian
or Phœnician artists, the columns therein represented can hardly be
regarded as illustrations of Assyrian columns.

[Illustration: FIG. 13, _a._—Capital of large Column. (Place, _Nineve_,
Pl. 35.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 13, _b._—Capital of small Column. (Brit. Mus.)]

Of remains of actual columns, the best-preserved is probably that
discovered by Victor Place at Khorsabad; it comprises the capital and a
portion of the shaft (cf. Fig. 13, _a_) both in one piece; it is made of
limestone, and the surviving fragment is some forty inches high. The
decoration of the capital proper is a variety of the volute, a device
which probably originated in a more or less accurate imitation of the
horns of the goat, and which is a characteristic feature of Babylonian
and Assyrian decoration.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.—A, cf. Layard _Discoveries_, p. 590.

B, cf. Layard, _Mon, Ser._ I, Pl. 95.

C, cf. Botta, _Ruines de Ninive_, II, p. 114.

D, E, Bas-reliefs from Kouyunjik.]

Sometimes columns represented on the bas-reliefs are actually surmounted
by goats (cf. Fig. 14, G) but more often, the horn-shaped volutes (cf.
Fig. 14, F) are the only artistic elements borrowed by the Assyrians
from the animal world, in the formation of their column capitals. A
variety of the same design is seen on the four circular limestone
pedestals discovered by Layard at Nineveh[78] (cf. Fig. 14, A) which
doubtless at one time supported wooden pillars; the diameter of these
bases varied from eleven and a half inches in the narrowest to two feet
seven inches in the broadest part.

Sometimes the backs of lions (cf. Fig. 14, E), sphinxes or other
composite monsters formed the bases of columns, and two such bases in
the form of winged sphinxes were found by Layard in the south-west
palace at Nimrûd, but they were in such a state of decay that they
crumbled soon after excavation, though not before Layard was able to
take a sketch of one of them (cf. Fig. 14, B).

An interesting example of a capital of a column is the small stone
capital preserved in the British Museum (cf. Fig. 13, _b_). It probably
formed the upper part of one of the diminutive columns adorning a
balustrade, and doubtless when complete was a more or less faithful
miniature replica of the full-sized capital discovered by Place (Fig.
13, _a_).

Until recently, owing to the fact that the columns portrayed on Assyrian
bas-reliefs, and also the scant remains of actual columns which had been
recovered, yielded no examples of shafts other than round,[79] or
possibly square (cf. Fig. 14, C) it was thought that polygonal-shafted
columns were unknown, but the German excavations at Ashur have brought
to light a capital of a column made of black basalt,[80] together with
a portion of the shaft which is sixteen-sided, and probably belongs to
about the time of Tiglath-Pileser I (1100 B.C.).

This column at one time bore an inscription, but unfortunately it is
worn away. The remains of another polygonal-shaped basalt column[81] was
discovered on the same site. It is eight-sided, and bears an inscription
of Shamhsi-Adad, the son of Tiglath-Pileser I.

Two interesting column-bases made of limestone were also discovered at
Ashur,[82] under the brick-pavement of a late Assyrian dwelling-house.
One of these consists in a plinth, a torus and a thin over-plate, all
made in one piece, while in the other case a part of the shaft is
preserved with the torus.

Judging from the bas-reliefs the corner columns of a building were
generally more massive than those which were intermediate (cf. Fig. 14,
C, D), a circumstance which added not only to the stability of the
building itself, but also to the elegance of its appearance. But in both
Babylonia and Assyria the column was used more often as an adornment to
the façades of buildings than as an actual support for the structure
itself. As we have so little positive evidence of the use of stone
columns in Mesopotamia, it seems probable that as a rule columns were
made of wood or bricks, the disappearance of almost all trace of which
would be adequately accounted for by the natural destructibility of such
materials, though the disappearance of stone columns, for such were
clearly used, at all events sometimes, might be readily explained on the
supposition that they had been subsequently used as rollers or for some
other purpose.


It has been truly said that the arch was first invented by people whose
building materials were of a small size, and however open to objection
this generalization may be, it is certainly true in the case of
Babylonian architecture, and also in a somewhat lesser degree in that of
the later Assyrian architecture. Strabo informs us that “all the houses
in Babylonia were vaulted”—διὰ τήν ἀξυλιαν—“because the dearth of wood,”
XVI, 1, 5—but however reliable or unreliable his statement may be, the
dearth of wood and stone in the alluvial plain of Lower Mesopotamia of
necessity taxed the inventive powers of the Babylonian architect to the
utmost, when he was confronted with the problem of roofing the buildings
he had erected, and the various rooms which they were destined to
contain. But his genius seems to have arisen to the occasion, and
evolved the principle of the arch as the best, and indeed the only means
of coping with an otherwise insurmountable difficulty, for the
construction of flat roofs depended on the existence of slabs of stones
or timber-beams, alike large in size and durable, but both stone and
wood of the kind wanted were not to be found in Babylonia, and the
architect would clearly be unable to fetch wood or stone from the
distant mountains for the purpose of roofing the chambers of an ordinary
house. His inventive faculties were thus stimulated by the urgency of
the case, and the result produced by these combined factors is to be
seen in the early appearance of the arch, crude indeed as regards its
structure, but none the less involving the same principles upon which
all arches are built.

The early arches in the tomb-passages in Egypt are supposed to owe their
origin to the removal of the lower part of the buttress-walls erected to
keep the side walls of the passages from collapsing: such buttress-walls
would of course fulfil their function in preventing the side walls from
falling in, but they would frustrate their own ends by completely
blocking the passage, thus rendering it perfectly useless. Accordingly
the lower portion of the buttress-wall was removed, the upper part being
allowed to remain, and forming in fact a rudimentary arch, and it is
possible that the Babylonian arch owes its origin to like fortuitous
circumstances. It is perhaps more probable, however, that the origin of
the arch-shaped structure, if not the discovery of the principle of the
arch, is to be traced to the peculiar form assumed by the native
reed-huts, which doubtless bore a close resemblance to those commonly
used in the Euphrates valley to-day. This view is advocated by Heuzey,
and is the one which Hilprecht is disposed to favour.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.—Early T-shaped Arch at Nippur. (Cf. Hilprecht,
_Explorations_, p. 399.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 16.—Arch at Tellô. (Cf. _Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 57
(bis), 1.)]

Most of the ancient buildings of Babylonia have succumbed to the
concurrent ravages of time and climate, and have consequently bequeathed
to us very little material for the study of Babylonian architecture; the
roofs of buildings, and of the chambers comprised therein, have long
since ceased to be, and we can thus only theorize as to the general mode
of roofing adopted, but the drains and aqueducts constructed beneath the
buildings have luckily survived to tell their tale, and we owe our
knowledge of the early existence of the arch in Babylonia chiefly to
these comparatively insignificant remains.

One of the most ancient arches as yet discovered is that which was
brought to light during the course of the excavations carried on by
Peters, Harper, Haynes and Hilprecht at the ancient city of Nippur (cf.
Fig. 15). It was found at a great depth below the surface of the mound,
being more than twenty-two and a half feet below the pavement of
Ur-Engur (_circ._ 2400 B.C.), and fourteen feet below that of Narâm-Sin
(_circ._ 2700 B.C.); it is a true keystone arch pointed in shape, made
of well-burnt plano-convex bricks, and measuring a little over two feet
in height and having a span of about one foot eight inches, while its
length is about three feet, but it seems probable that originally the
tunnel was vaulted throughout. The irregularity of its construction
somewhat diminishes the significance that it would otherwise have, but
it is of supreme interest as testifying to the fact that the principle
of the arch was known at this very remote period, however crude the
embodiment of that principle may happen to be. The plano-convex bricks
composing this arch measure 12 × 6 × 2-1/2 inches and bear the impress
of finger-marks on their convex side, a characteristic feature of
pre-Sargonic bricks at Nippur, Tellô and elsewhere, while the clay from
which the bricks are made is of a light yellow colour. The tunnel itself
seems to have been “a protecting structure for a drain,”[83] rather than
a drain itself, for below the pavement two terra-cotta pipes were
discovered, the existence of which can only be explained on this
hypothesis. At the top of the arch were found the remains of another
terra-cotta pipe, the object of which must have been to drain off the
percolating rain-water, and thus prevent it penetrating through and
disintegrating the vaulted structure below. The T-shaped centre-piece,
which was similarly made of plano-convex bricks, doubtless served the
purpose of keeping the sides of the arch from falling in. Haynes further
informs us that in one of the private houses at Nippur which had been
occupied at least three times, the earliest of the three doorways
traceable in the ruins, consisted in a segmental arch.

Another very early arch was discovered by M. De Sarzec at Tellô, close
to the building of Ur-Ninâ (cf. Fig. 16), having much the same shape as
the Nippur arch illustrated in Fig. 15 and doubtless used for a similar
purpose, while vaulted passages of which the arch was semicircular, were
discovered by Taylor[84] in his excavations at Muḳeyyer (Ur), as early
as 1855.

Again the German excavations at Fâra (Shuruppak) in 1902 and 1903
revealed a number of circular rooms, each of which was roofed by means
of an arch formed by overlapping bricks placed horizontally, somewhat
after the fashion of the later corbelled arch at Nippur seen in Fig.
17, to which Hilprecht assigns a provisional date of 2500 B.C. We know
that the dome was invented in Babylonia at a very early date, thanks to
Dr. Banks’ discovery at Bismâya of an oval-shaped room in the vicinity
of the temple, the lower parts of the domed roof of which were found
still in place. Its antiquity is attested by the date of the temple
itself which would appear to have belonged to the pre-Sargonic period,
as the ziggurat was faced with the plano-convex bricks characteristic of
that period, and the pottery furnace, not far distant, was composed of
bricks of the same kind.

In later times the arch was doubtless used more frequently in Babylonia.
A good example of a late Babylonian arch was discovered by the German
excavators on the Ḳasr at Babylon; the arch in question (cf. Fig. 18)
which is Roman in character, forms the roofing of a lofty gate cut in
the fortification wall. Koldewey[85] is of opinion that the wall in
which this arched gate occurs, is a good deal older than the
Nebuchadnezzar period.

But Assyria, the more or less faithful imitator of Babylonia in all
matters great or small, is also known to have employed the arch as an
architectural device, though, as in Babylonia, most of the Assyrian
arches which the excavations have brought to light are connected with
the drainage system with which all the principal buildings were
provided. The best examples of an Assyrian arch of ordinary dimensions
are those found at Khorsabad, the gateways of which town were roofed
with semicircular vaults. One of these gateways was pulled down by Place
in order to make a close examination of its construction. The height
from the pavement to the top of the arch was found to be twenty-four and
a half feet, the width being a little over fourteen feet. The arch was
made of crude bricks, all of which were of the same size, and had the
same shape, the bricks being cemented together with soft clay. The vault
itself had long since become disintegrated, but the materials of which
it was made were discovered in the ruins. Of the brilliantly painted
friezes which adorned these rounded openings (cf. Pl. XXX), something
will be said in the chapter on Painting.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.—Corbelled Arch at Nippur. (Cf. Hilprecht,
_Explorations_, p. 420.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.—Arch at Babylon. (Cf. _Mitteil._, 8, _Abb._ 1.)]

But in regard to the study of what may be called the arch-principle, the
subterranean channels which formed part of the system of drainage
employed by the Assyrians are of greater importance. These aqueducts are
found in all the palaces, both at Nimrûd and Kouyunjik, but Khorsabad
furnished the best preserved examples, and therefore afforded the most
valuable material for the careful examination of this architectural
contrivance. At Khorsabad, Place discovered several arched drains of
different shapes, some of them being round, others elliptical, while
others again were pointed, but apparently in every case the stones or
bricks were set at an angle, so that each course had the support of the
course preceding it, and thus the pressure on the centre of the arch was
reduced to the minimum. In the case of the pointed arched aqueducts
found by Place, the arches in question are no true keystone arches,
indeed they have no keystones of any kind as will be seen in Figs. 19,
20; this arched drain measures four feet eight inches from the ground to
the centre of the vault, its width is about three feet nine inches,
while its original length is unfortunately not known, though Place
succeeded in tracing it for some two hundred and twenty feet. The floor
was made of large slabs of limestone set in asphalt, while the ends of
the stone-slabs extended beyond the walls of the vault on either side.
The rounded type of arch is seen in Fig. 21; it is semicircular in shape
and is formed of three voussoirs on each side, which together with the
key, thus make seven in all, but owing to some miscalculation, the
keystone appears to have been too small, in consequence of which there
was a gap between it and the top voussoir on the right, which was filled
in by means of a stone wedge which can be seen in the figure. Its width
and height vary at different points, in some places it is said to be
wide enough for two men to walk abreast in it.[86] The floor was
composed of slabs of limestone which were laid in asphalt just like the
floor of the pointed arch described above. An elliptical-shaped arch,
also found at Khorsabad, is illustrated in Fig. 22: it is formed of
eight voussoirs and a keystone, the gap on either side of which is
filled in by means of two stone wedges. The failure to make the
keystones sufficiently large, and the consequent necessity for these
supplementary wedges may be due to the architects not having allowed for
the shrinkage of the bricks.

[Illustration: FIG. 19. (Place, _Nineveh_, Pl. 38.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 20. (Place, _Nineveh_, Pl. 38.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 21. (Place, _Nineveh_, Pl. 39.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 22. (Place, _Nineveh_, Pl. 39.)]

In regard to the arched structures at Nimrûd (Calah) Layard says he
found a vaulted room and more than one arch. He tells us that “the arch
was constructed upon the well-known principle of vaulted roofs, the
bricks being placed sideways, one against the other, and having been
probably sustained by a framework until the vault was completed.”
Knowledge of the principle of dome-shaped roofs in Assyria as well as in
the mother-country, is evidenced both by the discovery of rooms whose
dimensions would have rendered any other mode of roofing impossible, and
also by the representations on Assyrian bas-reliefs, as we have already

[Illustration: FIG. 23. (After Andrae.) FIG. 24. (After Taylor.)]

The arch-principle is further embodied in some of the Babylonian and
Assyrian graves, and as there is no other opportunity of discussing the
burial-places of the Babylonians and Assyrians in this volume, it may be
permissible to give here a brief and general description of one or two
of the best preserved of these burial-vaults. At Muḳeyyer (Ur) Taylor
found a number of arched vaults (cf. Fig. 24) which in most cases
measured about 5 feet in height, and 3 feet 7 inches in breadth, while
they were about 7 feet long at the bottom and 5 feet long at the top.
The arch is formed by successive layers of overlapping bricks. It is
interesting to compare the burial vaults discovered by Andrae at Ḳalat
Sherḳat (Ashur), one of the best preserved of which is seen in Fig.
23.[88] This vault was discovered about 16 feet below the level of the
floor of a Parthian door in the neighbourhood, and over 13 feet below a
later Assyrian pavement. At the time of its construction the vault would
appear to have been about 9 feet beneath the surface of the soil.

The perpendicular walls forming the sides of the lower part of the tomb
are set upon a brick pavement, the bricks being about 10-1/2 inches
square and nearly 2-1/2 inches thick. The height of these perpendicular
walls is approximately 30-1/2 inches and the layers of bricks which each
contains number 13. The vault itself, which of course commences where
the perpendicular walls cease, is more or less oval in shape, has a span
of 5 feet 2 inches, and is 2 feet 11 inches high, the total height of
the tomb from the floor to the top of the arch thus being nearly 5-1/2
feet. The arch, upon the construction of which much care had evidently
been bestowed, was formed of forty-six courses of quasi-wedge-shaped
bricks, each resembling a truncated segment of a circle. The interstices
between the courses were filled in with stones, broken pieces of clay
and clay mortar. The outside of the vault was coated with clay, but the
inside was left plain. The walls at either end incline inwards, while
they are built separately from the arch and are also rather higher.
Access to the tomb from outside is gained by a slanting and somewhat
winding entrance-shaft built close to the western wall, in which there
is a small arched opening. The threshold of this opening, which was
filled in with loosely laid bricks, lies 23-1/2 inches above the floor
of the tomb. In the eastern wall the usual recess was found, the floor
of which was some 35 inches above the floor of the burial chamber. This
recess was about 19 inches in height and 13 inches in breadth, while the
depth of the recess was greater than that of the wall, and it was
therefore necessary to build another wall on the outside to close it up.
In the recess of another double grave found by Andrae on the same site,
a clay lamp was found, but this was not the case here; possibly there
was at one time a lamp in the recess of this tomb, its disappearance
being due to the disintegration to which the long infiltration of damp
subjects all articles of unburnt clay. The entrance-shaft was 39 inches
square, while its bottom was level with the threshold of the small
opening in the western wall; 4 feet 2 inches above this floor was a
second floor made of gypsum blocks which were supported by the walls of
the shaft. The interstices between these blocks were filled in with
stones and pieces of clay, while the upper part of the shaft (i.e. the
part above these blocks), the walls of which had only half the thickness
of the walls below, was similarly filled in right up to the surface
level. The uppermost part of the shaft had been disturbed by a later
building. In the vault, Andrae found three skeletons, one of which
apparently belonged to a man, and the other two to women. The arms of
these skeletons were at right angles to the bodies, and the legs were
contracted and apart, while the man lies on his right side and the two
women on their left. Traces of a decayed whitish material were found in
the tomb, which Andrae believes to be the remains of grave-clothes.
Bone needles and pottery had also been deposited with the corpses. The
most interesting articles of pottery were three wide-necked bottles, two
of which were decorated with dark horizontal lines, while the neck of
the third was adorned with white painting on a dark ground, a technique
well known in early Assyrian times. What were the contents of the
vessels we do not know; rams’ bones were found near the door as well as
elsewhere, and without doubt these vessels once contained meat offerings
and drink offerings for the dead. There was evidence for at least three
different periods of occupation in the strata above the grave, two of
which belonged to the Assyrian era and one to the Parthian times.

The vaulted graves at Ashur do not however all belong to the same time;
some of them may be assigned to the early Assyrian period, while others
were built at a later date. One of these later brick burial-vaults was
excavated and carefully examined by Andrae in the spring of 1909.[89]
The construction of this vault apparently involved the demolishment of
an earlier Assyrian building. The bricks of which the vault was composed
in some cases bore the inscription of Tukulti-Ninib I, but in spite of
this fact, the grave itself was not built till a later date. Access to
the vault was gained by means of an entrance-shaft the lower end of
which was connected by means of a passage with the door of the
burial-chamber. A few inches above the ruined débris of the
entrance-shaft the remains of a Parthian building were discovered. The
passage was entirely destroyed, though the shape of the displaced bricks
led to the conclusion that it was roofed by a barrel-vault. The arched
door into the grave-room which measures nearly 4 feet in height and has
a span of about 22-1/2 inches is composed of very small bricks 6-1/2 ×
2-1/8 inches. It is built into one of the small walls of the grave-room,
and the threshold is made of bricks like its other parts.

The bricks composing the barrel-vaulted roof of the grave-room are
11-3/4 inches square and 2-3/8 inches thick. At the other end of the
burial-chamber is a small arched door leading into another room, also
barrel-vaulted. This latter room which measures nearly 5 feet in length,
and 35-1/2 inches in breadth, is built with less care and regularity
than the main burial-chamber. The side-walls of the annexed room are
5-1/8 inches thick, but the thickness of the back wall is only 2 inches.
The threshold of the entrance-door to the main burial-chamber is 20-3/4
inches lower than the pavement of the entrance-shaft, and nearly 19
inches above the floor of the burial-chamber. Asphalt and plaster were
both used extensively in the interior.

North-east of the entrance-door, there was a lamp-niche, 3 feet 11-1/4
inches above the floor, and measuring 12-1/2 × 13-3/4 inches in size,
and 12-1/2 inches in depth. In this niche, three terra-cotta pots were
discovered, and Andrae thinks that these pots were probably used as
lamps. The burial-chamber contained two bath-shaped sarcophagi, one of
which measured 6 feet 7-1/2 inches in length, 28 inches in breadth and
18-1/8 inches in height, while the other was just over 6 feet 6 inches
long, 31 inches wide, and 17 inches deep. The lids of both these
sarcophagi were slightly arched and were tightly cemented. The top end
of one of the covers bore the rough outline of two flowers.

[Illustration: Fig. 24 A.—Ziggurat on an Assyrian Bas-relief.]

[Illustration: Fig. 24 B.—Actual remains of Ziggurat at Khorsabad.
(After Place.)]

Upon the brick floor of the annex was the extended skeleton of a man,
while in one of the sarcophagi four skulls and three skeletons were
found. Two of the skeletons belonged to men, but the third and
best-preserved was that of a woman, while the skeleton to which the
fourth skull belonged was not found. The funeral furniture was of the
ordinary type and consisted chiefly in terra-cotta dishes and vases,
copper bangles and glass beads.


A chapter on Sculpture naturally divides itself into two parts, the one
dealing with those works which are wrought in the round, and the other
with those fashioned in relief, or by incision, upon a flat surface. It
was in the latter department that both the Babylonians and Assyrians
excelled, and their chefs-d’œuvres belong to the bas-relief order. It is
accordingly not unfitting that a consideration of their bas-reliefs
should precede a treatment of their works in the round.


The bas-relief was the favourite, and undoubtedly the most successful
expression of the artistic genius of both Babylonians and Assyrians from
the earliest to the latest times. Their first efforts in this direction
were crude indeed, but this is a fault incidental to the beginnings of
any art. One of the most ancient bas-reliefs yielded by Babylonian
excavations is reproduced in Fig. 25, A. We have here a representation
of a man apparently engaged in some act of worship, or in the
performance of some unknown ceremony. His large, almond-shaped eyes are
portrayed full face, his aquiline nose stands forth in an altogether
aggressive fashion, his long hair hangs down his back, while a fillet
surrounds his head, from which two long feathers emanate; these feathers
sometimes adorn the heads of Asiatic princes represented on early
Egyptian monuments. His otherwise nude bust is to some extent relieved
by the presence of a somewhat lengthy beard, and his clothing consists
in the characteristically Sumerian square shawl arranged skirt-wise.

[Illustration: FIG. 25.

A, Musée du Louvre. (Cf. Cat., p. 77, No. 1; _Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 1

B, C, Musée du Louvre. (Cf. Cat., pp. 87, 89, No. 5; _Déc. en Chald._,
Pl. 1 (bis, tert).)

D. (From Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 475.)

E, F. (From _Old Bab. Inscr._, II, Pl. XVI.)]

With his left hand he grasps one of the three sacred poles before which
he stands: the poles are surmounted by a knob, more or less identical in
shape with the early Babylonian mace-heads. The inscription, written in
very archaic line characters, which still preserve in part, traces of
their pictorial origin, contains a list of offerings and also a mention
of the god Nin-girsu and of his temple E-ninnû. This most ancient
sculpture was found by De Sarzec on the site of the earliest buildings
at Tellô. It is made of white limestone and is about seven inches in

Two of the fragments of another very archaic bas-relief found in the
same neighbourhood are seen in Figs. 25, B, C. In all the faces
portrayed in these two fragments we observe the same prominent nose, and
the same large, lozenge-shaped eyes already alluded to, but in other
respects they differ from the type illustrated in Fig. 25, A. The most
striking and probably the most consequential individual in the present
group occupies the left end of Fig. 25, B. His importance is evidenced
by the excessive length of his long hair, and by the hooked sceptre
which he carries on his shoulder, probably in token of his royal
attributes. In his left hand he holds what appears to be a fillet, which
he is presenting to the trusty warrior who stands before him, lance in
hand. On the other fragment (Fig. 25, C) we have two other types
represented, one characterized by the luxuriancy of his hair and the
profusion of his beard, the other being distinguished by the complete
absence of hair from both the head and face. In both cases they are clad
after the same fashion, their one and only garment consisting in a short
skirt, the lower portion of which is represented in a most archaic
fashion by a series of tongue-shaped strips, and the upper portions of
which are inscribed in archaic line characters, while their hands are
clasped across their breast in an attitude of submissive if not
subservient obedience. The why and the wherefore of the absence of hair
from the head and face of one of these figures is of course unknown, but
M. Heuzey suggests with some plausibility that the figure is thus
represented in virtue of his sacerdotal character. Both of these
fragments once formed part of a round socket which probably served to
support a votive stave or weapon; they are made of hard limestone, and
were found amid the débris of a building belonging to the time before

In Fig. 25, F, we have a reproduction of an early limestone votive
tablet from Nippur,[90] in the upper register of which a naked and
clean-shaven worshipper is offering a libation to a seated and bearded
god, the whole being represented in duplicate. Below, a goat and a sheep
are followed by two men, one of whom bears a vessel on his head and the
other holds a stick in his right hand, while both are clad in the
ordinary Sumerian skirt. Another interesting votive-tablet (cf. Fig. 25,
E) from Nippur shows us a similar scene—a naked worshipper standing
before a seated god is offering a libation, the god being reversed on
the left, but the unique interest attaching to this fragment is in the
ploughing-scene represented below; we see a man ploughing with a horned
animal, probably a gazelle or an antelope, which appears to indicate
that this archaic fragment dates from a period when neither the ox nor
the ass were used as beasts of labour, while a third[91] bas-relief (cf.
Fig. 25, D), also religious in character and emanating from the same
site shows a seated goddess accompanied by a bird, while a burning
altar, and a lighted candlestick stand before her. She holds a pointed
cup in her right hand and behind her we see a long-bearded priest
leading a clean-shaven worshipper who carries a goat in his right arm,
into the presence of the goddess.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.—Musée du Louvre. (Cat. pp. 81, 96; _Déc. en
Chald._, Pl. 1 tert, 2 bis.)]

The extraordinary popularity of what may be termed the bas-relief mode
of sculpture among the Sumerians is strikingly illustrated by its
employment in the decoration of mace-heads and other objects; in Fig.
26, B we have a large mace-head made of hard white limestone, seven and
a half inches in height, and having a diameter of little over six
inches. The scheme of decoration takes the form of a procession of
lions, six in number, all following in the same direction, and each
burying his teeth in the back of the lion going before. The bodies of
the lions are portrayed side-wise, but the colossal-eyed heads are seen
full face. These lions are, despite their crudeness, already
surprisingly true to life; the top of the mace-head (A) is not left
unadorned, but has been made good use of by the sculptor who has carved
the heraldic lion-headed eagle of Lagash upon its smooth surface. It
bears an inscription of Mesilim, king of Kish, who is known from another
inscription to have flourished and ruled over the country some time
before the foundation of the first dynasty of Lagash by Ur-Ninâ, in the
neighbourhood of whose building this mace-head was actually found, though
at a slightly lower level.

We now come to the time of Ur-Ninâ, the most interesting of whose
monuments, at least from the pictorial point of view, is the sculpture
reproduced in Fig. 26. This relief, which is divided into two registers,
introduces us to Ur-Ninâ, his family and his courtiers. The king himself
is of colossal size, indicative doubtless of his colossal power; in the
upper register he is portrayed standing, his left hand on his nude bust
as in the lower register, while with his right hand he is balancing a
basket, which, as M. Heuzey has pointed out, probably contains the clay
and foundation brick for the temple of Nin-girsu, rather than offerings
for the god. This view is further supported by the inscription written
alongside the figure of the basket carrier, the first line of which
contains a mention of the temple of Nin-girsu. Ur-Ninâ is thus
represented as the servant of his god, and the honour attaching to the
menial task in which he is engaged may be judged by the fact that he
alone is apparently accounted worthy, his sons and followers merely
standing by, their hands clasped in a reverential attitude. Below, the
king is seen in a more comfortable and homely pose, though here too he
would seem to be attending to his religious duties; he is raising his
cup either to drink to the honour of the gods, or else to offer a
libation, but in either case the task must have been less arduous and
possibly more pleasant than that which occupies him in the upper
register. With one exception all the heads and faces are devoid of
hair, and all are clad in the Sumerian short woollen skirt, though the
king’s skirt is more flounced than those of his courtiers, as becomes
royalty. The type of vesture met with here, as well as on the Vulture
Stele and on so many of the early Sumerian sculptures, was called
“Kaunakes.” The figure immediately in front of the standing king in the
upper register is distinguished from the others not only by being
taller, and wearing a skirt resembling the king’s garment, but also by
having long hair. Opinion differs as to whether we are to see in this
figure the daughter of the king, or whether, on the contrary, we have
here a portrait of the king’s eldest son, as both Heuzey and Radau
think, and in support of their view, the improbability of assigning such
a leading part to a woman at this period has been aptly urged; the dress
differs from that of Ur-Ninâ in being suspended over the left shoulder,
and in this respect recalls Eannatum’s mantle on the Vulture Stele (cf.
Pl. XII). The round or square hole in the centre of many of these early
plaques was without doubt destined to serve as a socket for some votive
stave or weapon, and the plaques pierced with such holes must
accordingly have been laid in a horizontal and not in a vertical
position. Ur-Ninâ was succeeded by Akurgal, who in turn gave place to
Eannatum, whose famous Stele of Victory we now come to consider.

_PLATE XII_ [Illustration: _Musée du Louvre: Déc. en Chald., Pl. 3, ii._


This monument was unfortunately not found intact and complete, but six
fragments, some small, others comparatively large, but all full of
interest, were unearthed at Tellô by M. de Sarzec. The scenes depicted
and the events portrayed on the surviving fragments of this renowned
stele, are instructive both from a religious as well as from a
historical point of view. In Pl. XII we have a reproduction of perhaps
the most interesting of these fragments. The scene here is divided into
two registers, in both of which the troops of Eannatum are seen engaged
on active service. The king leads the vanguard in person and on foot;
above his head the title “Conqueror for the god Nin-girsu” is inscribed.
His apparel consists in the “kaunakes” skirt, to which allusion has
already been made, while over it is a mantle suspended over the left
shoulder and passing under the right arm. His head is protected by a
helmet, pointed at the top like those of his warriors, but differing
from theirs in being furnished with ear-pieces; his long hair for the
most part hangs down his back, some of it however is gathered up and
bound by a fillet at the back of his head. In his right hand he holds
what purports to be a species of boomerang.

His troops are drawn up in a wedge-shaped formation, and if this
representation is intentional, it is a surprising testimony to the skill
in military tactics to which the Sumerians had attained at this
extremely early date, but it may on the other hand be merely due to
ignorance of perspective on the part of the artist. Their offensive
weapons consist of lances some six or eight feet in length, while for
defence they hold large rectangular shields which cover the whole of
their bodies from neck to ankle. Were there any doubt as to the fortunes
of this army of Eannatum, it would be immediately dispelled by a glance
at the feet of the troops engaged, who are ruthlessly trampling on the
prostrate bodies of their vanquished foes.

Below we have another battle-scene: the king again leads his troops to
action, but here he is mounted in his chariot, his dress is identical
with that worn by him in the upper half of this relief, and in his right
hand he grasps a boomerang similar to the one with which he is armed
above, but in his left hand he poises a long stave, the end of which is
unfortunately not visible owing to the poor preservation of this part of
the sculpture, but without doubt the point of this formidable weapon was
once in immediate contact with the shaven head of a conquered enemy,
while before him there is a quiver packed with arrows.

His followers in this instance are armed with a long lance and a
battle-axe, but are protected by no shields, though their heads are
covered with the same conical-shaped helmets, and they are clad in the
familiar “kaunakes” skirts. Perhaps we are to see in these troops a
detachment of the king’s personal bodyguard. What strikes one at once
about this sculpture is the extraordinary disparity between the
crudeness of the art on the one hand, and the elaborate equipment and
arrangement of Eannatum’s army on the other, from which it is clear that
the energy of the Sumerians at this time was spent in the battle-field
rather than in the pursuit of the peaceful arts.

[Illustration: FIG. 27.—Musée du Louvre.

A, B. (Cf. Cat., pp. 105, 107.)

C. (Cf. Cat., p. 123; _Déc. en Chald._, Plate 5, bis.)]

Another fragment of this remarkable sculpture is reproduced in Fig.
27, A. We have here a veritable heap of corpses piled on top of
each other. They are entirely naked, and their heads are shaven in
apparent contradistinction to the troops of Eannatum. The bodies are
extended and are arranged so that the head of each lies in contiguity
with the feet of his next door neighbour; two figures clad in short
archaically-fringed skirts are ascending this heap by means of a rope;
the free hand of each is engaged in balancing a basket on the head
which may contain offerings for the fallen, but more probably earth
wherewith to bury their corpses. It is a matter of dispute as to
whether these superimposed corpses represent the fallen warriors of
Eannatum’s army, or the smitten foes of Lagash; but the fact that the
bodies are naked, and the further fact that in none of the Babylonian
or Assyrian battle-scenes is there a single example of a warrior
of the victor’s army being represented as killed, and lastly the
improbability of the artist having accentuated the losses of Eannatum
in such a conspicuous manner, and especially upon a stele of victory,
all militate against the former and for the latter view. In that case
we have a striking testimony to the clemency exhibited by the Sumerians
of the earliest times, the enemy being apparently allowed sometimes the
privilege of burying their dead.

In Figure 27 B we have another fragment of this unique specimen of
Sumerian art. The representative of Lagash is here portrayed on a
colossal scale; his head has a profusion of hair, and from his face
hangs a long streaked beard similar to that worn by Gilgamesh on the
cylinder-seals. Possibly, as Heuzey suggests, this figure is a
representation of that hero of Babylonian folk-lore, but it is probably
a picture of the god Nin-girsu himself. In any case, it can hardly be
Eannatum, as the latter is on this same stele portrayed clean shaven.
This colossal figure grasps in his left hand the heraldic arms of
Lagash, while in his right hand he holds a round-headed mace similar to
that seen in other early bas-reliefs. Before him lie a number of
prisoners confined in a net or a cage (cf. Hab. I. 15); one of these
unhappy victims has thrust his head through the meshes of his prison
with a view to evading the next blow, but this laudable attempt does not
seem to have met with the success which it deserved, for the head of the
mace is seen in immediate contact with that of the individual in
question. All the figures here portrayed, whether belonging to
Eannatum’s army, or to that of the enemy, exhibit the same type of face,
the most distinguishing characteristics of which are the large
almond-shaped eyes and the aquiline nose. The stele is known as the
“Vulture Stele” and derives its name from another fragment on which are
portrayed a number of vultures making off with the heads, and sharply
severed limbs of the slain. Eannatum, whose victories are here
depicted, was succeeded by Enannatum, and after him Entemena, the
nephew of Eannatum ascended the throne. Unfortunately the artistic
relics of his time are few in number, but those that have survived are
peculiarly interesting. In a subsequent chapter (cf. Fig. 45) we shall
devote some space to an examination of the silver vase of this ancient
ruler, but here (cf. Fig 27, C) we have a specimen of the sculpture of
his reign.

This little sculptured block, which is made of a mixture of clay and
bitumen, and in appearance resembles black stone, was found in the
neighbourhood of a building composed of bricks bearing the name of
Entemena. In the upper register we see the heraldic device of the city
of Lagash—a lion-headed eagle grasping two lions facing in opposite
directions, doubtless indicative of the power exercised by Lagash over
the peoples of Sumer and Akkad. We have already seen it on the Vulture
Stele, and it occurs also on the yet earlier monuments of Ur-Ninâ, but a
comparison of the royal arms as here represented with the device on the
Vulture Stele (cf. Fig. 27, B) shows a marked advancement from the
artistic point of view. The eagle is still sufficiently stereotyped, and
the extraordinary amount of detail with which the artist has treated his
subject has had the undesirable effect of making it even more formal
than it would otherwise be, but the lions are much more animated and
vigorous in conception than in the earlier sculptures. Instead of
walking along in an impassive, lifeless manner, they literally writhe
under the grip of their victorious foe, whose wings they seek to gnaw
with their teeth. Below, we have a representation of a crouching calf or
heifer, one of whose front legs is raised as though about to leap up. As
Heuzey says, the pose of this animal is wonderfully natural, and must
have been studied from nature; it at once recalls the procession of
animals engraved on the silver vase of Entemena (cf. Fig. 45). No doubt
the animal here portrayed is a sacrificial victim. To the right of the
central hole found so frequently in these early sculptures, stands the
worshipper, of gigantic size, holding a staff in his left hand. He is
clean shaven, and is nude down to the waist, from which hangs the usual
kaunakes skirt. The lower part of this little block is decorated with
the scroll design so frequently encountered on cylinder-seals. The size
of its reproduction here however is entirely out of proportion to the
rest of the sculpture, and it may therefore in this case represent a
skein of wool as another form of offering. The mention of the priest
Dudu, whose name also occurs on the silver vase of Entemena, removes any
uncertainty there might be as to the period to which we should assign
this little block, though a judgment based on an examination of the
style of art here exhibited would have independently placed it in the
same category as the silver vase of Entemena. The line-characters in
which the inscription is written are more developed than those found on
the monuments of Ur-Ninâ and Eannatum, many of them already betraying
the wedge-shaped formation characteristic of the writing called


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_

_Musée du Louvre_


Sufficient perhaps has been said to give a general idea of the artistic
merits or demerits of the old Sumerian bas-reliefs of the first dynasty
of Lagash. The next Babylonian school of art which specifically compels
both attention and admiration is that to which the era of the kings of
Akkad or Agade gave birth. From some points of view Mesopotamian art
reached her climax at this period; neither before nor after was the
same success in the reproduction of human figures attained, and the
sculptures belonging to this period are in some ways unique in the
history of oriental art. The most famous of these monuments of
Babylonian genius is reproduced in Pl. XIII. This stele, which was found
at Susa in the course of M. G. de Morgan’s epoch-making excavations on
that site, was fashioned to commemorate some notable victory achieved by
Narâm-Sin of Agade. The king is seen in the act of ascending a high
mountain; behind him march his trusty warriors armed with spears or
lances, and apparently carrying standards. The king himself is armed
with a bow and arrow, and also a battle-axe, while his head is protected
by a horned helmet; before him crouches one of the enemy, into whose
neck an arrow has sunk deep, while another grasps the broken end of a
spear. The figure of the king is full of vitality and animation, and
offers a very striking contrast to the lifeless conventionalism
characteristic of the older Babylonian and the later Assyrian
representations of human beings. The whole scene is alive with action,
and the effect is not marred by any undue disproportion between the
figure of the king and those of his followers. Above the king’s head are
the remains of an inscription by Narâm-Sin, but upon the cone intended
to represent the mountain which the king is scaling, is an inscription
occupying seven lines and bearing the name of Shutruk-Nakhkhunte, king
of Elam, which seems to indicate that the stele had been captured by the
Elamites and carried off to Susa as a trophy. An interesting basalt
bas-relief of this same king was discovered near Diarbekr (cf. Fig. 28
“A”). Narâm-Sin is standing on the right of the inscription, clad in a
kind of plaid and wearing a conical hat. His beard is long and pointed,
while bracelets encircle his wrists, and he carries a short staff in
each hand.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.—A. (Hilprecht, _Old Bab. Inscr_., II, p. 63, No.
120.) B, C, D, E, F, Musée du Louvre. (Cf. Cat., pp. 131, 133, 139, 151,
147; _Déc. en Chald_., Plates 5, 22, 23, 24.)]

The remains (cf. Fig. 28 “B,” “C”) of another very interesting stele
belonging to about the same epoch or a little earlier, and military in
character, were discovered by De Sarzec at Tellô. In the top register of
fragment “B” three warriors are seen proceeding in file, two of whom are
archers and carry quivers which are decorated with large leaves, while a
leg is all that remains of the third. In the second register an archer
is seen in the act of drawing his bow; his attitude is fixed and steady,
and his bow is bent to the utmost, while his quiver hangs over his
shoulder; before him a smitten foe lies prostrate on his back, and in
contradistinction to his vanquisher who is clad in a long tunic, is
entirely naked, while his right hand is raised in supplication. We next
come to another warrior clad in a short fringed skirt and wearing a
conical helmet: with his left hand he is seizing the beard of an enemy,
who is also naked like his prostrate brother in the same register, and
his right hand is raised, about to bring down his knotted club upon the
face of his defeated prisoner. Below, is the figure of another warrior
armed with a long pike. In “C” we have another fragment of this
interesting sculpture, in the top register of which two warriors are
seen marching in file; the one behind is carrying a battle-axe at the
trail. In the register below, a warrior clad in a short skirt and
wearing a helmet is engaged with a prostrate enemy; one of his feet is
firmly planted in the unfortunate man’s stomach, and with his right hand
he is further punishing him with the aid of his knotted club. Behind
these two figures we have another like scene represented; here the
all-powerful warrior is armed with a long lance, which he is carrying at
the port; with his right arm he is marching along a prisoner much
shorter than himself, whose arms are bound behind his back; the prisoner
is naked, like most of the defeated enemies of Sumer and Akkad as
portrayed by the sculptor. All that remains of the third register is the
head and the upper part of the bow of an archer.

Apart from the spirit which animates these little figures, the chief
point of interest in connection with them lies in the general scheme of
artistic representation here adopted. No longer is the conquering army
portrayed _en masse_ as on the Vulture Stele of Eannatum, but the idea
conveyed and the event commemorated are precisely the same in either
case. The all-prevailing idea is that of victory, only the picture of a
phalanx of armed troops trampling the nude bodies of their foes beneath
their feet, has given place to a series of selected incidents of
individual combat, represented after the Homeric fashion. This sculpture
clearly belongs to the same school as Narâm-Sin’s stele of Victory,
which, however, it probably somewhat antedates, as the cuneiform signs
found on the second fragment are of a more archaic character than those
used on the monuments of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin. The little that
remains of the inscription is of considerable interest as it contains a
mention of the city of Agade, the centre of the Semitic Empire
established by the two last-named kings.

We must now pass from the epoch of the Semitic kings of Agade or Akkad,
to the later period of Sumerian civilization, the age in which Ur-Engur
and Dungi, kings of Ur, and Ur-Bau and Gudea, rulers of Lagash, lived
and reigned. We are unable to assign a definite date to any of these
rulers, but they probably flourished somewhere about the middle of the
third millennium B.C. One of the most interesting bas-reliefs belonging
to this time is reproduced in Fig. 28, “D.” We have here a
representation of a god seated on a throne. He wears a long square
beard, and his head is surmounted by the horned cap emblematic of
divinity; his mantle covers nearly the whole of his body, the right arm
alone being excepted. The head, which in its contour and general
appearance recalls the heads of the Assyrian winged human-headed lions
and bulls of some fifteen or sixteen centuries later (cf. Plate XXV), is
like them, depicted full face, the seated body being sculptured in
profile; in his left hand the god holds a sceptre, the end of which is
fashioned like a leaf. In Fig. 28, “E,” we have a reproduction of what
is probably the largest fragment of an early Babylonian bas-relief in
existence. It was excavated at Tellô and measures about four feet in
length. The upper part of the relief is occupied with a procession of
four figures apparently engaged in the service of the gods, while below,
a seated figure is seen playing an elaborate instrument of eleven
strings, the lower part of the frame of which is decorated with a horned
head and the figure of a bull. This relief would appear to have formed
part of a stone socket.

As might be expected, the material used for most of the Babylonian as
well as the later Assyrian bas-reliefs was a species of limestone and
alabaster, as this kind of stone lends itself readily to the impress of
the chisel, but the harder stones were also sometimes utilized for the
purpose.[92] Thus in Fig. 28, F, we have a sketch of what remains of a
black steatite relief belonging to this period. The fragmentary
inscription gives us the name of the goddess Ningal, who is here
portrayed in a singularly attractive manner, and with an extraordinary
amount of detail. An elaborate robe covers the whole of her body, and a
necklace adorns her throat; her hair hangs over her shoulders, while the
crown of her head is encircled by a fillet. The general technique of
this little sculpture is surprising in its fidelity to nature; the
attitude of the goddess, her body half turned and her left arm resting
negligently on the back of her chair is life-like, and the face itself
is not without a beauty of its own. The difficulty involved in the
portrayal of a human eye in profile, so painfully manifest on the
Vulture Stele and other earlier Sumerian monuments, where the eye is
portrayed full-face, the rest of the head being done in profile, has
here been surmounted, and we have before us a perfectly naturally
conceived and executed face and head.

Some few centuries after the time of Gudea the city of Babylon became
the centre of the chief power in Southern Mesopotamia. Unfortunately the
excavations have not yielded us a rich harvest for the study of the
artistic development of sculpture during this period, but the material
at hand would tend to show that there was far less development in the
interval between the later dynasty of Lagash, the age in which Gudea
lived, and the establishment of the first Semitic dynasty of the city of
Babylon, than there was in the period separating the first dynasty of
Lagash from the epoch of Sargon and Narâm-Sin, the Semitic kings of


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ _Musée du Louvre_


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ _British Museum_


In Pl. XIV we have a reproduction of the sculptured stele of black
basalt upon which is inscribed the world-renowned legal code of
Khammurabi, the most illustrious king of this first dynasty of Babylon.
The king is seen standing in reverential attitude before the Sun-god
Shamash, from whom he is receiving the laws inscribed below. The king
wears a long robe reaching down to his ankles, but leaving his right
arm, which is raised in adoration, untrammelled by the folds of his
mantle. The seated deity likewise has a long beard, but his high horned
cap differentiates him at once from his adoring servant, while from his
shoulders tongues of fire are seen shooting forth, doubtless
representing the rays of the sun. In his right hand he holds the ring
and staff emblematic of dominion and power. He is similarly represented
in Nabû-aplu-iddina’s tablet (cf. Pl. XIV) and also on two
contemporaneous stelæ in the Louvre, in one of which he is in a standing
position. Beneath his feet are the mountains portrayed in miniature. The
laws enacted on this stele, which is now one of the treasures of the
Louvre, number about two hundred and eighty, and deal with all kinds of
subjects. It was set up in E-sagila, the temple of the chief god Marduk
in Babylon, so that every aggrieved party at law could go and consult
it. Like so many of the monuments of Babylonian antiquity, this stele
was captured by the Elamites and removed to Susa, where it remained
until the French excavations on that site brought it once more to

As we have already seen[93] the dynasty to which Khammurabi belonged was
brought to an end some time later by an invasion of the Hittites, a
powerful mountainous people whose home lay in Cappadocia. A century or
so afterwards, i.e. about 1800 B.C., another mountainous nation known as
the Kassites swept down from their strongholds in the Elamite territory
on the east of the Tigris into the defenceless Babylonian plain, where
they established and maintained their supremacy for a long time to come.
Unfortunately the artistic relics of the Kassite period are few, and for
the most part unimportant. Meanwhile, however, the Assyrians in the
north had asserted their independence, and ultimately (i.e. about 1275
B.C.) succeeded in reducing Babylonia and establishing their sway over
the whole of Mesopotamia. In spite of this fact, we have practically no
specimen of the sculptor’s art during the long interval separating the
fall of the First Dynasty of Babylon and the ninth century B.C., and it
is not till the time of Ashur-naṣir-pal, king of Assyria, and
Nabû-aplu-iddina, king of Babylon, that we are able again to study in
detail the work of the sculptor in the Tigro-Euphratian valley. To the
former king we are indebted for a large series of bas-reliefs taken from
the walls of his palace at Nimrûd (Calah), while to the latter we owe
one of the most interesting and instructive Babylonian bas-reliefs in
existence (cf. Pl. XIV).

One of the earliest specimens of Assyrian bas-relief as yet discovered
is that which was found by Taylor at a village called Korkhar, situated
some fifty miles north of Diarbekr. The relief in question was
sculptured on the natural rock, which had been smoothed for the purpose
by order of Tiglath-Pileser I (_circ._ 1100 B.C.).[94] The king is
represented in a standing posture, his right arm is extended and he is
pointing with his forefinger, while in his left hand he holds a mace;
the king’s figure and general appearance are already quite stereotyped,
and show no more originality or vigour than the representations of the
later Assyrian kings. This same monarch has further left us the upper
part of an obelisk erected to commemorate his feats in the chase, on
one side of which there is a small relief in which Tiglath-Pileser is
seen receiving the submission of various vassal-chiefs, while above
their heads are the emblems of certain deities, the most interesting of
which is the winged human-headed disc of Ashur, the patron god of
Assyria. But these reliefs, interesting as they are, afford us little
material upon which to form an estimate of the sculptural ability of the
Assyrians at this period; the chief inference which they permit us to
draw is that Assyrian art seems to have neither advanced nor declined
appreciably, during the interval of two hundred or more years which
lapsed between the time of Tiglath-Pileser and Ashur-naṣir-pal. The
latter king succeeded his father Tukulti-Ninib II as king of Assyria
(885 B.C.). Tukulti-Ninib had largely restored the fallen fortunes of
the northern country, thus paving the way for the successes of future
reigns, but Ashur-naṣir-pal extended the power of Assyria in every
direction, as well as consolidating her rule over the districts reduced
by his father. It is accordingly by no means unnatural that he should
have desired to commemorate and perpetuate the record of his triumphs in
pictorial fashion upon the walls of his palace at Nimrûd, and it is with
his reign that the history of Assyrian bas-reliefs really commences, so
far as our present material goes.

Assyria was in some ways the natural home of the bas-relief, for she
contained a plentiful supply of alabaster and limestone, the softness of
which facilitated the work of the artist and reduced his difficulties to
a minimum: Babylonia on the other hand yielded practically no stone, and
all that was used had to be quarried at a distance and transported at
great cost and labour, and that fact makes the early efforts of the
Babylonians in this direction all the more praise-worthy, and the
proficiency to which those efforts gave birth, as seen for example in
Narâm-Sin’s stele of Victory, the more astonishing. But this
notwithstanding, the bas-relief was more highly developed in the
northern country, where it played an all-important part in the artistic
life of the people. The general object of these bas-reliefs was to
commemorate the king’s victories over his enemies and his conquests in
the chase, rather than to produce a purely æsthetic effect. In other
words they are pictorial records rather than artistic products, and that
fact is further borne witness to by the cuneiform texts with which they
are generally inscribed. At the same time however, they afford material
for the study of Assyrian sculpture. The art of sculpture in Assyria
suffered all the drawbacks which befall every art once it becomes
professionalized; it lacks spontaneity which is the very connotation of
art, it is made to order, and therefore it inevitably knows no freedom
but is the dull slave of conventionalism. But in spite of all this, the
bas-reliefs of Ashur-naṣir-pal and his successors, hampered as they are
by those universal enemies of human art, professionalism and
conventionalism, still enshrine, or imprison if you will, the artistic
genius of the people, and on this account, if for no other, are
deserving of careful attention.

The reliefs which covered the walls of the palace of Ashur-naṣir-pal at
Nimrûd (Calah) consist either of single figures of gigantic size, or
else in a series of small scenes divided into two friezes by cuneiform
inscriptions. In Pl. XV we see Ashur-naṣir-pal followed by a winged
mythological being; both are engaged in the performance of a religious
ceremony, the king with the bow and the arrow which he holds in his
hands, the attendant with the cone which he holds up in his right hand.
The semi-divine character of the winged creature is evidenced by his
head-gear which consists of the horned cap, but the faces of both
figures are more or less identical, a lamentable characteristic of all
Assyrian portrayals of human or semi-humanly conceived beings. The
chief peculiarities of this type of face are the large eyes, the curved
nose, and the profusion of hair on both head and face. Both figures are
clad in a long robe and deeply fringed mantle which extend to the feet.
The footwear consists of sandals fastened by thongs passing over the
instep and round the big toe. The muscular arms of both are adorned with
bracelets, the pattern of the decoration on which is a replica of the
ubiquitous rosette so characteristic of Assyrian art. The king’s
head-gear consists of a helmet from which two tails hang, and in its
appearance generally, is not unlike a bishop’s mitre. Both king and
divine attendant carry what appear to be two daggers tucked into their
waistbands. The muscularity noticeable in the arms is yet more
aggressive in the left leg of the mythological being, which, unlike that
of the king, is left exposed. This grotesquely realized conception of
strength is but the decadent descendant of the naturally expressed
vigour so noticeable in the statues of Gudea. And here may be mentioned
one characteristic peculiarity of Assyrian sculpture; it will be
observed that a long cuneiform inscription is chiselled right across the
relief, pursuing the even or uneven tenor of its way quite recklessly
through wings, garments, bodies and hands, and there is no obstacle
which it fails to overcome, not even excepting the deep fringe on the


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ _British Museum_


The subjects of the smaller reliefs of Ashur-naṣir-pal are many and
various, though they all revolve round one of two themes, the
battle-field or the chase. In one, Ashur-naṣir-pal has alighted from his
chariot and is receiving the submission of the enemy; in another we see
a number of fugitives swimming to a fortress on inflated skins. Here we
see tributary chiefs bringing offerings to lay them at the feet of their
imperious lord, while further on we see the bowmen of Ashur-naṣir-pal
mounted in their chariots and discharging arrows against the enemy. In
one relief the king himself is seen erect in his chariot with his bow
fully drawn; elsewhere Ashur-naṣir-pal is represented in the act of
crossing a river; the king has not however dismounted from his chariot,
but is being rowed over, chariot and all.

One of the most luminous of these small bas-reliefs is reproduced in Pl.
XVI(2). Ashur-naṣir-pal and his army are storming a beleaguered city;
the walls of the city are crenelated after the regular Mesopotamian
fashion. Immediately before the walls the movable tower resting on six
small wheels and containing the battering ram is stationed, the efficacy
of which may be judged from the bricks falling from the battered walls.
Mounted on the top of the tower is an archer with bow bent, whose person
is protected by another warrior bearing a shield. The king is portrayed
behind the movable tower in the act of drawing his bow; his head-gear
differs from that of the warriors, who wear a conical helmet. In Pl.
XVI(3), we see the warriors of Ashur-naṣir-pal returning victorious from
the battle-field. On the right of the picture are two three-horse
chariots, both of which carry standard-bearers; above them we see a
vulture making off with his prey, which in this instance consists in a
human head, and in front are the infantry who appear to be gloating over
the gory heads of their smitten adversaries, while to add to the
ghastliness of the scene two musicians are playing on stringed

Ashur-naṣir-pal was however quite as proud of his victories in the chase
as he was of his conquests in the battle-field, as is attested by the
numerous hunting scenes which he caused to be carved in relief on his
palace walls. In Pl. XVI(4) we see Ashur-naṣir-pal, erect in his
chariot, in the act of dispatching a lion by the aid of his bow and
arrow. The lion is treated with considerable boldness, and the skill of
the artist in the portrayal of animal life—or death, as here—when
compared with the stereotyped lifelessness of the king, is sufficiently
striking. But Assyrian art does not reach its climax here, as we shall
see when we come to consider the lions on Ashur-bani-pal’s bas-reliefs;
the latter show a certain delicacy in the handling, and an intuition
into all those infinite subtleties and varying nuances which are the
hall-mark of life, animal or human as the case may be, and which
apparently are not felt or at all events not successfully realized in
the earlier works. The portrayal of the lion here is strong and
life-like, but the spectator can never get away from the consciousness
of the fact that it is a pictorial representation; he can never abandon
the thought of the sculptor and the excellence of his art, or lose
himself, be it only for a moment, in the reality itself. But in the
reliefs of Ashur-bani-pal, one can for a brief space forget the artist
and his work, and see the lion itself; one can catch a faint note of his
dying gasp as he lies there motionless, his body transfixed with arrows,
and it is in the effacement of the artist and the material which he uses
that art attains the zenith of her power.


[Illustration: _Photos. Mansell_ _British Museum_






But Ashur-naṣir-pal’s love for sport did not deter him from his
religious obligations, on the contrary he appears to have attributed his
triumphs in the chase to his god, for on his return he offers a libation
over the body of the lion or bull which providence has delivered into
his hand (cf. Pl. XVI(1)). The cup he holds in his hand resembles the
top of a champagne glass, while his left hand is leaning on a bow in the
usual characteristic manner. Before him is an officer, evidently of high
rank, for his dress is an exact replica of the king’s, but his head is
bare and his hands are clasped in a deferential manner. By the side of
this high official is an attendant or eunuch with a fly-flap, while
behind him is another attendant, and last of all are two musicians
playing stringed instruments. On the other side of the picture,
immediately behind the king is an attendant with a ceremonial umbrella,
followed by two servants with bows on their shoulders.

Although Ashur-naṣir-pal’s contemporary Nabû-aplu-iddina king of Babylon
has left us but few memorials of his reign, we are nevertheless indebted
to him for one unique specimen of Mesopotamian sculpture (cf. Pl. XIV).
Reference has already been made to this tablet on account of the light
which it throws on certain architectural problems, it now remains for us
to consider it as a work of art and an historical monument. The text
records the restoration of the temple of Shamash by two kings called
Simmash-shipak and Eulmash-shakin-shûm, both of whose reigns took place
some time in the eleventh century B.C. It then proceeds to describe the
condition into which the temple, its ornaments and accessories
subsequently fell; the shrine of the god had been denuded of its
treasures which had been misappropriated in one way or another; the
sculptures which adorned the walls and the image of the deity himself
had suffered violence at the hands of the godless. All this
Nabû-aplu-iddina set about to rectify; he restored the glory which the
fane had enjoyed in early days, in particular he enriched the
time-honoured statue of the god with gold and lapis lazuli, he
re-established the temple worship in all its former pomp and splendour,
and took vengeance upon the enemies of Shamash and the king who had
perpetrated this sacrilegious outrage. The king himself celebrated the
occasion of the temple’s re-dedication by a munificent supply of
offerings, and issued detailed regulations as to the ceremonial
vestments of the priests, and the days upon which in each case they were
to be worn in future. In the scene above, Shamash is portrayed enthroned
in his shrine at Sippar, holding a disc and rod in his right hand; the
sides of the throne are sculptured with mythological beings, whose rôle
seems to be to support the throne, while above and in front of the god’s
head are three astrological emblems. The roof and supporting pillar of
the shrine itself have been discussed elsewhere (cf. p. 164): two divine
beings are stationed on the top of the shrine; they hold in their hands
two taut ropes which are attached to a large disc, emblematic of the
sun, placed on an altar immediately in front of the shrine, and by means
of which the disc is kept in position. Approaching the altar and
advancing towards the shrine are seen three worshippers, the first of
whom is the high-priest of Shamash, who is introducing the king into the
presence of the divine symbol in a manner so frequently seen on
Babylonian cylinder-seals, while last of all comes a goddess. One of the
interesting points about this little sculptured tablet is that though it
was made by a ninth century king of Babylon the style of art to which it
conforms would indicate that it is not an original work of
Nabû-aplu-iddina, but a copy of a much older archetype. The head-dress
of the god for example is characterized by four tiers of horns, and is
practically identical with that found even as early as the time of
Gudea, the later Assyrian divine head-dress on the other hand generally
having but two or three horns on either side: Shamash here too holds the
disc and rod in his hand in precisely the same manner as he is
represented doing on the famous stele of Khammurabi (cf. Pl. XIV); his
long beard is likewise depicted in much the same way as it is there. In
short, there seems little doubt that the original of this ninth century
product must be sought for somewhere about the commencement of the
second millennium B.C. Another particularly interesting feature about
the discovery of this sculpture was the simultaneous discovery of two
clay coverings for it. One of these was found to be broken, and was
probably made by Nabû-aplu-iddina himself, but the other bears an
inscription of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon from 625-604 B.C. During
the two centuries which had elapsed between the time of Nabû-aplu-iddina
and the reign of Nabopolassar, the oft-restored temple had again fallen
into disrepair, and it fell to the lot of the last-named king to once
more restore the time-honoured fane; he too, like his predecessor two
hundred years before, made “offerings rich and rare” to the immortal
Shamash. The object of these clay coverings was of course to preserve
the sculpture from damage (cf. Fig. 5).


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ _British Museum_


(_Reign of Tiglath-Pileser III_)]

To return to Assyria, Ashur-naṣir-pal was succeeded by his son
Shalmaneser II: we unfortunately possess but few bas-reliefs belonging
to the time of this king, the best-known being those sculptured on the
Black Obelisk; these reliefs have been illustrated and dealt with in
detail in so many works, owing chiefly to the historic importance of the
inscription on this monument, that it seems hardly necessary nor
desirable to discuss them here. Shalmaneser’s immediate successors have
left us few memorials of themselves, artistic or otherwise, and after
their reigns a general decadence seems to have set in, from which
Assyria did not recover till the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III, or Pul as
he is called in 2 Kings xv. 19 and elsewhere. This king restored the
fortunes of the empire, and extended his power on every side, and
happily for our subject he has immortalized his exploits in
picture-fashion on hard stone, as well as in writing on clay cylinders
and tablets, though unfortunately the bas-reliefs of this king which
have survived are few in number. One of the best preserved is that in
which Tiglath-Pileser III is seen conducting a siege (cf. Pl. XVII). The
details of this sculpture vividly recall the words Isaiah is reported to
have used in his endeavour to rally the failing courage of Hezekiah,
king of Judah, who was inclined to surrender himself and his city to
Sennacherib—“Thus saith the Lord concerning the King of Assyria, he
shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before
it with shields nor cast a bank against it.” All the means of attack
here mentioned are represented in our bas-relief. The warriors have
their bows bent, and doubtless have already dispatched many an arrow
with deadly effect: their persons are protected by large wicker shields
which cover the whole of their bodies. The “bank” in this case has
clearly been “cast against” the besieged city, and the purpose that the
“bank” was destined to serve is at once manifest. It consisted in an
artificial mound up which the movable tower containing the battering-ram
was advanced. On the top of the wall of the besieged city, a man is
seen with hands outstretched suing for mercy. The defeat of the enemy
and the reduction of their city is signalized in a highly realistic
fashion; beneath the “bank” some of the vanquished are seen prostrate
and naked, while above, on a level with the top of the wall a number of
captives, also naked, are impaled on stakes. The inscription refers to
the various articles of tribute brought by conquered peoples, but is not
possessed of any especial interest.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.—Bas-relief from Khorsabad. (After Botta.)]

Tiglath-Pileser III was succeeded by Shalmaneser IV, the most noteworthy
event of whose reign was the siege of Samaria; the city held out two
years, and fell in 722 B.C., after Shalmaneser had been dethroned by
Sargon the usurper. Sargon reigned some eighteen years and achieved many
victories, the most momentous of which was that gained over the united
Egyptians and Philistines at Raphia, near the Egyptian frontier. His
sculptural bequests are many, and they comprise the gigantic winged
human-headed bulls and lions which are in some ways the most impressive
and the most characteristic specimens of oriental art. These winged
monsters are neither bas-reliefs, nor are they perfect round sculptures,
but a mixture of the two, and will accordingly receive consideration in
the second half of this chapter.

But the palace erected by Sargon at Khorsabad, which was excavated by
Botta more than half a century ago has yielded a rich harvest of
bas-reliefs pure and simple, one of which is reproduced in Fig. 29. The
scene is a familiar one in Assyrian sculpture; a fortress is being
attacked, of course successfully, by Assyrian soldiers. The fortress
appears to have been built on the top of a height, doubtless with a view
to rendering it the more impregnable. It consists of three rows of
towers, superimposed one on the top of the other, the largest row being
at the base and the smallest at the top, the general contour not being
unlike that of a ziggurat with its receding stages. One wing of the
fortress is protected by two towers, with which it is connected by
means of a wall, while the other wing apparently extends right down the
slope of the height. Access to the fortress is gained by arched
doorways, one of the many incidental proofs of the frequency with which
the arch was used in Assyrian architecture. A number of small
rectangular houses lie at the foot of the hill, the doorways of which
are arched like those of the flanking towers, while in both cases the
doors or gates themselves are double-leaved. The windows, or
embrasures, which are very numerous, are all square, and the battlements
are crenelated as usual. Three pairs of colossal horns crown the
fortress, which Botta is inclined to think may be actual horns, the
disproportion of their size being of course no argument against that
view, for disproportion is a characteristic of early oriental art. In
such case they could be only emblematic, and presumably indicative of
strength, but it seems infinitely more probable that the horns represent
the sculptor’s attempt to portray flames of fire, which are thus seen
leaping up from the fired fortress. Some of the besieged are suing for
mercy with outstretched hands, while others are evidently determined to
fight to the last: they are armed with long spears and rectangular
shields, while their backs are covered with the skins of animals. The
enemy are literally at the gate, and it is impossible to tell when they
will effect an entrance. Three of them are attempting to undermine the
wall by means of long-handled prongs, two more are at work with their
short swords, while to the left are two Assyrian spearmen of superhuman
size, whose symbolic presence at once removes even the faintest shadow
of doubt there might be as to the issue of the conflict. The attack is a
strenuous one, as a mere walkover would bring no glory to the Assyrian
arms, but at the same time, in spite of the severity of the battle
raging round the fortress, the irresistible might of the Assyrian
colossus is grimly suggested by the two giant warriors. The artistic
treatment of the two heroes deserves some notice; the aggressive
muscularity so characteristic of Assyrian representations of kings and
warriors is not indeed altogether wanting in the legs, but the arms are
wholly free from this all but universal defect, while the pose of both
arms and legs is exceptionally natural and singularly true to life. They
are armed with spears of the same type as those used by the beleaguered
army, but their shields are round in contradistinction to the oblong
shields of the enemy, and they are girded with short swords. Their
clothing and helmets are of a frequently recurring type, while both of
them wear armlets and one of them wears a plain bracelet on his left

Sargon was succeeded in 705 B.C. by his famous son Sennacherib, the
principal event of whose reign was probably the destruction of Babylon
in 689 B.C. But the name of Sennacherib is famous rather on account of
his close relations with the kingdom of Judah, and the unsuccessful
siege of Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah, than for the conquests
which he made, considerable as they were. The excavation of his palace
at Nineveh has led to the discovery of a large number of bas-reliefs,
many of which had been fractured as well as damaged by fire when the
city was sacked by the combined forces of the Medes and the Babylonians
about 609 B.C. For the most part they illustrate the campaigns
undertaken by Sennacherib. What is noticeable at once in the bas-reliefs
of this king is their complexity, as contrasted with the simplicity of
those of Ashur-naṣir-pal. We have already observed that entire scenes
are sometimes portrayed upon the bas-reliefs of the last-named monarch,
though more often the relief is monopolized by two or three large and
striking figures, one of which generally represents the king, but by
Sennacherib’s time what had hitherto been the exception now becomes the
rule, and the bas-reliefs of this king are practically all scenic in
their effect and most elaborate in their composition. This exaggerated
complexity is due not so much to the variety of subjects treated in each
relief, as to the ignorance of perspective on the part of the artist,
for the treatment of even a limited number of subjects or objects within
the scope of a single picture demands that these objects be seen and
represented in perspective, and if that demand is not met, confusion
worse confounded is the inevitable result of the artist’s abortive
attempt. This confusion is seen to perfection, if the “_oxymoron_” may
be allowed, in the reliefs which adorned the palace walls of
Sennacherib king of Assyria. A portion of one of the most instructive of
these sculptured slabs is reproduced in Fig. 30.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.—Bas-relief of Sennacherib. (After Layard.)]

The scene is one of great interest, not merely for the student of
Assyrian art, but for the light which it throws upon the mechanical
resources of which the Assyrians of that day availed themselves,
resources which the very existence of the gigantic human-headed bulls
and lions presupposes, but which are here illustrated in a specific
manner by Sennacherib’s sculptors. The safe transport of a gigantic mass
of solid stone was no easy matter even for the excavator of the
nineteenth century,[95] how much greater the difficulties to be
surmounted by a people whose mechanical knowledge was some two and a
half millennia younger! In the artistic treatment of this sculpture
there are of course obvious defects. There is the usual ignorance of
perspective on the part of the sculptor, though this is less pronounced
than elsewhere; the trees in the foreground and background are arranged
in lines in a somewhat conventional manner, though the intentional or
accidental diminution of size in the trees in the background as compared
with those in the front of the sculpture, makes the general setting of
the scene appear much more true in its arrangement than would otherwise
be the case. Unfortunately it has not been possible to include the back
row of trees without sacrificing the more important parts of the
sculpture, hence their omission here.

All interest is centred round the bull, Assyrians and war-captives alike
having but one work and that is the transport of this awe-inspiring
monster. In the right-hand corner we see two carts, each being drawn by
two prisoners and containing ropes and timber. The carts have two
wheels, each wheel containing eight spokes in contradistinction to the
four spokes of the early Babylonian wheels. The bull has been carefully
laid on its side upon a sledge which is shaped like a boat in the front.
Both ends of the sledge are pierced with round holes for the reception
of the ropes. The latter, tightly secured to the sledge and bull, are
about to be pulled by a number of prisoners who succeed under the gentle
stimulus of the taskmaster’s lash in gradually moving the colossal
monster. Before starting, however, it was seemingly necessary to give
the sledge some assistance by means of a huge lever, one end of which is
placed under the stern while to the other end three ropes are attached,
by means of which a number of workmen are doing their utmost to move the
lever on its fulcrum. To gain a greater leverage one of the workmen is
engaged in inserting a wedge between the upper surface of the fulcrum
and the under side of the lever, while the movement of the sledge is
further facilitated by means of rollers which workmen are seen busily
putting in position. Upon the top of the recumbent bull kneels the
foreman engineer giving the signal for each successive and united effort
to the men on the towing-ropes. The presence of three soldiers was
apparently necessary to enforce the admonitions of the foreman—an early
example of the invocation of the military to support civil authority.
Below in the foreground, a number of captives are seen carrying rollers
to be set down as the bull advances. They are accompanied by taskmasters
who appear to have been wholly devoid of any sense of mercy.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.—Sennacherib at Lachish. (After Layard.)]

But the best known, because from certain points of view the most
interesting, bas-relief from Sennacherib’s palace at Kouyunjik is that
in which Sennacherib is seen receiving the submission of the conquered
inhabitants of Lachish (Tell el-Ḥesy) (cf. Fig. 31). The king is seated
on a throne of great magnificence, and his feet repose on a high
footstool. The side of the throne is divided into three registers, each
of which is occupied by a row of men with arms upstretched to support
the bar above: the bars themselves are decorated with various
geometrical devices, while the throne stands upon four large cone-shaped
feet. The king’s robes are as elaborate as his throne, both mantle and
tunic being richly embroidered and fringed with tassels, while his
head-gear consists in a kind of mitre, apparently the usual state
head-gear of Assyrian monarchs. Behind him are two attendants, probably
eunuchs, each holding a fly-flap in his right hand and a bandlet in his
left; their dress consists in a long robe reaching down to the ankle
and tied round the waist with a girdle, while a variegated sash passing
from the left shoulder across the chest relieves the monotony of the
comparatively inornate costume. Their hair is long, and the ends are
curled as in the other figures here represented, but they are beardless
and hatless. Behind these two attendants is the royal pavilion, the
roof-canvas of which is apparently raised either for ventilation or to
keep off the sun. The king with a bow in his left hand and an arrow in
his right, is listening to his chief officers who are reporting the
incidents of the siege of Lachish. The personage who leads the
procession carries no arms, but has his head bared and is clad more
sumptuously than the attendant officers, as befitteth the king’s vizier;
the warriors are armed with maces, short swords, bows and arrows, or
spears as the case may be. At a respectful distance from the royal
throne three representatives of the conquered inhabitants of the city
are making their obeisance before the king, one of them literally
grovelling on all fours. The prisoners have a thick, though not a long,
crop of hair, while their beards are also thick and short, in
contradistinction to those of the Assyrians. Their dress consists of a
perfectly plain, short-sleeved tunic reaching from neck to ankle, while
their feet are unshod. The dress of the Assyrian warriors will be
considered in a subsequent chapter (Chap. XIII). The scene of this
somewhat dramatic spectacle is outside the captured city, under the
grateful shade of vines and fig-trees, while mountains covered with
trees form a fitting background to the picture. The purport of the
four-lined cuneiform inscription in front of the king is that
Sennacherib, king of hosts, king of Assyria, sat upon his throne of
state, and the spoil of the city of Lachish passed before him. But
magnificent as is the throne upon which Sennacherib is here seated, it
must have been far surpassed in splendour by his royal throne at
Nineveh; the latter was apparently made of rock crystal, some of the
fragments of which are still preserved.

Sennacherib was succeeded after some intestine feuds by his son
Esarhaddon; Esarhaddon carried on the traditions of his predecessors in
warring against Phœnicia, and reducing Babylonia, but the distinguishing
feature of his reign was the occupation of Lower Egypt by the Assyrians
in 672 B.C. Unfortunately we have very few sculptural monuments of this
king, though it must not be assumed from this that he was a whit less
proud of his feats than his father, but his reign has practically no
interest for the student of art and affords us little material for the
pursuit of our present subject. This remark, however, is very far from
applying to Ashur-bani-pal, his all-glorious son, whose triumphs in the
field of art were as great in their way as those achieved in the
battle-field. Ashur-bani-pal came to the throne in 668 B.C. and ruled
some forty-two years, during which he raised the power of Assyria to a
point never reached before and never reached again. The more noteworthy
events of Ashur-bani-pal’s reign as well as the consequential effects of
his taste for literature have been treated of elsewhere; suffice it to
say here that this outburst of military, intellectual and artistic
activity was but the supreme effort of an empire whose strength was
exhausted and whose vitality was impaired, and even before the death of
Ashur-bani-pal the meteoric splendour of her glory had begun to pale. It
was as it were the final sickness of an aged man who had weathered many
storms and whose recuperative power had hitherto risen to every
occasion, at last however the final crisis comes and all is over. But
that golden era of Assyrian art, so brief and short-lived, has
nevertheless been immortalized by the artists of that day in those stone
slabs which now form one of the most precious possessions of the British

Ashur-bani-pal’s exploits in the hunting field have been already
referred to, and it is these that he chose to record pictorially upon
his palace-walls rather than his victories on the field of battle, and
it is to this choice that we owe those masterpieces of animal
representation, which otherwise might never have been crystallized into
concrete and permanent results.

A large number of these bas-reliefs are concerned with lion-hunting;
from Pl. XVIII it would appear that lions sometimes suffered themselves
to become domesticated; we here see a lion and lioness, the one
standing, the other lying carelessly stretched at its ease upon the
ground, in a kind of garden, the cultivated character of which is
manifest from the presence of a vine. The lion stands before the
crouching lioness with head and fore-paws outstretched, in a manner
well-illustrative of that dignity and majesty which is always and has
always been associated with the king of animals. Unfortunately most of
the head and the entire hind-quarters of the lion are missing, but
sufficient remains of the animal for us to imagine the rest without much
risk of our imagination leading us astray.


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell British Museum_



[Illustration: _Photos. Mansell British Museum_


But the animals which were the victims of the royal sport must clearly
have been wild; sometimes they admitted of being hunted in their natural
state, but in Ashur-bani-pal’s time it was evidently necessary to
capture them beforehand and keep them in cages till required for the
hunt. In Pl. XIX we see one such captive specimen emerging from his
temporary prison at the instance of the attendant who has pulled up the
wicker gate of the cage. The lion’s satisfaction at his release is shown
by the alacrity with which he sallies forth, little conscious of the
doom in front of him. Though the end seems always to have been the
same, the method by which the end was accomplished varied from time to
time. Thus on one occasion the king is seen thrusting his long-shafted
spear into the lion’s back, himself securely mounted in his chariot; at
another time he is on foot, and is almost playfully stabbing the lion in
the neck with his dagger, but the more usual way—no doubt, because the
safest—of dispatching big game, and lions in particular, seems to have
been by means of the bow and arrow which could be brought into play at a
respectful distance. In Pl. XIX we see a number of lions thus
transfixed; their various positions, some of which are sublimely
natural, while others appear rather imaginative, all speak eloquently
and in moving terms of that common tragedy to which all the animal
world, whether human or bestial must some day become victims,—the
tragedy of death. One lion is seen transfixed by four arrows, two of
which are deeply lodged in the lion’s neck, a third in the centre of the
head, and the last in the middle of the back. The lion is prostrate, his
four legs dragging helplessly behind and underneath his massive body,
while his face bespeaks the death-agony in which he lies convulsed.
Above, on the left, another animal has been incapacitated, if not
mortally wounded, by two arrow wounds, one in the neck and the other in
the back, while a little lower down to the right, a lioness smitten
through the lungs has rolled over helplessly on her back. At the bottom
of this unique scene we have another lion transfixed by some five
arrows, most of which are lodged in or about the animal’s head; like the
lioness he has sunk over on his back, his limbs being contorted almost
beyond recognition. To the left we have the full hind-quarters of a lion
who is springing up in a frenzy of rage excited by an arrow-wound in the
back. Last of all in the bottom left-hand corner another lion is seen in
the act of expiring as the result of his wounds. But whatever end befell
the unfortunate lion, he seems to have been attended with ceremonial
rites at the last, his body was conveyed home by three or four male
servants, and stretched upon the ground, after which the king himself
pours a libation over the silent, motionless animal, whose grandeur in
death is only surpassed by his energy in life (cf. Pl. XX).

The large majority of the visitors to the Assyrian Saloon in the British
Museum, where these masterpieces of animal reproduction are arranged,
have never witnessed a lion hunt in real life, but none can go away
without having an ineffaceable impression left on his mind of the
grimness of such a scene, of which the reality is here so graphically
portrayed. Lion-hunting was doubtless the favourite sport of the
Assyrian kings, but other game also engaged the royal patronage, notably
deer, wild asses and bulls. Ashur-naṣir-pal has left us a sculpture in
which he is represented hunting wild bulls from his chariot, and in Pl.
XX we have a bas-relief from Ashur-bani-pal’s palace on which a wild-ass
hunt is seen in full progress. In the upper part of the scene a wild-ass
lies helpless on his back, pierced by three arrows, while a fourth arrow
is on the wing, though swiftly nearing its appointed goal. To the right
we see another ass rushing away in hot haste before the double onslaught
of dogs and arrows. To the left two dogs resembling mastiffs are busily
engaged in checking the headlong course of a wild ass whose flight has
already been retarded by the arrow which has pierced his fore-quarters.
Below, a hound of the type already alluded to is in mad pursuit of a
young foal. The foal is preceded by a full-grown ass who is turning its
head solicitously, possibly in anxiety for its own safety, possibly for
that of the young foal behind. The manner in which this latter action
has been portrayed by the artist is surprising in its fidelity to nature
and its artistic merits. To enable the reader to form a fair and correct
estimate of the genius of the Assyrians in the art of animal
representation it would be necessary to give reproductions of the whole
series of Ashur-bani-pal’s hunting scenes, but it is hoped that
sufficient has here been shown to demonstrate their extraordinary
ability in this direction.



[Illustration: _Photos. Mansell British Museum_


Not only however are we indebted to Ashur-bani-pal for the animal
masterpieces of Assyrian art, but also for one of the few scenes which
give us a glimpse into the private and non-official life of the king
(cf. Pl. XXI). The king is reclining on a magnificently carved couch,
while his queen sits bolt upright on a chair immediately opposite; the
chair is as elaborate in its way as the couch, as is also the stool upon
which her feet repose. In spite of the tropical appearance of the garden
in which the feast is spread, the king is covered with a rug, while the
queen is clad in richly-woven robes which look anything but cool. A
table is set by the side of the couch and in front of the queen’s chair,
upon which are laid the royal dainties. Both their majesties are about
to quaff the ambrosial nectar with which their low but capacious cups
are without doubt filled, but the scene of their banquet is in itself an
appetizer: the thick palm trees, the rich clusters of grapes, and the
hovering birds all adding a stimulus to the royal digestive faculties.
Behind the king stand two attendants with fly-flappers, and another
richly carved table upon which the royal weapons are laid. The queen is
similarly protected by fly-flappers, behind the bearers of which are
other servants laden with oriental luxuries, while in the distance the
musicians are playing their voluptuous eastern melodies. The
instruments are stringed, as are most of the musical instruments
portrayed on Babylonian and Assyrian bas-reliefs, though tambourines,
double-pipes, cymbals, drums and trumpets were also apparently
known.[96] In spite however of all these intoxicating influences, there
remained one other item in the programme—an item which doubtless had the
most stimulating effect of all upon the appetite of the great king, i.e.
the head of Te-umman of Elam, which hangs from a tree in the king’s
immediate line of vision, and no doubt was a most gratifying spectacle
to his majesty.

With Ashur-bani-pal Assyrian art as well as her literature reached its
climax; with him the limits of the empire were extended further than
ever before; but after his reign no slow decadence, but a swift collapse
set in which was alike tragic in its significance and momentous in its
consequences. It is however not altogether unfitting, either in the case
of empires, or in that of individuals, that when the climax is reached,
and the highest possibilities are realized, life should not be prolonged
for retrogressive purposes, and Assyria was in a large degree saved from
this misfortune. The memory of her greatness and of her wide influence
was in no way marred by a long period of decline, her time was up and
her end came, but the reason was to be found rather in those indomitable
circumstances of fate and external environment than in a radical and
internal demoralization. We have no reliefs of the Neo-Babylonian period
worth recording, with the exception of the coloured clay reliefs which
we shall consider in the chapter on painting.



[Illustration: _Photos. Mansell_ _British Museum_



[Illustration: FIG. 32. (_A. J. S. L._, XXI, pp. 59, ff.)]

For the study of early Sumerian sculpture in the round, we unfortunately
have not much material at hand. As has been already stated, both the
Babylonians and Assyrians excelled in bas-relief work rather than in
full rounded sculpture, and what they excelled in, that they practised
most; in spite of this fact however, both peoples were alive to the
superiority of sculpture in the round, but the difficulties involved in
producing work of this kind prevented such work being undertaken save
for exceptional purposes, hence they never attained a very high degree
of excellence in this department of art. Of the earlier Sumerian period
we have hardly any complete statues, and the paucity of such makes those
that have survived the more valuable. One of the most interesting of
these is that of Esar king of Adab (Bismâya), which was discovered
during the course of the American excavations on that site,[97] and is
now preserved in the Imperial Ottoman Museum, Constantinople (cf. Fig.
32). It is made of marble and weighs two hundred pounds. In height it
measures just under thirty-five inches, the circumference of the skirt
being close upon thirty-two inches. The latter is heavily plaited and is
a replica of the garment in which the Sumerians portrayed on the
earliest monuments are always clad. The type of face in like manner
attests its great antiquity; the bald head, the aquiline nose forming a
straight line with the forehead, the triangular eye-sockets which were
at one time inlaid with ivory, all being characteristic features of the
most ancient Sumerian attempts at human portraiture. The king bears an
inscription upon his right shoulder written in a very archaic and
semi-pictorial script, from which we learn the name of the king, and
also of the city over which he ruled. It was discovered at a great
depth below the surface of the mound, among the ruins of a temple
constructed of the small plano-convex bricks characteristic of the
pre-Ur-Ninâ buildings. A particularly interesting feature about this
unique monument is that the arms are free from the body, whereas in
nearly all Mesopotamian statues they are joined up to the sides. The
hands are clasped in front as is the case in so many Sumerian statues
and reliefs of all periods, while the feet are embedded in the pedestal
to enable them to support the short, thick-set and heavy body, which was
apparently a peculiarity of the Sumerian physique.

Unfortunately we have hardly any complete figures of early Sumerian
women, the little stone statuette in Fig. 33 gives us however some idea
of the appearance and dress of women in early Babylonia. Her features
conform to the usual Sumerian type, while her long hair is tied with a
fillet which surrounds her head and gathers up her flowing tresses at
the back.

[Illustration: FIG. 33. (_Déc. en Chald._, Pl. I, _ter._ No. 3.)]

But the three archaic stone heads (cf. Pl. XXII) which were unearthed at
Tellô enable us to form a somewhat more complete estimate of the
artistic ability of the sculptors of that age in regard to the portrayal
of the human face and head. The head on the right closely resembles the
central one, both of which exhibit a more advanced style of art than
that exhibited in the head on the left, which is, however, the most
interesting of the three. It was discovered on the other side of the
Shatt-el-Hai, the canal which connects the Tigris with the Euphrates;
unlike the others, the aquiline nose is perfectly preserved, the eyes
are as usual large and shaped like almonds, and were doubtless at one
time inlaid with shell and coloured, while the lips betray a suppressed
smile; the type of face is exactly the same as that seen on the Vulture
Stele, though the details are of course more precise, as might be
expected from a work in the round.


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell British Museum_



[Illustration: _Musée du Louvre: Déc. en Chald., Pl. 6,


[Illustration: FIG. 34.—A. (Louvre, Cat., p. 217; _Déc. en Chald._, Pl.
6, Fig. 3.) B. (_Comptes Rendus_, 1907, p. 398; _Délég. en Perse Mém._,
X, Pl. 1.) C. (Louvre, Cat., p. 227; _Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 8 (bis), 4.)]

In Fig. 34, A, we have an alabaster head of an early Sumerian woman; the
face belongs to the same type as that to which the male heads in Pl.
XXII conform. The ears, so prominent in the case of the clean-shaven
male heads, are here entirely concealed by the tresses of hair which
hang in thick horizontally streaked lines about her forehead, head and
neck. The hair is kept in its place by means of a fillet fastened at the
back. The large eye-holes must have at one time been inlaid, probably
with lapis lazuli in the case of a woman as here. The eyebrows are
sculptures in relief, and not incised as is the case in other early
Sumerian sculptures.

Other early specimens of Babylonian sculpture are to be found in the
various statues of Manishtusu discovered during the course of the
excavations carried on by the French Mission to Susa, one of which is
reproduced in Fig. 34, B. Manishtusu was a Semitic king of Kish and
probably reigned about 2700 B.C.; the statue here shown is consequently
one of the earliest examples of Semitic sculpture in the round as yet
known, and according to De Morgan[98] is the most ancient work of art as
yet discovered on the old Persian sites. Even at this early date we see
traces of that Semitic conventionalism so prevalent in the later
Assyrian era. The square face, the large eyes, the coiffure and the long
symmetrically arranged beard here seen, all being prominent features in
Assyrian representations of kings and potentates. The pupils of the eyes
were black and were fixed in their sockets by means of bitumen, as was
frequently the case in these early sculptures. The statue is made of
alabaster, and the inscription on the back is written in archaic line

This age was followed by a period during which the sculptor’s art
gradually made itself master of the means at its disposal. This
transition period is well illustrated by an alabaster statuette of a
seated woman reproduced in Fig. 34, C. The advance which the
configuration of her face shows on the archaic head in Fig. 34, A, is at
once obvious: the stereotyped eyes have become less exaggerated and more
natural, the lips are more womanly, the nose less obtrusive. Her long
hair hangs naturally and loosely down her back, while a thick fillet
encircles her head. Her long robe covers the whole of her body from neck
to ankle, and she holds in her hands a round-shaped vase which probably
contains a libation for the gods. This little statuette is just over
seven inches high.

But it was not till the middle of the third millennium B.C. i.e. the
age of Gudea, patesi of Lagash, that sculpture in the round assumed a
prominent part in the artistic life of the people, and it was not till
then that the sculptor seems to have regularly aspired to reproducing
human figures at quasi-life size, fashioning them at the same time out
of the hardest volcanic rocks. In Pl. XXIII, A, B we have reproductions
of two of the decapitated statues found by De Sarzec at Tellô. Eight of
these statues, some of which are in a standing posture, while others are
seated, bear inscriptions of Gudea, patesi of Lagash; one of the
remaining two being inscribed with the name of his predecessor, Ur-Bau.
The majority of these statues are under life-size, but the dimensions of
one of them at least considerably exceed those of an ordinary man. The
statue here represented (Pl. XXIII, A) is the most artistically
conceived of the series; it possesses both grace and force, and shows
very little trace of the conventionalism so noticeable in later Assyrian
sculptures, the feet being the only inanimate and truly conventional
part of the production. The arms are strong and sinewy, but the muscles
are perfectly naturally executed, and contrast very favourably with the
exaggerated muscles of the royal statues of Assyria. The hands are
folded in token of submission to the goddess Nin-harsag, to whom this
statue was seemingly dedicated. Among the epithets applied to this
goddess here, are “Lady of the Mountains,” “protectress of the town and
mother of its inhabitants,” and lastly, “mother of the gods.” This
statue is made of green diorite and is just over four feet high.

In Pl. XXIII, B we have another statue of Gudea, this time seated. The
chief peculiarity about this and its companion statue, both of which are
in the Louvre, lies in the flat tablet which each of them carries on
their knees. On one of these tablets a regular plan of Gudea’s
buildings has been engraved, showing various doors, crenelated towers,
and so forth, together with the carpenter’s rule and stylus, which are
similarly engraved on the knee-tablet of the statue reproduced here. The
most striking feature in the sculpture itself is the boldness with which
the nude limbs are carved, and the nervous vitality with which they
abound. This is especially noticeable in the treatment of the right arm
and shoulder, which the arrangement of the mantle leaves exposed. The
cartouche on the shoulder contains the name and titles of Gudea. The
lengthy inscription below records that this statue has been dedicated to
the goddess Gatumdug, who is styled “the mother of Shirpurla” (=
Lagash), it then treats of the various rites and ceremonies with which
the building of the temple of this goddess was accompanied. This statue,
like the standing one in Pl. XXIII A, is made of diorite. Several of the
heads belonging to these statues have been brought to light, one of
which is seen in Pl. XXIII, C. The head which is decked with a
variegated turban is again remarkable for its strength and the boldness
with which it is executed; the eyes are large and wide open, a
noticeable characteristic in all Mesopotamian art, whether early or
late; the eyebrows are heavy, and the chin firm, while the jaws are
thick-set and make the general contour of the face square. The absence
of due proportion in all these early Babylonian sculptures is at once
manifest: they one and all have a more or less squat appearance, the
breadth being always too great proportionally for the height, while the
head is too large for the body and the latter is too thin from back to
front. But when all the failings incidental to the products of an
inexperienced art are duly taken into consideration, there is a certain
fidelity to nature, and consequently a degree of life observable in the
crudest of these early Babylonian sculptures which at once raises them
to a higher level than the Assyrian statues to which they unconsciously
gave birth. The accentuation of the strong lines and curves of the
earlier sculptures in the later products of Assyrian times, has merely
led to exaggeration, and the effect is inevitably stereotyped and


[Illustration: _Musée du Louvre_




In Pl. XXIII, D, however, we have the upper part of a diorite figure of
a woman belonging to about the same period as Gudea, which has to a
great extent lost the heavy and massive appearance so noticeable in the
statues of the patesi, and possesses both grace and beauty. The dress
will be considered in a subsequent chapter, and it will be sufficient to
here call attention to the singularly natural manner in which the folds
of the garment are represented. During the interval between the epoch
associated with the name of Gudea and that rendered illustrious by
Ashur-naṣir-pal and the Assyrian kings, the practice of sculpturing in
the round appears to have fallen largely into desuetude, if we may judge
from the extreme paucity of the material that has come down to us, and
it is not till the time of the Assyrian Empire that we are able again to
make a detailed study of the sculptor’s art in Mesopotamia.

One of the earliest examples of Assyrian sculpture in the round is
reproduced in Pl. XXIV, B. It is a torso of a female figure, who bears
upon her back an inscription of Ashur-bêl-kala, king of Assyria, whose
reign may be assigned to the first half of the eleventh century B.C. It
was discovered at Kouyunjik, and is now in the British Museum. The size
is somewhat below that of life; but in spite of the fact that the
proportions are bad, the body between the legs and arms being too short,
this sculpture, when compared with the generality of Assyrian attempts
to reproduce human beings, is at once striking for the natural manner
in which the artist’s conception of feminine beauty is realized, and as
such is entirely unique in the realm of Assyrian sculpture.

The remains of another very early Assyrian sculpture[99] in the round
were discovered in the course of the German excavations at Ashur.
Unfortunately the head, hands and feet of this statue are missing, but
the small part of the head which is preserved, though having an
abundance of hair shows no trace of the elaborate curls of later days,
the beard being represented by a series of twelve or more corrugated
strands, thereby recalling the Babylonian statues of the Khammurabi
period. The clothing consists of a close-fitting garment made of a
simple fine-textured material, and is decorated with a fringe.

Of Assyrian royal statues that of Ashur-naṣir-pal (cf. Pl. XXIV, C) is
the best preserved and the most successful. It is made of hard
limestone, and measures three feet four inches in height; it was found
in a broken condition along with the limestone pedestal upon which it
once stood, and it now stands upon the same original pedestal in the
Nimrûd Gallery of the British Museum. The total height of the statue
with the pedestal is five feet eleven and a half inches. Fortunately
none of the fragments of the figure were missing, and consequently it
was possible to restore the statue so perfectly as to render it one of
the finest Assyrian statues in existence. The king stands there, the
very incarnation of impassive dignity and imperturbable majesty, and it
is strange how impressive the motionless can at times be. It would
perhaps be hardly true to employ such words as “life” or “animation” in
attempting to describe this sculpture, but it possesses something even
higher than external vigour and vitality, it has a force, an
indescribable “reserve of strength,” which the absence of anything like
aggressive activity only serves to enhance. The king is clad in long and
elaborately made robes which reach down to his toes. The beard and hair,
both of which are rich and profuse, are curled with much care and
precision. The king holds in his right hand a sickle-shaped object,
which is presumably meant to be a sceptre, while in his left he holds a
mace with a tassel at the lower end. His left arm is concealed by the
fold of his outer mantle, but the right is bare with the exception of a
wrist-bracelet. The type of face bears all the acknowledged Assyrian
characteristics; large, wide-open eyes, a curved nose, and the wealth of
hair to which we have just referred. The proportions are fairly
accurate, though the depth or thickness of the body from back to front
is as usual, not sufficiently great. The king has an inscription carved
upon his breast, the text of which, after having given the name and
genealogy of Ashur-naṣir-pal, goes on to recount the triumphant
achievements of the king in the extension of his dominion over the whole
country between the river Tigris and Lebanon, and concludes by stating
that he has made all the countries from the rising of the sun to the
setting of the sun to submit to his feet.


[Illustration: STATUE OF NEBO



(_From Dieulafoy, “L’Art Antique de la Perse,” Vol. 3. Pl. 12_)]

[Illustration: FIG. 35.—Shalmaneser II. (British Museum.)]

Ashur-naṣir-pal’s son and successor, Shalmaneser II, has bequeathed to
us one of the comparatively few examples of an Assyrian seated figure
sculptured in the round (cf. Fig. 35). The decapitated figure, which is
a representation of Shalmaneser II himself, is made of black basalt, and
it was discovered at Ḳalat Sherḳat (Ashur). The inscription on the
throne, which is partially effaced, gives the name and titles of the
king, enumerates his various conquests in Babylonia, and also contains
an allusion to the statue itself. It is interesting to compare this
figure with the seated and likewise decapitated figures of Gudea a
millennium or so earlier (cf. Pl. XXIII, B). Both are made of a hard
volcanic stone, and the garment in which each of these Eastern rulers is
clad reaches down to the ankles, though the end of Shalmaneser’s skirt
is however decorated with a fringe, while Gudea’s is quite plain. Both
figures are seated on a simple kind of throne such as is very frequently
encountered on cylinder-seals, but there are certain striking points of
difference between the two statues. The Sumerian Gudea has no beard,
while the Semitic king of Assyria has a long square beard, and Gudea’s
arms are moreover clasped in a reverential attitude across his breast,
while Shalmaneser’s arms are apparently resting easily upon his lap. The
feet which in each case rest upon a plinth, are well portrayed in both
figures, though what advantage there is is clearly on the side of the
earlier Babylonian sculpture.

Another good example of Mesopotamian sculpture in the round at about
this time is afforded by the two statues of the god Nebo which were
excavated by Rassam in the ruined temple of Adar at Nimrûd, one of which
is reproduced in Plate XXIV, A. They were made by a certain governor of
the city of Calah (Nimrûd), and were dedicated to the god in the hope of
thereby ensuring length of days to Adad-nirari III, king of Assyria from
812-783 B.C., the queen Sammuramat, and incidentally to himself also.
The mention of Sammuramat is interesting as she is supposed to be the
original of the Semiramis of later Greek and Roman writers. The god is
apparelled in a simple robe confined at the waist, the arms being left
uncovered and free. He wears both a moustache and a beard, the latter
being curled and waved, as is also the long hair of his head. The horned
cap of the gods furnishes his natural head-gear, and his wrists are
encircled with the rosette-patterned bracelets in which both kings and
gods seem to have delighted, while his hands are clasped upon his
breast. The inscription chiselled all round the lower part of his robe,
is chiefly concerned with a rehearsal of all the wonderful attributes
and gracious deeds of Nebo, and ends with an exhortation to all future
generations to put their trust in Nebo, and not in any other god.

But neither the Babylonian nor the Assyrian sculptors confined their
attention to human beings, any more than did the bas-relief artists.
They also attempted the reproduction of animals, mythical or real as the
case may be, with varying degrees of success. The animal that seems to
have more or less monopolized their artistic capacity in this direction
was the lion. We have already seen the important part played by the lion
in the heraldic arms of Lagash, in the coloured decoration of walls, and
in the bas-reliefs which adorned the interiors of Assyrian palaces, as
well as in the decoration of various objects such as mace-heads and
stone bowls, and we are accordingly not surprised to find examples of
the lion realized in hard stone and worked in the round. The early
specimens are for the most part small, and as a rule only the heads are
preserved. The dates of most of these heads are uncertain as there is
generally no inscription, but fortunately there are some exceptions.
Like the majority of the earlier specimens of Sumerian art, they nearly
all come from Tellô and were excavated by M. De Sarzec. One of the best
preserved is reproduced in Fig. 36, A. Only one side of the lion’s head
has survived, but it is sufficient to demonstrate the success with which
the Sumerian sculptor treated his subject. The arrogance and impassive
majesty of the lion are here realized more impressively than is the case
with the lions of many a European artist; this notwithstanding, the
spirit of conventionalism has already crept in as a thief, though it has
as yet only made its presence felt in the hem of the garment so to
speak. The head itself is entirely unmarred by any deteriorating
influence, but the treatment of the mane is in a measure the victim of
the force of habit, which, in spite of the common saying that it is
“second nature,” is as a matter of fact as unnatural as it can be in its
effect upon art. It is formed somewhat after the pattern of the
“_kaunakes_” material used in the manufacture of early Sumerian

[Illustration: FIG. 36.—A (_Déc. en Chald._, Plate 24, I); B, C (after

The remains of another stone lion bearing an inscription of Gudea, from
which we gather that the lion in question formed part of the decoration
of the door through which access was gained to the sanctuary of the
goddess Gatumdug were recovered from the same site. This lion[100] shows
still further the subtle influence of conventionalism in the manner in
which the hair on the lower part of the belly is portrayed, a series of
triangles, such as is often seen in the figures of lions on the
cylinder-seals, representing a fringe of long hair. Many of the
lion-heads discovered at Tellô were provided with holes for the
insertion of a peg, and probably served for lower supports of the back
of thrones. One of these lion-heads is of especial interest as it bears
the name of Ur-Ninâ, the founder of the first dynasty of Lagash,[101]
while a second mentions _Magan_, the uncertain district whence the
Babylonians procured their stone. Another early animal sculpture of some
considerable interest was discovered by Captain Cros at Tellô in 1904
(cf. Fig. 36, B). It represents a recumbent dog—apparently of the
mastiff breed, and identical in species with those figured on
Ashur-bani-pal’s bas-reliefs: the length of the dog is only about four
inches, its height just under three and a half inches, and it is two
inches thick, but the interest attaching to it lies in the fact that it
bears an inscription of one Sumu-ilu, a king of Ur who probably
reigned towards the close of the third millennium B.C., but of whom
little else is known, and whose name had not even been heard of before
the discovery of this little black stone dog. The material used for this
sculpture is steatite, and the dog’s back is pierced with a hole which
served as a stand for a cylindrical steatite vase.

The hole and the vase are apparently of later date than the dog

Another very interesting example of early Babylonian sculpture in the
round is that of a small human-headed bull[103] (cf. Fig. 36, C) now
preserved in the Louvre. It is, as it were, the archetype or prototype
of those winged human-headed bulls and lions placed at the entrances of
palaces to guard against maleficent demons. The pose of the bull is one
that is entirely natural, and recalls the semi-recumbent calves on
Entemena’s silver vase (cf. Figure 45), but the body of the animal lacks
the intense realism of the earlier animal representations. He wears a
long vertically streaked beard, which is flanked on either side by
plaits of hair, and his head is surmounted by a cap with four pairs of

In the centre of his back there is a hole which doubtless once served as
a socket for some votive object or figure as seems so frequently to have
been the case; but the particular interest of this little sculpture lies
in the shell inlay work on the back. The figure itself is made of black
steatite, the inlay work consisting of yellow shell, and we have as a
result a somewhat grotesquely marked bull. Sometimes animals were carved
in wood, a good example of which is the little wooden lion in the
Louvre, but the remains of Babylonian or Assyrian wood-carving are far
too scanty to enable us to undertake a study of their work in this


[Illustration: _Photos, Mansell_

_British Museum_



In later times sculpture in the round, which had never been popular with
the artists of Mesopotamia owing to the obvious difficulty of procuring
the necessary material in the first instance, and in the second to the
nature of the work itself and the obstacles which had to be surmounted
in the realization of that work, went almost entirely out of fashion.
There remain, however, a few examples of sculptured animals to be
considered, among the first and foremost of which are those colossal
human-headed winged-bulls and lions which guarded the entrances of the
palaces of Ashur-naṣir-pal and Sargon (cf. Pl. XXV). They are, it is
true, neither bas-reliefs nor round sculptures, but a combination of the
two, whereby the artist has endeavoured to create a perfectly natural
and complete effect from every point of vision, and his efforts have met
with the success which they deserved. The means he has employed to
produce this satisfactory result is the provision of each of these
extraordinary monsters with a fifth leg, though all these winged
monsters were not so provided, the principal exceptions being the
four-legged bulls in Sennacherib’s palace at Kouyunjik. The difficulty
with which the artist found himself encountered, and which was obviated
by the above-mentioned device, lay in the inability of four legs of
natural proportions to support a stone body of the gigantic size
demanded by the architectural requirements for which these creatures
were destined to be used. In short, a pure round sculpture of a lion or
bull of the portentous size desired was a literal impossibility, and
relief accordingly had to come into play, it being merely a question of
how far the relief should be low or high, and the higher it was the more
it of course approximated to the round, and realized what was presumably
the artist’s real intention. The creation of a satisfactory front view
of these animals involved no difficulty, for the visibility of the two
front legs was all that was necessary, and the drawback of the space
between the legs being occupied with the solid mass of stone which
supported the animal and out of which it was sculptured in high relief,
was comparatively slight and negligible. But the satisfactory portrayal
of the animal from the side aspect was fraught with much greater
difficulty. Normally the two near legs of a quadruped viewed from the
side, by no means exclude the two legs on the off-side from one’s
vision. The artist was clearly conscious of the difficulty which here
confronted him and he has devised an ingenious means, indeed the only
means under the circumstances for surmounting this inherent difficulty.
He has provided the lion or the bull, as the case may be, with a fifth
leg with the satisfactory result that viewed from either standpoint the
animal’s action or inaction is conceived in a perfectly natural fashion.
From the front the winged monster is seen in a stationary attitude, his
two fore legs firmly planted together on the ground, while from the
side, on the other hand, the animal is walking along in an entirely
normal and life-like manner. These winged monsters were placed on either
side of the portals of the king’s palace and they helped to support the
palace walls. But the object which they were supposed to serve, and the
duties which they were expected to perform, were not of the purely
architectural or even of the decorative order, their vocation, though
embracing all these minor functions, involved the fulfilment of yet
higher obligations, for they were destined to ward off the attacks of
malicious spirits from the nether world. Esarhaddon, king of Assyria
from 681-668 B.C. specifically states for what purpose these “shedi” or
“lamassi”—the Assyrian names for these semi-mythical monsters—were
created and made, for example, in one passage—to quote the translation
given by Perrot and Chipiez (p. 266)—Esarhaddon says that “the _shedi_
and _lamassi_ are propitious, are the guardians of my royal promenade
and the rejoicers of my heart, may they ever watch over the palace and
never quit its walls,” and again in another passage he says, “I caused
doors to be made in cypress, which has a good smell, and I had them
adorned with gold and silver and fixed in the doorways. Right and left
of these doorways I caused _shedi_ and _lamassi_ of stone to be set up,
they are placed thereto repulse the wicked.” The front parts of these
monsters always projected beyond the general line of the wall, the human
head and the chest at all events being outside the arch which these
animals supported.


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ British Museum


Sometimes the winged human-headed monster is flanked by a mythical
creature with wings, holding a basket in his left hand, and a cone in
his right (cf. Pl. XXV), at other times he stands in isolated glory
alone. The head is of the familiar type to which one-half of the
Assyrian representations of men so rigidly conform, the type
characterized by a beard, the other type being beardless: all the
royalty and nobility seem to have worn beards, and, according to the
Assyrian sculptors, to have had precisely the same features, the
numerous beardless figures portrayed on the bas-reliefs representing the
humbler classes, and no doubt in some instances eunuchs. The head of
this winged colossus is surmounted by a lofty head-dress richly
decorated with rosettes, and furnished with two pairs of horns, the
ever-present mark of sacro-sanctity. The hair and beard are profuse in
their luxuriance, and elaborate in their dressing, while the tail is
treated with the like punctilious care. Two enormous wings cover the
back, extending their overshadowing protection some way beyond it. The
relief in which the body and specifically the legs are raised is very
high, and they stand out almost in the round. Many of these gigantic
stone animals have been found at Nimrûd, Khorsabad, the capital of
Sargon, and Nineveh.

But although the Assyrians show a marked predilection for mythical
monsters in their large sculptural achievements in the round or
semi-round, they showed themselves capable of conceiving and admirably
realizing animals of the normal order; one of the best examples of an
Assyrian carved animal is the colossal lion of Ashur-naṣir-pal (cf. Pl.
XXVI), which is now in the British Museum and once formed part of an
entrance to a building. This lion is about eight feet high and thirteen
feet long, and bears an inscription like many of the winged human-headed
bulls and lions. The lion also has five legs like so many of the latter.
The head is carved with great boldness and vigour, although it is a
little conventional. The jaws are extended, the upper lip and nostrils
being drawn up, and even an unimaginative person may well fancy he can
hear a deep roar proceeding from that fierce, wide-opened mouth. His
neck is covered with a thick mane and ruffles of stiff hair. To obtain
the best view of the sculpture, the view, that is to say, in which the
spectator will accord the full measure, or even an over-measure, of
justice to the skill of the artist, one must make one’s point of
observation on the side. The front aspect is disappointing, as the lion
is too thin for its length and height, and is consequently deficient not
only in artistic merit, but also in the dignified majesty of which he
has ever been the symbolic incarnation. But in spite of these obvious
drawbacks, the work as a whole compels admiration and inevitably arrests
the attention, for it possesses the “one thing needful”—life. A
comparison between the lion’s head, and that of any of the winged
human-headed monsters, at once demonstrates the point to which allusion
has so frequently been made, the genius which the Assyrians at all times
and all periods show in the delineation of animals, and the contrasting
laboriousness with which all their representations of human faces are
invariably marked. But there is at least one general remark which may
fairly be made of Assyrian sculpture, a remark applicable both to human
as well as animal sculptures, and that is that whether the subject be
natural or mythical, human or bestial, the artist’s product is never
without force and never lacks impressiveness, a quality which in our own
day is generally made conspicuous by its absence. Other interesting
animal-sculptures have been found in Lower Mesopotamia, the most famous
of which is the immense black basalt lion on the Ḳasr mound at Babylon
(cf. Pl. XXVII).


[Illustration: THE KASR LION

(_From Dieulafoy, “L’Art Antique de la Perse,” Vol. 3. Pl. 13_)]

It consists of a lion towering over a nude human being lying on the
ground, the whole piece being made of basalt. The remains of another
stone lion of large proportions were discovered in the course of the
recent German excavations at Babylon; thirty fragments of the dolerite
of which it was composed have been recovered including a portion of one
of the claws, which measures over three inches in length, and proves
that the lion must have been of abnormal size, while its general form
and appearance would seem to indicate a great age.

It is indeed well for us that the æsthetic genius of the Babylonians and
Assyrians should have found expression in durable stone rather than in
some other more perishable material; the difficulties involved in
sculpture are admittedly sufficiently great, and we owe a debt of
gratitude to the perseverance and determination of those ancient
peoples, which led them to conquer and mould for the ultimatization of
their ideas, a material which a less determined and a less persevering
nation might well have shrunk from attacking.


In the art of working metals the Babylonians showed no small degree of
proficiency: evidence has already been given of the way in which metal
was made to contribute her share to the perfected work of the architect,
as also of its employment as a material whereon the scribe might engrave
his comparatively imperishable memorials, but the part which it played
in the history of the country’s art, as well as in the growth of her
civilization, remains to be considered. The metals which appear to have
been most in use among the dwellers in Mesopotamia are copper and
bronze. As in every other country, before metal became known and
utilized in the Euphrates valley, stone was employed as the material for
making knives, axes, and implements of every kind. Various flints were
found by Taylor at Abû Shahrein (Eridu).[104] At Fâra (Shuruppak) also,
numerous flint knives and saws, together with some hatchets and tools
made of the same material, were discovered by the German excavators, and
tools made of bone were further found on the same site. But the copper
age commenced at a very early period in the history of Babylonian
civilization, at a time previous to the appearance of cuneiform, and
while even the earlier picture-signs were still untrammelled by the
stereotyped formalism of later days, copper had already been adapted to
the needs and requirements of humanity.[105]

[Illustration: FIG. 37.—A (Cat., p. 367; _Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 5 tert.
Musée du Louvre.) B (Heuzey, _Une Villa Royale_, Fig. 19.)]

At Ur (Muḳeyyer) Taylor discovered a large copper spear-head and two
arrow-heads made of the same metal, while in the early strata at Tellô,
M. De Sarzec discovered a copper blade some thirty-one and a half inches
in length, and belonging to a votive-lance; unfortunately the name of
the king by whom it was dedicated is lost owing to the oxydization of
the metal, but the title “King of Kish” is still clearly legible, Kish
being one of the most ancient sites of Euphratean civilization (cf. Fig.
37, A). The tang of the blade is pierced with four holes, and one of the
flat surfaces of the blade itself is engraved with the figure of a lion,
crude indeed, but spirited. This unique object was found at a great
depth, and only six inches above the stratum in which the architectural
remains of Ur-Ninâ were buried. Not far distant, De Sarzec discovered an
immense hollow pipe of beaten copper (cf. Fig. 37, B) over ten feet long
and having a diameter of four inches; a number of copper nails by means
of which this long tube was fastened to a wooden pole being also found.
The pipe itself tapers upwards and the top of it is crowned with a
hollow ball of hardened bitumen, a little below which there is a large
semicircular handle, or what purports to be a handle, consisting in a
hollow tube and likewise made of copper. The use to which this strange
implement was put is unknown, but it is exactly reproduced on some of
the early cylinder-seals as well as on the well-known vase of Gudea.
Various suggestions have been made as to the purpose which it served;
one theory is that it is a chariot pole, another that it is a part of a
standard, but the former is ruled out of court by the position which it
occupies on the seals and on the aforementioned vase. The latter,
however, may be near the truth.

Among the earliest specimens of Babylonian metallurgy may be mentioned a
number of very small copper representations of animals in a crouching
attitude, and all apparently belonging to the domestic order, though in
some cases they are so covered with vert-de-gris that it is difficult to
determine with precision what animals they are intended to represent.
They are probably to be regarded as sacrificial offerings to the gods,
being in fact economical substitutes for actual victims. They were found
by De Sarzec in the lowest and therefore earliest strata of the ruined
mounds of Tellô. Another class of metal objects to which we must also
assign a date earlier than the time of Ur-Ninâ, the founder of the first
dynasty of Lagash, comprises a number of copper statuettes, all much the
same in shape, contour and style, though not in size. They all show a
woman’s bust, her hands clasped across her chest, and her hair hanging
about her neck like a heavy wig, while the waviness of the hair is
indicated by strongly-marked horizontal lines (cf. Figure 38, C). The
style at once recalls the figures on the crude bas-reliefs belonging to
the same period. A further peculiarity of these little figures is the
manner in which they all terminate in the point of a nail, by means of
which they were destined to be fixed in the ground with a view to
deterring the advance of demons from the nether world.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.—A, C (cf. Cat., p. 295). Musée du Louvre. B (cf.
_Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 2 tert., No. 3).]

So too Ur-Ninâ employed copper extensively as the material for his
votive statuettes. A number of these statuettes were found at Tellô by
De Sarzec; they all exhibit much the same characteristics as the earlier
figures referred to above, and represent a woman whose hands are clasped
across her breast, and whose hair hangs down her back in strongly marked
perpendicular streaks, while the body similarly finds its termination in
a nail-point destined to be stuck in the ground (cf. Fig. 38, A). But
the chief point which distinguishes Ur-Ninâ’s statuettes from those
belonging to the earlier period lies in the additional rôle which they
were expected to play; not only were they protective amulets, but they
were also required to carry stone tablets on their heads. To enable them
to bear their burden the more easily, they were fixed into a kind of
flat ring, the end of which was made to resemble the tail of a bird,
which thus assisted the head in its otherwise arduous task (cf. Fig. 38,
B). Five of these little figures still carried on their heads a thick
tablet of greyish stone, convex on the uppermost side, like the bricks
of this same king. They were generally found buried in hollows about
twenty-eight inches in breadth, length, and height, and walled in with
bricks and bitumen. Later on in the dynasty the practice of providing
these statuettes with bird-tailed rings to assist in supporting the
inscribed stone tablet appears to have fallen into disuse; at all events
the statuettes of Entemena, the fourth successor of Ur-Ninâ, show no
such rings; the alabaster tablets are simply bored with holes, into
which the head of the statuette was firmly inserted.

Another class of copper statuettes of somewhat later date is that
comprising the so-called “Kanephores” or basket-carriers. The oldest of
these likewise come from Tellô: they are sometimes male, sometimes
female figures, but they all carry baskets on their heads. One of them
is seen in Fig. 39, B. In this case the garment is arranged in such a
manner as to show the formation of the legs. The inscription informs us
that this statuette was dedicated by Gudea to Nin-girsu. Regarding the
assumed contents of the baskets it is impossible to dogmatize: possibly
they are supposed to contain offerings, but De Sarzec regarded these
figures as representations of the patesi himself, conveying clay in the
sacred basket for the construction of the temple.

The directions issued by the god Nin-girsu to Gudea in a dream regarding
the building of his temple, have direct reference to a symbolical action
which certainly has a close resemblance to that in which these
Kanephorous figures appear to be engaged. Gudea was presented with a
sacred brick on a cushion, which, after the performance of various rites
and ceremonies, he placed upon his head and carried to the temple—an
outward and visible sign of his obedience to the divine will and of his
determination to restore the time-honoured fane of his god. But whatever
the correct interpretation of these Kanephorous figures be, they
certainly recall the task in which Ur-Ninâ is engaged on the famous
bas-relief in which he is portrayed surrounded by his family and the
court (cf. Fig. 26).

Another of the same class of figures and also reproduced in Heuzey and
De Sarsec’s monumental work, bears an inscription of Dungi, king of Ur
(_circ._ 2400 B.C.), but the lower limbs instead of being modelled out,
are in the form of a cone; the other statuette illustrated on the same
plate[106] is on the contrary very carefully modelled, and is clad in a
short garment reaching to the knees, but unfortunately bears no

[Illustration: FIG. 39.—A, B, C (cf. Cat., pp. 315, 307, 301; Nos. 164,
158, 146). Musée du Louvre.]

Some centuries later the Elamite conquerors, Kudur-Mabug and his son
Rîm-Sin, who established their supremacy over the whole of Sumer and
Akkad and maintained their position till Khammurabi, the then king of
Babylon, defeated Rîm-Sin in his thirty-first year, caused their names
to be inscribed on similar statuettes (cf. Fig. 39, A).

The figure here reproduced is that of a woman; her garment, which is of
the nature of a skirt, allows us no view of the feet, and itself tapers
downwards and recalls the earlier nail-pointed statuettes. The nudity of
the bust, and the absence of hair on the head, are indications that the
woman in question is a slave, and her vocation was probably to assist in
the building of the temples of the gods. In style this figure is more
boldly executed than the earlier statuette of Gudea seen in Fig. 39, B.
It bears an inscription in which mention is made of Kudur-Mabug and his
son Rîm-Sin.

Sometimes male Kanephores occur, a good example of which is preserved in
the British Museum; it came from Tellô like so many of these early works
of art. Another excellent specimen was presented some few years ago to
the Berlin Museum; it is rather more than ten inches in height, and
bears a very clearly written Sumerian inscription; the names of
Kudur-Mabug and Rîm-Sin occur, and the statuette was dedicated “for the
preservation of life,” as was always the case with these votive-figures.

Another interesting class of copper figures was further discovered by
De Sarzec at Tellô: it consisted in a number of small statuettes most of
which were dedicated by the patesi Gudea; each is in a kneeling posture
and holds a cone between his hands, while the head-dress consists in the
horned cap characteristic of all Mesopotamian deities, whether early or
late. These little figures are about eight or nine inches high. The
cones are inscribed with a votive inscription, and the cones themselves
must probably be regarded as religious symbols. Cones made of clay or
stone belonging to this period are common enough, their occurrence
however in copper and in immediate contact with the statue of a human
being is very rare. A plain long copper cone measuring 1 foot 1-1/2
inches in length, and bearing an archaic inscription, is now preserved
in the British Museum, this is however an exception, metal cones being,
on their rare occurrence in Babylonian art, in nearly all cases
associated with human or quasi-divine figures.

One of the best and also earliest examples of these copper
cone-statuettes is that of Ur-bau (_circ._ 2500 B.C.) patesi of Lagash,
now preserved in the Louvre, and reproduced in figure 39, C. This figure
was found enclosed in a clay vase in the bottom of which three holes had
been bored, and it was accompanied by a fine white marble tablet, the
inscription upon which is a kind of résumé of the text found on the
statue of this patesi. The god is kneeling on one knee, and his hands
are fixed firmly on an elongated cone which resembles the nail-pointed
terminations of the earlier figures. The head-dress consists in the
horned cap. The features are full of expression and force in spite of
their heaviness, and the statuette as a whole shows a great advance on
the artistic products of the time of the first dynasty of Lagash, and
also compares very favourably with the later work of Gudea’s time.

Among other early copper objects of interest we may especially mention
two bulls’ heads the casting of which is not solid, as is the case with
all the figures hitherto referred to, but hollow, and a curious vase,
all found together at Tellô in the stratum immediately above that
representing the age of Ur-Ninâ.[107] The bulls’ heads (cf. Fig. 40, A)
are practically identical in type though not in size; the horns are long
and the muzzle short, but notwithstanding their crudeness these heads are
full of vitality, and are not without a charm of their own. The larger of
the two, which is seen in Fig. 40, A, has its eyes inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, while the pupils of the eyes are made of lapis lazuli;
it is some seven and a half inches high (including the horns), the
smaller head being only five and a half inches in height.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.—A, C, D (Musée du Louvre) Cat., pp. 318, 310,
324. B (from Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 540). E (from Harper, _A. J.
S. L._, XX, p. 266).]

At Fâra an exquisite head of a Markhur goat was discovered (cf. Fig. 40,
B); the head itself is made of copper, but the eyes were made of shell,
the white of them being represented by white shell, and the pupils by
dark brown. Between the eyes there is a three-cornered ornament of
mother-of-pearl inlaid with white and brown shells. The gazelle’s neck
is hollow, and its head was attached to a wooden body overlaid with

Another interesting representation of the animal world in metal, has
been bequeathed to us by Dungi, king of Ur, and consists in a bull
reclining on the top of a long nail (cf. Fig. 40, C). The bull recalls
the sacrificial animal portrayed on the little sculptured block
reproduced in Fig. 27. The horns are short as there, but the thick neck
and inflated throat at once give us the idea of a bellowing bull, the
attitude being wonderfully natural, and the whole work full of vigour
and animation. It is about twenty-six inches in height.

In Fig. 40, D[108] we have an illustration of another little metal bull,
the metal in this case being bronze—an indication of a somewhat later
date—and the posture a standing one. The place of its discovery is
uncertain, but as M. Heuzey says, it shows no trace of hard Assyrian
conventionalism, but on the contrary has all the characteristics proper
to early Babylonian art. The bull, which is twelve inches in height and
thirteen inches in length, stands on a narrow plinth to the bottom of
which a nail was apparently fixed, recalling the nail-pointed statuettes
from Tellô. The particular interest of this little figure lies in the
fact that it is inlaid with silver, the object of which was clearly to
represent the markings of a certain breed of bulls. The eyes were once
inlaid with this metal, and the thin plates of silver with which the
body of the animal was inlaid are still in place. This little figure
thus proves that the Babylonians had not only acquired the art of
inlaying objects made of stone, but also those that were made of metal.

Among other early Babylonian representations of animals in metal, may be
mentioned a “bronze lion-headed object” (cf. Fig. 40, E) discovered at
Bismâya.[109] The spike itself, apart from the lion, measures nineteen
inches. As it was found over eight feet below a platform of plano-convex
bricks, its antiquity must be very great, and in the light of subsequent
research it may probably be assumed that it is bronze only in
appearance, like so many of the products of early Sumerian metallurgy,
any alloy there may be in the copper being at this date accidental and
not intentional. The lion is crude, but the artist’s inexperience has
not prevented him from producing an animal both natural in its pose, and
therefore artistic in its effects.

Various other objects and weapons made of copper have been discovered at
Nippur, Fâra, Tell Sifr, and other Babylonian sites, and they include
hammers, knives, daggers, hatchets, fetters, mirrors, fish-hooks,
net-weights, spear-heads, vases, dishes and caldrons, the weapons
sometimes having rivets for wooden handles, which have long since

The moulds in which all these copper objects, both hollow and solid,
were cast were probably made of clay, though in later times stone was
frequently used as a material for making moulds for metal-casting, and
various examples of such moulds made of steatite, wherein were cast
ear-rings and other articles of jewellery, are now in the British
Museum, while at the same late period bronze itself seems to have been
employed, and bronze moulds for arrow-heads are still extant. But there
is no evidence for the use of either stone or metal moulds among the
Sumerians, and it is to their use of clay moulds that we must doubtless
ascribe, at least in part, the extraordinary animation which these early
Babylonian figures exhibit, for obviously the fashioning of the head of
a bull or of a human being in clay would be a comparatively easy work to
chiselling it in stone, and the work would consequently lack the heavy
laboriousness which is so often the outstanding characteristic of early
stone sculptures. The copper remains of this age are far from being as
ample as one might wish, but many weapons, tools and other objects which
must undoubtedly have been made of metal, and therefore probably of
copper at this time, are portrayed on some of the earliest Babylonian
reliefs and seals, and give us some idea of the extensive use which the
Babylonians of this remote period must have made of metal, and of the
numerous purposes for which they employed it. Sometimes it would appear
that instead of fashioning the required objects by means of moulds, they
relied entirely on the hammer: evidence of this was forthcoming by the
discovery of a portion of the horn of an ox by De Sarzec at Tellô.
Unfortunately no other part of the animal to which this horn belonged
was brought to light, but the horn is life-size and well made. The core
consisted of wood upon which the copper plates were fixed by means of
small nails.

The exact time when the Mesopotamians acquired and practised the art of
adding a percentage of tin to the copper, thereby making it bronze—a
metal possessed of greater strength than copper—is not known, but a
judgment based on the evidence afforded by the cases which have been
actually chemically analysed, would indicate that the artificial
combination of copper and tin was not known till the Assyrian era, and
that any percentage of tin or antimony found in the copper objects of
earlier date is a natural and not an artificial alloy. It is however
worthy of note that apparently as early as the time of Bur-Sin, king of
Ur (_circ._ 2400 B.C.), the art of mixing metals was not unknown. At all
events a copper statuette of the Kanephorous order, and bearing an
inscription of this king, contains an alloy of lead, the percentage of
lead being as much as eighteen per cent. But with the rise of Assyrian
power, bronze gradually supplanted copper; copper was indeed still used,
and Esarhaddon, for example, informs us that he made the doors of one of
the palaces which he erected for himself, of cypress wood, and that he
further overlaid them with silver and copper; it was also used for
subordinate purposes, as for example in the manufacture of colour,[111]
but it ceased to occupy an important place in the life of the people,
though of course as the principal contributor to the artificially
composed bronze it was still used extensively, though in a less
conspicuous manner.

A good example of the use of bronze in the early Assyrian period is to
be found in a scimitar (cf. Fig. 41, A) bearing an inscription of
Adad-nirari I, king of Assyria about 1325 B.C. The whole length of the
sword is just over twenty-one inches, the length of the blade being
sixteen inches, and that of the hilt about five, while its width varies
from just over one to just under two inches. The sword was evidently a
ceremonial one, and possibly was at one time placed in the hand of a
god’s statue; its hilt was apparently jewelled and inlaid with
ivory,[112] and it resembles that found by Macalister at Gezer in
Southern Palestine. It is interesting to compare the scimitar of
Adad-nirari with the sword found by Andrae at Ashur (cf. Fig. 41, B)
from which it differs entirely in character and design, the latter being
perfectly straight. Another interesting discovery made by Andrae on the
same site is a bronze axe (cf. Fig. 41, C), which is quite modern in its
appearance, and is not unlike a short-handled ice-axe.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.—A (cf. _T. S. B. A._, vol. IV, Pl. 2, p. 347). B
(cf. Andrae, _Der Anu-Adad Tempel_, p. 53).]


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ _British Museum_


Many other weapons, implements, dishes, bowls and rings of bronze were
discovered at Nineveh, Nimrûd and elsewhere. In Plate XXVIII, we have a
bronze ox-hoof, which apparently formed the leg of a throne,—and two
other bronze fittings of a throne. Below are two of the bronze
lion-weights from Nimrûd. Many of these weights are inscribed in
cuneiform with the names of the kings in whose reigns they were made,
e.g. Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmaneser IV and Sennacherib, the amounts they
weighed being inscribed in Phœnician. They were possibly made by
Phœnician immigrants. The specific gravity required in the case of each
weight was normally arrived at by chiselling pieces off the base, but in
one case, the gravity had to be increased and not diminished, and this
was effected by filling the hollow body of the lion with lead, until it
weighed the necessary amount. Immediately above the head of the larger
of the two lions here represented, we see the bronze head of a
Babylonian demon.

Assyrian bronze generally contains one part of tin to ten of copper, but
in the case of the bronze bells found by Layard at Nimrûd (one of which
is reproduced in Plate XXVIII), it was found by analysis that the
percentage of tin was about fourteen. This was doubtless to make their
ring more resonant. The bells in question vary in size, the largest
being about three and a quarter inches in height and two and a quarter
in diameter,[113] while the smallest is one and three-quarter inches
high and one and a quarter inches in diameter. The clappers of these
bells are made of iron.

But the bronze dishes from Nimrûd show the Assyrian metal-engravers’
work perhaps at its highest, and offer more material for the study of
that branch of Assyrian metallurgy than any other class of objects. The
general style of decoration to which they conform is that determined by
concentric circles cutting up the upper surface of the dish into so many
registers, though sometimes nearly the whole of the field is occupied
with one scene. The figures portrayed frequently exhibit a very strong
Egyptian influence, and are sometimes entirely Egyptian in design.

In Plate XXIX we have a reproduction of one of the best preserved of
these bronze dishes found by Layard at Nimrûd. The griffins which occupy
the principal place in the scheme of decoration are entirely Egyptian in
conception, while they further wear on their heads the familiar double
crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The front left hoof of each griffin
rests in an almost parental fashion upon the head of a child, who is
also clearly Egyptian. Both before, between and behind the griffins,
tapering columns such as are frequently found in Egyptian architecture
are observable, and in the centre of the space separating the back of
one griffin from the back of the nearest animal in the adjoining group,
there is a more substantial pillar, the capital of which is shaped to
represent a winged scarab. The animals are all beaten out in relief, but
the finely chased circles of fleurettes which form the sole decoration
of the centre, are the work of the engraver.


[Illustration: _Photo. Mansell_ _British Museum_


[Illustration: FIG. 42. (After Layard.)]

In Fig. 42 on the other hand we have a dish also made of bronze, and
found on the same site as the one described above, but it betrays not
the slightest trace of Egyptian influence. The motif is one frequently
employed in Mesopotamia; the decoration of circular objects by
consecutive chains of animals following each other round in a circle was
no invention of the Assyrians, for it may be traced back to the earliest
Sumerian times. It occurs on the famous silver vase of Entemena (cf.
Fig. 45) as well as on the stone mace-head of Mesilim (cf. Fig. 26),
which is decorated with a group of wonderfully life-like lions pursuing
each other round the mace. In the innermost circle, a troop of gazelles,
such as are often seen depicted on cylinder-seals (cf. Fig. 51), march
along in file; the middle register forms the circus for a variety of
animals all marching in the same direction as the gazelles. A bull, a
winged griffin, an ibex and a gazelle, are followed by two bulls who are
being attacked by lions, and a griffin, a bull, and a gazelle, who are
all respectively being attacked by leopards. In the outermost zone there
is a stately procession of realistically conceived bulls marching in the
opposite direction to the animals parading in the two inner circles, and
thus relieving the otherwise aggressive monotony of the decorations. The
preservation of the handle by which it was held or suspended is an
additional point of interest. Unfortunately these platters bear no
cuneiform inscriptions, though a few of them contain an inscription
written in Phœnician characters on the reverse, which is probably an
indication that they were fashioned by Phœnician artists, if they were
not actually made in Phœnicia itself. As has been already stated, some
of the dishes under consideration are clearly Assyrian in art and
conception, while others are as certainly Egyptian, but notwithstanding
this fact, there is evidence to show that those betokening the greatest
Egyptian influence did not originate in Egypt, and were probably not the
work of Egyptian artists. One of these dishes for example is decorated
with a circle of cartouches containing Egyptian hieroglyphs: but the
hieroglyphs are placed together quite haphazard, they mean nothing, and
this fact alone would suggest that the artist, whoever he was, was not
an Egyptian but a plagiarist.

The varying and distinct styles of art to which the decorations of these
different dishes conform, are illustrated again in an equally
conspicuous manner in the carved ivories, which were discovered on the
same site and in the same palace.

As has been already seen, engraving was not the only manner in which the
Assyrians utilized metal for artistic and pictorial purposes; they also
learned to excel in metal repoussé work, a process whereby the figures
are beaten out in relief on the reverse, though they are sometimes
finished off with a graver on the right side. The bronze gate-bands
discovered by Rassam at Balâwât are by far the largest and most
important monument of this branch of Assyrian metallurgy. Balâwât is
situated about fifteen miles south-east of Nineveh, and on this site
Rassam discovered the remains of four pairs of large folding-doors. Of
two pairs of these doors the cedar-wood backing still remained, but all
that remained of the other two were the bronze bands which were nailed
on to the doors themselves for decorative purposes. These bands were
fashioned and affixed to the wooden doors by Shalmaneser II, king of
Assyria from 860 to 825 B.C. The largest of these doors was nearly
twenty-two feet in height, six feet in width and three inches thick.
Each of these doors was attached to a rounded post, the diameter of
which was about eighteen inches, and the foot of which was covered with
bronze with a view to facilitating its revolution in the stone
gate-socket which was destined to hold it and the affixed door.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.—Bronze gate-band from Balâwât. (British

[Illustration: FIG. 44.—Bronze gate-band from Balâwât. (British

In Fig. 43 we have a reproduction of a portion of one of these bands. In
the upper register we have a procession of foot-soldiers armed with
maces, swords, bows and quivers, and also a charioteer, all in
attendance on the king, who goes before; in the lower register a number
of chariots are seen crossing a river by means of a bridge of boats. The
whole is beaten out in relief on the reverse, with the exception of
fine lines representing the horses’ trappings or the decoration of
garments. Strange to say, the reins of the chariot horses on these
gate-sheaths are sometimes raised in relief by the repoussé method,
sometimes on the other hand they are incised. At the top and bottom of
each register a row of the ubiquitous rosettes are introduced as a
decorative accessory, and the nails which fastened the metal bands to
the woodwork transfixed the rosettes. In Fig. 44 we have another scene
in which is represented the capture of a certain city called Dabigu. The
centre of the upper register is occupied with a representation of the
Assyrian camp, within which the king is seen seated before the royal
pavilion and attended by two eunuchs, while behind the camp there is
another band of eunuchs, and in front to the right of the register there
is a detachment of bowmen. Below, the assault of the city “by the
assault of engines and the attack of foot soldiers and mines and
breaches”[114] is vividly represented. The city itself has apparently an
outer and an inner wall, both of which are crenelated as usual. The
outer wall has an arched gate to the left, while within the city there
are various conical shaped objects which recall the domed and conical
roofs seen in Fig. 9. Three archers are defending the inner wall of the
city, while only one archer and another warrior remain at their posts on
the outer wall, the lower part of which appears to be speedily
succumbing to the irresistible attack of the battering-ram. The latter
has six wheels and seems to bear a kind of platform on which some
Assyrian soldiers have taken their stand and from which they are
discharging their unerring shafts; behind are a troop of archers
actively engaged though very passively portrayed, as is always the case
with Assyrian representations of human beings.[115]

In the recent excavations conducted by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft
at Ashur, bronze plates for overlaying and decorating doors, precisely
similar to those found by Rassam at Balâwât, were brought to light.

But bronze found its natural sphere of use in the necessities of daily
life, and afforded a first-class material wherefrom to fashion knives,
tools, swords, and implements of all kinds; many of these have been
brought to light by Layard and other excavators, while without doubt the
innumerable spears, swords, shields and arrows depicted on the Assyrian
bas-reliefs were made of this metal. It was used also in the manufacture
of personal ornaments, such as finger rings and bracelets. Bronze was
similarly used in Babylonia during the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, and was
employed for building as well as for other purposes; doorsteps were
sometimes made of bronze, and one such bronze step bearing an
inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. above, p. 131) is preserved in the
British Museum. It is interesting to note the discovery of similar
bronze doorsteps by the French excavators at Susa, especially bearing in
mind the close relationship which existed between the two countries and
peoples throughout their history, though unfortunately Mesopotamia has
at present offered no parallel to the life-size statue in bronze of
Napir-asu, the wife of Untash-gal king of Elam about 1600 B.C. A small
bronze plaque bearing in relief the four-winged demon of the south-west
winds was discovered by Layard, and is now preserved in the British
Museum (No. 86262), while a statuette of the same picturesque creature
and made of the same material now adorns the galleries of the Louvre.
The demon in question is of a highly composite character like so many of
the Babylonian and Assyrian genii. His body resembles that of a dog, his
arms find their natural or unnatural termination in lion’s claws, his
head is a caricature of a human skeleton, which is in its turn crowned
with the horns of a goat, his tail is that of a scorpion, and his back
is protected with four huge wings, which in their extended position form
a grim and fitting background to the whole. But this demon, hideous as
it is, was constructed for distinctly beneficent purposes, and was used
as a talisman. One perhaps might not have at once conjectured that this
fascinating personage was really the embodiment of the south-west wind,
but fortunately he bears an inscription on his back which removes all
doubt on the point. He was destined to be suspended from the door or
window of a house in order to scare away any spirits of evil or doubtful
intentions. The figure is unnatural in its conception, but it is grimly
realistic and full of life, if not life-like, and in some ways recalls
the hideous wicker-work and feather-covered war-gods of the Hawaiians.

Gold has not been found as frequently as one could wish in the course of
Babylonian and Assyrian excavations; doubtless this is in part due to
the depredations of booty-hunters, but it is nevertheless an indication
that it was only used for exceptional purposes as is indeed the case
with us to-day. It was regularly used for commercial transactions; a
good example of its use in this connection is afforded by a tablet
belonging to the Kassite period, the text of which is to be found in
Vol. XIV (40) of the University of Pennsylvania’s publication.[116] A
woman agrees to adopt a girl, tend her during life, and after death
offer libations of water for the repose of her soul, and as
consideration she receives the sum of seven shekels of gold. One of the
earliest pieces of gold actually discovered in Babylonia is the narrow
strip inscribed with the name of Narâm-Sin of Agade, to which we have
already had occasion to allude (cf. p. 103).

But gold was also employed for decorative purposes; at Abû Shahrein
(Eridu) for example, Taylor found various fragments of gold on the base
of the second storey of the ziggurat,—apparently the remains of the
ornamentation of the sanctuary which doubtless crowned the tower;
gold-headed nails and fragments of gold leaf were also found on the same
site. In the course of the recent excavations at Ashur, a representation
of lightning in gold, about a foot and a half in length, which doubtless
was once in the grasp of the hand of a life-size statue of Adad, the
storm-god, was brought to light. The handle was made of wood, but was
covered with a thin sheath of pure gold. The three-pronged end, of which
only two remain, was welded to this covering. The whole is said to weigh
about 290 grains, 250 of which represent the weight of the gold. At
Babylon, the most famous of all the cities in the Euphrates valley, gold
was employed with great prodigality. As early as the first dynasty of
Babylon it was used in the service of the gods, and Sumu-la-ilu, the
second king of this dynasty, built a throne of gold and silver for the
great lord Marduk,[117] while the statues of the gods themselves were
frequently made wholly or in part of pure gold; thus for example
Nabû-aplu-iddina, king of Babylon _circ._ 870 B.C., tells us that he
carefully prepared the image of Shamash, the Sun-god, with pure gold and
lapis lazuli, while the famous statue of Marduk of Babylon would also
appear to have been made of pure gold.

The temple of E-sagil erected at Babylon in honour of this same god was
covered with gold, silver and precious stones by Ashur-bani-pal,[118]
king of Assyria from 668 to 626 B.C. Yet later Nebuchadnezzar added his
contribution to the great work of restoration; he built a certain
magnificent chamber called Ekua, the walls of which he made of pure
gold, and the cedar-wood roof of which he also covered with the same
precious metal, while he similarly decorated the cedar-wood roof of
Nabû’s shrine with gold. Gold was further used for personal adornment;
in the Amran mound at Babylon, which represents the site of the
world-renowned E-sagil, a gold ear-ring was found upon a platform
composed of bricks bearing the name of Nebuchadnezzar, and therefore
possibly belonging to his time, while a plate of gold was also found in
the same neighbourhood, and rings of gold are perpetually mentioned in
Babylonian and Assyrian literature.

Many golden face-masks, ear-rings, necklaces and other pieces of
jewellery have been found in Babylonia, but for the most part their date
is uncertain, the only certainty about them being their comparative
lateness: they may probably be assigned to the Sassanidian period, and
consequently their treatment will be outside the scope of the present

[Illustration: FIG. 45.—(Cf. Cat., p. 372; _Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 43.)
(Musée de Louvre.)]

Silver was also used for much the same purposes as those for which gold
was employed. The finest and at the same time the earliest specimen of
the Babylonian silversmith’s art has been bequeathed to us by Entemena,
one of the more famous rulers of the first dynasty of Lagash, and takes
the form of a magnificent silver vase. This renowned vase (cf. Fig. 45)
is some twenty-eight inches in height, and rests upon a copper base
seven inches high, while the largest diameter is eighteen inches. The
copper base is supported by four feet resembling the paws of lions, and
on the centre of the vase just above two of these feet, is engraved the
lion-headed eagle with outstretched wings whose two claws firmly grip
the backs of two lions facing in opposite directions, a motif frequently
found on the works of art belonging to the period of the first dynasty
of Lagash, and representing the heraldic arms of that ancient city.
Above the other two feet of the base the motif is slightly varied, the
two lions being exchanged in one case for two deer, in the other for two
goats. Each lion is engaged in putting its teeth into the mouth of the
deer or the goat of the adjoining group, the whole thus forming a
continuous chain admirably suited for the decoration of a circular vase.
The lion-headed eagles and their submissive animals, are separated from
the upper and lower portions of the vase by means of a double fish-bone
line; upon the upper part of the vase are seven heifers all facing in
the same direction, and all in a semi-reclining attitude, one of their
fore-legs being raised preparatory to standing up; these heifers are
marvellously life-like and true to nature, and already we seem to see in
them the forerunners of those masterpieces of Assyrian art which adorned
the palace walls of Ashur-bani-pal. This scene of country life was
evidently very popular at this period, it occurs on the little
sculptured block seen in Fig. 27, as well as elsewhere. But success in
the reproduction of animal life at this epoch seems to have been largely
conditioned by the artist’s abstention from trying to depict the animals
full-face; when he aspires to the latter the result is amazingly
stereotyped and formal, and a comparison between the lion-headed eagles
and the lions on the one hand, and these spirited heifers, at once
reveals the contrast, as well as the cause of the contrast. The artist
himself was evidently conscious of his failure, for he has striven, but
it must be admitted without much success, to impart life to his lions
and lion-headed eagles by elaborating the wings of the one and the mane
of the other by means of an altogether extravagant amount of detailed
attention. The inscription round the neck informs us that this vase was
dedicated by Entemena, the fourth successor of Ur-Ninâ, to the god
Nin-girsu in his temple Eninnu, during the priesthood of one Dudu, whose
name also occurs on the little sculptured block (cf. Fig. 27), thus
proving the contemporaneity, which the style of art to which the
decorations on both conform would have independently led us to infer.

But silver sometimes played a subsidiary, though nevertheless from the
artistic point of view an essential part in the decoration of metal
figures: a good example of the latter is afforded by a bronze figure of
a bull, already referred to (cf. Fig. 40, D).

It is somewhat uncertain whence they obtained their silver; in a letter
of Lu-enna to Enitarzi, a ruler who apparently flourished shortly after
the first dynasty of Lagash, silver is mentioned as forming part of the
booty taken from Elam, and in later times it was one of the principal
items of tribute exacted by the Assyrian kings from their vassal
princes, and as such, is frequently mentioned on the Black Obelisk of
Shalmaneser II. The excavations have yielded very few relics made of
this material, the reason again being probably due to the predatory
raids of booty-hunters. Of smaller objects belonging to the Assyrian
period may be mentioned a silver bell with a bronze clapper, a silver
ring set with a garnet, and a silver bracelet, all in the British
Museum, but the dates of these are unfortunately quite uncertain. That
it was used extensively, however, is shown not only by the important
place which it occupies in the tribute brought by subject tribes and
peoples, but also by the allusions made to this metal in the royal
inscriptions. Thus Esarhaddon informs us that he covered the doors of
one of his palaces with this precious metal. Idols were also sometimes
made of silver as well as of gold, to both of which classes
Tiglath-Pileser I makes allusion in one of his inscriptions.[119]

With two of the so-called “baser metals” we have already had occasion to
deal at some length, owing to the important part they played in the
civilization of the Babylonians and Assyrians, but we have tangible as
well as linguistic evidence of their acquaintance with and utilization
of other metals as well as gold, silver, copper and bronze. It has been
shown that lead was sometimes used as an alloy, but it was sometimes
used in its unmixed state; a very interesting example of its use in this
latter condition is to be found in a gate-socket now preserved in the
British Museum. The socket itself is made of bronze, but it is set in
solid lead. The date of this unique object is uncertain, but it may
probably be assigned to the Assyrian era. Few leaden objects have as
yet been yielded by the excavations, though it is frequently mentioned
as forming part of the tribute of subject peoples, and we know that it
was used in the manufacture of colours, as well as being placed inside
the hollow lion-weights found at Nimrûd to add the specific gravity
required. In Egypt lead would appear to have been known and used at a
very early period, judging from the little statuette in the British
Museum, which apparently dates from about the time of the First Dynasty,
and is said to be made of solid lead.

Iron was first known to the Babylonians in its meteoric state, for its
designation is AN-BAR, which signifies “stone of heaven.” Allusions to
objects made of this metal are very frequent in the inscriptions of
Assyrian kings. Tiglath-Pileser I for example makes reference to a
certain lance of iron, and Shalmaneser II to the point of an iron
dagger, while both the latter king and Adadnirari III mention iron as
forming part of the tribute they received from their vassal-kings. A
century later Tiglath-Pileser III records that he put iron chains upon a
certain Zaquriu and his followers, while a hundred years after,
Ashur-bani-pal refers to an iron dagger overlaid with gold.[120]

Place found a number of iron axe-heads, knives and other implements at
Khorsabad, while Layard discovered a bracelet, a lock-plate, some
spear-heads, two reaping-hooks, rings and staples, axe-heads,
arrow-heads, finger-rings and a part of a helmet, all made of iron, in
the north-west palace at Nimrûd. An interesting specimen of oriental
ironwork was found at Babylon by the German excavators in the shape of
an iron rod beautifully decorated with a series of polished ornaments,
and possibly formed part of a royal throne. Lastly many of the Assyrian
bronze bells already alluded to have tongues made of iron.

Iron was apparently not known or at all events not used in Mesopotamia
as early as it was in Egypt. Evidence of its use in the early dynastic
period was afforded by Maspero’s discovery of this metal in a fifth
dynasty pyramid in 1882, and Petrie discovered a piece of worked iron in
sixth dynasty deposits, while in the year 1837 iron was discovered in
the Great Pyramid of Gizeh.

Sufficient will have been said to indicate the important part played by
metal in the history of both the Babylonians and Assyrians; not only was
it used as a commercial medium of exchange, it was also adapted to the
innumerable requirements of humanity; implements, weapons, vases,
personal decorations were all easily realized in this pliable and at the
same time durable substance, while the artistic genius of the
Mesopotamian population which finds its most perfect expression in the
sculptured bas-reliefs of early and late date, was entirely dependent on
the forging of metal tools and implements for the purpose.


“Painting” in the ordinary sense of the word to-day, was an art never
practised by the dwellers in Mesopotamia: like all Orientals both the
Babylonians and Assyrians were fond of gay colours, and they gratified
their taste for such in various ways, but as a rule no attempt was made
to faithfully represent the objects of nature through the medium of the
brush and the employment of colours alone, and the colours which they
used on their sculptured reliefs, their stuccoed walls, or their
enamelled bricks, were very frequently entirely impossible from the
naturalistic standpoint. Thus the lion of brilliant yellow hue (cf.
frontispiece), the commonest of all pictorial representations in
Babylonia, has no counterpart whatever in real life; the effect is
pleasing, it catches the eye, it awakens a sense of appreciation in the
spectator, but this is due to the general cheerfulness of the colours
themselves, certainly not to their fidelity to nature.

The lion itself bears no comparison with the Babylonian lion represented
in Fig. 46. The action is the same in either case—both lions are
proceeding with sure and deliberate step, roaring as they go, but there
is a vast difference between the artistic merits of each. The Assyrian
lion is not indeed entirely lifeless, but it lacks the freedom and
spontaneity which characterize the highest forms of art; the body is
also somewhat heavy and clumsy compared with the lion of Ishtar’s Gate.

The colours chiefly employed in Babylonian and Assyrian paintings are
blue, yellow and white, while green, red and black are of comparatively
rare occurrence. The background of the picture is generally a shade of
royal blue, the figures, usually animals, being of a brilliant yellow.
In Babylonia, the demand for colours in architectural decoration was
naturally more pressing than in Assyria, for in the latter country,
where alabaster and limestone were easily procurable, the adornment of
the interiors of buildings fell to the sculptor, but in the southern
country the dearth of stone at once precluded the possibility of
covering the walls even of the palaces with the sculptured bas-reliefs
so dear to the heart of apparently all Assyrian monarchs. Thus it was
that colour was largely made to take the place of sculpture in
Babylonian decoration, the sculptor’s chisel being exchanged for the
painter’s brush, though in Assyria sometimes the art of the sculptor and
painter were both invoked to beautify the walls of the king’s palace,
for in some of the halls in the royal residence of Sargon at Khorsabad
the sculptured reliefs on the lower part of the walls were painted;[121]
while Layard, after describing some of the wall-reliefs found in the
north-west palace at Nimrûd, says:[122] “On all these figures paint
could be faintly distinguished, particularly on the hair, beard, eyes
and sandals,” which rather suggests that the earlier Assyrian sculptures
were only partially coloured. Some of the sculptured bas-reliefs from
Ashur-naṣir-pal’s palace at Nimrûd still bear traces of colour, the
sandals of many of the figures even now showing the faded red and black
paint which at one time covered the soles and upper parts of the sandals
respectively, while in one case Ashur-naṣir-pal’s bow still retains
traces of red paint. At Khorsabad, on the other hand, colour was used
more generally, the raiment and head-gear of the king as well as the
harness of the horses, the chariots and the trees, being all painted.
Layard says that he was unable to ascertain whether the ground as well
as the figures, or parts of the figures, were coloured, but Flandin, in
regard to the wall-reliefs at Khorsabad, informs us that he could trace
a tint of yellow ochre on all parts not otherwise coloured, while the
upper parts of the walls upon which the sculptor had lavished none of
his art, were often decorated with frescoes.

But walls plastered with stucco also commanded the attention of the
painter as well as those lined with stone bas-reliefs, and Layard
discovered the remains of paintings on stucco at Nimrûd, specifically in
the upper chambers on the west side of the mound, the rooms of which
were constructed of crude bricks coated with plaster and elaborately
painted.[123] Most of these paintings do not aspire to anything more
than designs, simple or complex as the case may be. In one fresco two
bulls are portrayed facing each other; their bodies are white, the
ground from which the bulls are carefully delineated by a pronounced
black outline, being yellow, while dark blue plays a leading part in the
purely decorative accessories at the top of the fresco. Other evidence
of the extensive use of paint for the ornamentation of interior walls,
was forthcoming in the discovery on the floor of a chamber in the
north-west palace of Nimrûd, of “considerable remains of painted plaster
still adhering to the sun-dried bricks, which had fallen in masses from
the upper part of the wall. The colours, particularly the blues and
reds, were as brilliant and vivid when the earth was removed from them,
as they could have been when first used. On exposure to the air they
faded rapidly. The designs were elegant and elaborate. It was found
almost impossible to preserve any portion of these ornaments, the earth
crumbling to pieces when any attempt was made to raise it.”[124]

The exteriors of buildings were also sometimes decorated with colour, a
notable example being the ziggurat at Khorsabad of which three complete
stages together with a part of the fourth were found still remaining.
The lowest stage was painted white, the second black, the third red, and
the fourth white; doubtless the remaining stages were also painted, the
colours being emblematic of the seven planets, as in the case of the
traditional temple of Belus at Babylon.

The best example of the Babylonian painter’s art is afforded by the city
of Babylon itself. As early as the sixties, the French excavators,
Fresnel and Oppert, had collected a large number of single-coloured and
multi-coloured fragments of relief bricks. The coating of colour, which
was always applied to the narrow sides of the bricks, was sometimes from
one to two millimetres thick. Unfortunately this valuable collection was
lost, but the statements of the explorers are corroborated by the
description of a Babylonian palace wall, contained in the works of
Diodorus the historian (_circ._ 44 B.C.) where he refers to “all manner
of shapes of animals on rough bricks with colouring very like that of
nature”; and he goes on to say that on the towers and walls were
“representations of all kinds of animals, and as far as colouring and
shape went, well done. The whole represented a hunt, where everything
was full of animals of all kinds, and in size more than four yards. In
this was also represented Semiramis, on horseback, in the act of
throwing the spear after a panther, and a short distance off her
husband, Ninus, stabbing a lion with a lance.”[125] Nebuchadnezzar
himself further alludes to the pictures of wild oxen and colossal
serpents, which he caused to be portrayed on blue enamelled bricks as
decorations for the gates. Most of the glazed and coloured tiles found
at Babylon resemble coloured bas-reliefs, the figures of the animals
standing out in relief on a blue background generally, though sometimes
the ground is green. The brick-enameller’s art reaches its climax in the
Lion-frieze which adorned the Procession Street of Marduk, at Babylon.
One of these clay bas-relief lions is seen in Fig. 46.[126] The ground
is dark blue, the monotony of which is varied by the introduction of
yellow stripes and the white rosettes already so familiar from the
enamelled bricks of Khorsabad. The lion itself, the proportions of which
are excellent, stands out in white alabaster clay, and the whole work is
more perfect in technique than the Persian lion frieze at the Louvre,
which it in some ways resembles. What detracts from the artistic merit
of the latter is the disproportion which the body bears to the fore-part
and head, both of them being too small, but the Babylonian lion is
almost entirely free from this defect. The discovery of the Ishtar Gate
at Babylon added another bounteous supply of material for the study of
Babylonian painting: here too the coloured representations on the
enamelled bricks were in relief. The walls of the gate were found
preserved to a height of thirty-nine feet, the whole of the wall being
covered with animals, principally bulls and dragons, of which there were
at least eleven rows.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.—Enamelled brick relief from Babylon. (After

[Illustration: FIG. 47.—A (after Andrae); B (after Layard).]

In Fig. 47, A, we have a black and white reproduction of one of the clay
relief bulls which adorned the gate of Ishtar at Babylon. The bull is in
the act of walking, and exhibits both grace and dignity in his
movements, the slightness of his frame only serving to intensify the
agility with which he seems to advance. The proportions are excellent
and contrast very favourably with the Assyrian bull from Nimrûd (cf.
Fig. 47, B). The latter is hard and conventional, while the posture—in
itself a sufficiently natural one—is here rendered in a most wooden and
inanimate fashion. The body of the animal is white, but the painter has
attempted to make his subject stand out upon its pale yellow background,
by edging it with an artificial outline of black. When the bull was
coloured blue and thrown on to a white background this device was of
course unnecessary (cf. Layard. Ser. I, Pl. 87.) The blue bull here
alluded to belongs to the same species as the white one reproduced in
Fig. 47, B, and is in the same kneeling position, but he is furnished
with the wings of an eagle. It will be observed that in the Babylonian
bull, as also in both the Assyrian bulls, the artist has evaded the
difficulty of drawing the two horns in perspective by portraying only
one, the other being theoretically concealed from view by the horn near
the spectator.

But the palace of Nebuchadnezzar itself contained a large number of
these coloured reliefs, many pieces of the glazed tiles of which they
were composed having been found by Koldewey. The fragments recovered,
number literally thousands, and Koldewey says that apparently when the
bricks were stolen by later builders, the glazed portions were knocked
off in order to make them more useful for the common purposes for which
they were destined, and we to-day are the beneficiaries of that lack of
appreciation. Amongst the animals portrayed on the palace and temple
walls may be mentioned the bull, a mythical monster compounded of
“parts of a bird of prey,” scorpions, serpents, panthers and steers, as
well as the ubiquitous lion, while some of the fragments recovered show
parts of the human body, and birds are also sometimes encountered. The
lions form the most interesting study: there are two main types, (1)
lions walking to the left, with white skins and yellow manes; and (2)
lions walking to the right (_a_) with white skins and yellow manes, and
(_b_) yellow skins and green manes; while there is a third type
characterized by lions running to right or left. Sometimes the tail is
portrayed standing out straight behind, sometimes it assumes a curved
and less rigid form. Great difficulty has been experienced in fitting
the various fragments together, but the assiduous efforts of the Germans
have not been without success.

The process by which these coloured clay reliefs are supposed to have
been made is as follows: a layer or slab of plastic clay of a fair size
was taken, and on this surface the complete picture was modelled in
relief, the process thus far being the same as that employed in the
ordinary stone bas-reliefs, except that a chisel was in requisition
there while here the hands would suffice, though it seems probable that
moulds were at all events made for some of the lions, many of which are
apparently entirely uniform. However that may be, the slab of clay now
bearing in relief the figure determined, is supposed to have been cut up
into rectangular blocks of the same size as the ordinary bricks, each
rectangle being marked, with a view to simplifying the task of fitting
each into its right place in the picture; after this, each piece was
painted with a coat of coloured varnish, and then thoroughly baked in
the oven—the thoroughness of the baking is attested by the hardness of
the enamel—after which the various parts were fitted together. In the
same way at Nimrûd, Layard found a large number of enamelled bricks,
bearing the figures of animals and flowers as well as cuneiform
characters, lying promiscuously upon the floor of the entrance passages
to the palace, upon the unpainted backs of which rude designs, chiefly
consisting of men and animals, were drawn in black ink or paint, “and
marks having the appearance of numbers.” The marks alluded to must have
presumably served the purpose of guiding the builder in his attempt to
reconstruct the picture on the wall.

Coloured clay reliefs were not however the only species of pictorial
representation adopted in the embellishment of the city of Babylon, or
the palace of Babylon’s most illustrious king. On the southern side of
the Ḳasr, a large number of beautifully glazed tiles stamped with
Nebuchadnezzar’s inscription and adorned with flowers, twigs, and in one
case part of a human figure—some fourteen inches high—were discovered,
together with many sculptured stones bearing similar designs, the
workmanship of which however was more perfect than that of the tiles.
The latter have a flat surface, but they resemble the relief tiles in
general technique. Many other glazed bricks were found on the eastern
side of the Ḳasr, painted with various designs and displaying great
delicacy—on one of them a human figure is portrayed, clad in a rich
garment and holding what appears to be a spear in his left hand—these
however Koldewey assigns to the Persian period.



(_cf. Place, “Ninive,” Plates, 14, 15_)]

But colour was further employed, as the handmaid of humbler forms of
architectural decoration in Babylonia as well as in the northern
country. Thus at Nippur, the walls of many of the rooms were stuccoed
with a plaster consisting of mud and straw, and were coloured, the
colours used being apparently always solid. The ruins of Nin-makh’s
temple at Babylon, excavated by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft,
similarly showed the remains of white decorations on its walls; while
colour played no insignificant part in the decoration of the famous
cone-wall at the Wuswas mound of Erech, the cones of which were coloured
red or black and then arranged in a variety of geometrical patterns upon
a wall consisting of mud and straw.

As we have already seen, enamelled bricks were used for the purposes of
architectural decoration in Assyria as well as in Babylonia, though the
enamel used is generally inferior in quality, and is more thinly
applied, in consequence of which it does not adhere so well to the clay,
and it fades sooner. To Place and Botta we are indebted for the finest
and largest specimens of the Assyrian enameller’s art as yet discovered.
The principal gateways of Dûr-Sharrukîn (Khorsabad) (the town built by
Sargon, 722-705 B.C.), which are formed of arches resting on the backs
of projecting winged bulls, seem to have been the object of the
painter’s peculiar attention. These arches were decorated with a
semicircle of enamelled bricks (cf. Pl. XXX), the enamel being laid upon
one edge of the bricks, the average length of which is about three and a
half inches. The ground is blue and the composite winged figures are
yellow, while a line of green edges the lower part of the head-gear. The
rosettes which form a supplemental decoration are white. These figures
which extend over the entire round of the arch are all uniform: they are
engaged in some act of worship, or in the performance of some religious
ceremony, and at once recall the scenes depicted on the palace wall
reliefs, with which they are practically identical. In contradistinction
to the method usually employed in Babylonia, these coloured
representations are not in relief, the colour being applied to the flat
surface of the bricks, the only exception being the central bosses of
the rosettes which are slightly raised. Another good example of coloured
tile-work was found on a plinth in the doorway of what Place regarded as
the harem in Sargon’s palace. The plinth in question is twenty-three
feet long and over three feet high. The figures portrayed are the king,
standing on one side of the plinth with bare head, while on the other
side he wears the usual head-gear, a lion, a bull, an eagle, a tree and
a plough, all done in yellow on a blue background, the borders of the
whole plinth being decorated with the inevitable rosettes. The leaves of
the tree are green, a colour apparently somewhat seldom used by the
enamellers of Mesopotamia. Another painted fragment from Khorsabad,
interesting for the extreme brilliancy of its colouring (cf. Place,
_Nineve_, Pl. 32), is reproduced in Pl. XXXI. The faces of the two human
beings are white, the background being green; the frieze at the top is
yellow, the circular decorations consisting of an inner circle of green
or yellow, while the outer circle is composed of trapezoidal figures of
red and white in the case of those with a green inner circle, and red
and green in those with yellow centres, arranged in either case

Layard also succeeded in recovering many glazed and coloured bricks from
Nimrûd (Calah) of even greater interest as regards the composition of
the scenes depicted than as regards the colours used, which in their
present state in no way compare with those from Khorsabad in brilliancy.
The most interesting of these (cf. Pl. XXXI) is one in which the king,
followed by the chief eunuch, is seen receiving his chief officer,[127]
a scene so often portrayed on the Assyrian bas-reliefs. Above his head
there is a “kind of fringed pavilion” and the sole remaining sign of a
cuneiform inscription, while beneath him is a spiral design seen more
frequently on the so-called Hittite works of art, though it is also
found as a decorative accessory on some of the earliest sculptures in
Babylonia (cf. Fig. 27). The predominating colours are black and yellow:
the hair and beard of the king and his followers, their sandals, as well
as the circular balls found within each link of the spiral chain are
black, the background is light yellow, the dress of the various figures
being of a deeper shade of yellow, and the royal head-dress white. As
Layard says: “This is an unique specimen of an entire Assyrian

Of the remainder, the most interesting are briefly described by Layard
in _Discoveries_, pp. 166 and 167, and illustrated in colours in his
_Monuments_, Series II, Pls. 53-55. One of these (Pl. 54, 7) contains a
picture of four hairless and clean-shaven captives, whose four necks are
bound together by means of a rope, the end of which is held by the
prisoner in front. Two of the prisoners wear white loin-cloths, while
the other two are clad in long white shirts opening in front. As
regards the colours, the ground is a pale blue, and the figures are
yellow. Another fragment of great interest is that reproduced in
_Monuments_, Pl. 54, 12, on which are portrayed two horses, an Assyrian
warrior, and a man holding a dagger. The latter, who is naked with the
exception of a blue loin-cloth, has apparently been wounded or killed in
battle. The background here is olive-green, while the horses are blue.
On another glazed tile (Pl. 54, 13), we see a picture of Assyrian
cavalry, again on a ground of olive-green, but in this case the horses
are yellow, while the trappings are blue. One of these painted bricks
(Pl. 53, 1) presents us with a picture of a blue fish on a yellow
background; the scales of the fish however are coloured white, while on
the same tile there is a man transfixed by two arrows and girded with a
white loin-cloth. On another fragment (Pl. 53, 3), a chariot to which
horses are yoked is being dragged over a naked figure, whose neck has
been pierced by an arrow. A fillet to which is attached a feather,
encircles the man’s head. The horses are blue, their trappings being
white, and the wheels of the chariot are yellow. Below are seen the
heads together with a portion of the shields of two Assyrian soldiers.
The helmets are yellow, but the faces are “merely outlined in white on
the olive-green ground,” while the shields are blue, but are edged with
alternate squares of yellow and blue. All these belong to the same
period, but another fragment was found by Layard (Pl. 53, 6) which
appears to be of earlier date: the background is yellow, but the outline
is black instead of white, while the figures, the heads of which have
been destroyed, are dressed in the same way as the tribute-bearers
bringing a monkey and other offerings to Ashur-naṣir-pal, as portrayed
on bas-reliefs which were taken from the same building. The outer mantle
is blue, the inner being yellow, and the fringes white.

But pottery was also sometimes decorated with colours; thus Captain
Cros, De Sarzec’s successor at Tellô, discovered black pottery with
incised lines filled in with white paste on this site, a style of
pottery well known in Egypt and elsewhere, but not hitherto found in
Babylonia. At Nippur on the other hand pottery painted with green and
yellow stripes was found, while other vases decorated with black and
white discs were also brought to light.


[Illustration: GLAZED BRICK

_(cf. Place, “Ninive,” Pl. 32)_]


[Illustration: _Photo Mansel. British Museum_


Painted pottery has been similarly found in Assyria: at Nimrûd Sir Henry
Layard’s men discovered various fragments of pottery which apparently
belonged to the covers of jars; they were decorated with the spiral
design, also honeysuckles, cones and tulips, in black on a pale yellow
ground. Prehistoric pottery has moreover been found in the course of the
recent excavations at Ashur, the clay vessels in question being
decorated with red and black geometrical designs. Clay slipper-shaped
coffins were also sometimes coloured; many of the sarcophagi discovered
at Nippur were covered with a blue glaze, but they belonged apparently
to the Parthian period. Glazed sarcophagi were likewise found at Warka
(i.e. the ancient Erech) as well as at the city of Babylon, though they
also were the products of a late period. Various other terra-cotta
objects were not infrequently coated with a vitreous glaze, the colour
of the enamel being usually blue or green. Colour was not only used in
Babylonia however for decorating buildings, pots and figures, but also
apparently for the adornment of the human body, for the German
excavations at Fâra revealed the presence of alabaster colour-dishes in
the graves, traces of the colour in some cases still remaining. The
colours are black, yellow, light green and light red. According to the
analysis of the colours of the Babylonian bricks conducted by Sir Henry
De la Becke and Dr. Percy, quoted by Layard,[128] “the yellow is an
antimoniate of lead, from which tin has also been extracted, called
Naples yellow, supposed to be comparatively a modern discovery, though
also used by the Egyptians. The white is an enamel or glaze of oxide of
tin, an invention attributed to the Arabs of Northern Africa in the
eighth or ninth century. The blue glaze is a copper, contains no cobalt,
but some lead; a curious fact, as this mineral was not added as a
colouring material, but to facilitate the fusion of the glaze, to which
use, it was believed, lead had only been turned in comparatively modern
times. The red is a sub-oxide of copper.”


Of the smaller relics of Babylonian and Assyrian antiquity there are
none so numerous or so pregnant with interest as the engraved seals
which kings and commoners of all periods alike possessed. The
universality of their usage in later times is attested by Herodotus (I,
195), who tells us that in his day everyone in Babylonia carried a seal
as well as a walking-stick, while abundant evidence of their general use
in early times is afforded by the vast quantity of seals discovered in
the course of the excavations.

The seal, important as it is in our own day, was an even more
indispensable convenience of civilized society in primitive times, and
was probably one of the first inventions that owed their origins
directly to the mutual recognition of private rights of ownership. The
purpose which it first of all served was of course the same as that
which it serves with us to-day, though the sealing of the mud plaster
covering of a jar of wine, of the string of a registered parcel, or the
flap of a paper envelope, in no way prevents the thief from robbing the
contents in any of these cases, yet it renders it impossible for such a
theft to be perpetrated without detection, detection not indeed
necessarily of the thief, but of the deed itself, and that after all is
the essential preliminary to the successful establishment of any suit at
law. Its use in primitive times was, however, far more extensive, for,
as Newberry well puts it,[130] “what locks and keys are to us, seals
were to the people of the Old World.” If a man left his house for the
day, and no occupant remained to keep watch, he probably secured himself
and his goods so far as possible by sticking plasters of mud on the door
and impressing his seal upon them in such a manner as to make it
impossible to enter the house without breaking the seal; at all events
Dr. Ward informs us[131] that he saw in a Khan at Hillah, near Babylon,
a door of a room containing goods belonging to a merchant who was away
from home, carefully sealed up with pats of clay on which the impress of
the merchant’s seal had been duly fixed, thereby rendering access to the
house dependent on the bursting of the seals, and in the conservative
East the customs of to-day are not merely those of yesterday, but
generally represent the traditional usage of hundreds, sometimes
thousands of years. A few such sealed pats of clay, some of which formed
stoppers of jars, have been found, but the principal object for which
the cylinder-seal was used, was the authentication of deeds, documents
and letters.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.—A, a cylinder-seal, in which the handle has been

B, a clay tablet bearing a seal impression.

C, D, illustrate the variation in size exhibited by cylinder-seals.]

The seals employed by the Babylonians and Assyrians differed from those
generally employed elsewhere, in shape as well as in the motifs of the
engravings. They assumed the form of cylinders or rollers, through the
centre of which a single or double piece of wire was inserted, the wire
being generally made of copper, though sometimes of gold and silver,
while later on, iron also occurs. At one end the wire was clamped, while
at the other it was twisted into a loop (cf. Fig. 48, A) through which a
piece of thread or twine was passed by means of which the seal could be
slung round the owner’s neck, or carried on his wrist, the wire at the
same time facilitating the process of rolling the cylinder on the moist

The tablet (K. 382) seen in Fig. 48, B, is a good example of a clay
tablet bearing the impress of a cylinder-seal. The tablet, which
measures 4-1/8 inches by 2-5/8 inches, contains the terms of a contract.
The impression itself shows us a mythological four-winged being, such as
is seen so often on Assyrian bas-reliefs. In either hand he holds a bird
by the leg. The cylinders by the side of the tablet are reproduced to
actual size; A, C, and D (Brit. Mus. Nos. 89319, 89538, 101974)
illustrate the divergence of size which the Babylonian cylinder-seals
exhibit, (C) being an unusually large specimen, and (D) an exceptionally
small example, the vast majority of seals occupying an intermediate
position between these two extremes; in (A) we have a cylinder in which
the metal handle is still preserved.

The existence of the same kind of seal in Egypt as early as the time of
the first dynasty has been used as an argument in support of the theory
that the primitive civilizations of Egypt and Babylonia were to some
extent interdependent. It is true that cylinder-seals could only be of
use where clay was employed as a writing-material, but there is no
direct evidence that the practice of using clay for either writing or
building purposes was borrowed from Babylonia, while the similarity in
shape of early Babylonian and Egyptian mace-heads is an even more
uncertain argument whereon to base an otherwise unsupported theory.

The materials used in the manufacture of cylinder-seals were many and
various. The earliest known material is shell, but the most frequently
occurring is hæmatite. Among other materials used may be mentioned
serpentine, marble, quartz crystal, chalcedony, carnelian, agate,
jasper, syenite, jade, obsidian, onyx, limestone, schist, mother of
emerald, and amethyst. A few flint cylinders have been recovered, but
this material was evidently but seldom employed, while glass is of even
rarer occurrence, and metal is unknown. The process by which the
required device was engraved upon the cylinder depended upon the
material of which the latter was made. The softer materials employed in
earlier times, such as shell, marble or serpentine, were possibly
engraved with tools made of flint, but the harder stones would require
an implement made of some more stubborn material. Ward is of opinion
that either emery or a certain stone called corundum was used for the
purpose. The latter was employed at a very early period in Egypt and in
later times in Greece. The earliest seals appear to have been entirely
made by hand, the practice of drilling by means of a bowstring not being
introduced till a later period. Within the confines of a single chapter
it will of course be quite impossible to review all the innumerable
types of cylinder-seals used by the Babylonians and Assyrians of
different ages, and we can therefore only single out one or two examples
of some of the more interesting classes as being fairly representative
of the periods to which they belong.

The most ancient seals are generally made of white marble, or shell, and
sometimes also of lapis lazuli and serpentine. It is impossible to
assign a definite or even an approximate date to the vast majority of
cylinder-seals recovered from the ruined mounds of Mesopotamia, as most
of them belonged to individuals otherwise unknown, but fortunately a
number of seals have been brought to light which belong either to kings
or officials whose date can be independently computed, and which
therefore give us an illustration of the proficiency to which the art of
engraving had been brought at the particular period in which the owners
of the seals lived, and a comparison of the style of art exhibited on
the otherwise undateable seals with those whose age has thus been fixed,
makes it possible for us to assign them with some degree of certainty to
the period to which they belong in the history of the art of

The interest of these small relics of the past is of course centred in
the scenes depicted, which are very various, and which throw a flood of
light upon the mythology, and elucidate many legendary uncertainties in
the theological and religious conceptions of the Babylonians and
Assyrians. Where a comparison with royal or official cylinder-seals of
certain date is not feasible, the similarity between the style of art
exhibited on the particular seal in question and that to which some
sculptures of ancient patesis or kings conform afford us the necessary
clue, while lastly, when both of these tests fail, if the seal bears an
inscription, the character of the writing often enables us to place it
in its right class.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.]

One of the earliest Babylonian rulers whose seals have been recovered is
Lugal-anda, patesi or priest-king of Lagash, and the immediate
predecessor of Urukagina, the last king of the first dynasty of Lagash.
An impression of one of the seals of Lugal-anda is reproduced in Fig.
49. Part of the seal is divided into two registers, in the uppermost of
which we see the eagle with outspread wings clutching two lions, which
together formed the heraldic arms of the city of Lagash. It is
noticeable that the lions are treated with the same freedom as on the
little block of Dudu (cf. Fig. 27) the contemporary of Entemena, one of
Lugal-anda’s predecessors. Here as in the little block referred to, the
lions are treated in a very spirited manner, and in contrast to earlier
representations of the device, the lions are gnawing at the wings of
their captivator. On the right of the city-arms there is an inscription
written in very archaic characters. In the lower register we have two
human-headed bulls, a stag, a bearded hero resembling Izdubar, or
Gilgamesh as portrayed on other early cylinder-seals, and another figure
who is passing his left arm round the stag’s neck and holding one of the
fore-paws of the stag in his right hand. Unlike the bearded hero, who is
similarly engaged in grasping the fore-paw of one of the human-headed
bulls, he is clean-shaven, while his hair is represented by four
tongue-shaped projections. On the left of the two registers there is the
body and the lower part of the face of a large human-headed bull, while
on the right are two lions, one of whom is seen burying his teeth into
the neck of a composite creature, half man and half beast. It will be at
once obvious that this cylinder-seal of the early Sumerian period,
presupposes an indefinite period of artistic development in the practice
of engraving.

In the very early seals the scene is of course far less composite and
the workmanship infinitely more crude; we frequently find the same
eagle-motif, but the animals which he claws are usually goats, bulls, or
ibexes, as seen in Fig. 50, the lions only being introduced at a later
date. Here we have a very primitive seal in which we see the eagle
grasping two ibexes by the horns, while a hero is grasping the same two
animals by the leg. Hero, eagle and ibexes are represented in a highly
archaic and crude fashion, though in the symmetrically outspread wings
of the eagle we seem to have a foreshadowing of the conventionalism of
later days. The ibexes have their hind quarters raised in the air, while
the eagle grasps them by the horns, the seat of their strength actually
as well as symbolically. The seal itself is both thicker and shorter
than usual, and has only one register.

But the simplicity which usually characterizes the cylinder-seals of the
earliest period sometimes gives place to an altogether overwhelming
complexity, as in the seal represented in Fig. 51. The two registers
into which the field of the cylinder is divided encroach on each other
in so inordinate a manner that it requires a careful inspection to see
that there are two registers. The eagle is the central figure in the
upper register, his claws reaching out on the one hand towards a lion
attacked by a vulture, on the other towards a lion who appears to be
attacking a reversed ibex. Below, a huntsman occupies the commanding
position; he is clad in the short Sumerian skirt, the fringe of which is
archaically represented by a series of tags, which recall the
fragmentary sculptures of the prehistoric period of Lagash (cf. Fig. 25,
C), and he is surrounded by a crowd of lions and antelopes. This seal is
clearly the offspring of a more developed art than that reproduced in
Fig. 50, but this notwithstanding, it is essentially archaic in
character, and belongs to the early Sumerian period.

One of the most popular designs for cylinder seals in early Sumerian
times is that of one or two seated deities, sometimes accompanied by the
eagle. A very archaic example of this class is reproduced in Fig. 52.
The two seated beings are certainly gods, in spite of their being clean
shaven and having the same faintly suggested features as the figure in
the middle. It will be observed that the fringe of the short Sumerian
skirt of one of the deities and also of the worshipper is represented by
a series of pointed tags as in Fig. 51.

[Illustration: FIG. 50. FIG. 51.]

[Illustration: FIG. 52. FIG. 53.]

In Fig. 53 we again have two seated gods, but this time they have a
large bowl between them, from which they seem to be drinking by means of
tubes. They are apparently seated on camp-stools, while before one of
them is a sacred tree. Their dress consists in a long robe, which covers
one arm while leaving the other exposed and free, and reaches down to
the ankle, the bottom of it being decorated with a fringe, and the body
of it by a branch-shaped design.

Sometimes, again, we have a representation of a god seated in a boat as
seen in Fig. 54. It is impossible to say who the god is, though his
divine character is clearly demonstrated by the horned cap. From the
emergence of branches, or what may be flames of fire and streams of
water from his shoulders, it seems a fair assumption on the part of Dr.
Ward that the god is none other than Shamash, the sun-god. The boat is
being propelled through the river or canal by two oarsmen, who, together
with the god, are standing in the boat. The two men have different
head-gears, but all three are clad solely in the old Sumerian skirt.
Reeds to the height of the occupants of the boat are growing in the
water, and a very primitively executed wild-boar is haunting this
quaintly depicted marsh. Both bow and stern of the boat are similarly
shaped, and are curved upwards to a great height. If the god be Shamash,
it seems probable that here, as elsewhere, he is represented as
traversing the heavens in his bark.

Another series of archaic cylinder-seals is concerned with the heroic
feats of Gilgamesh and Ea-bani, two mythological beings whose conquests
over bulls and lions won for them a reputation and a fame which lasted
right down to the latter days of Assyrian history. We have an impression
of one of the most primitive of the Gilgamesh seals in Fig. 55. The hero
stands between two bisons, one of which is being attacked by a lion and
the other by a leopard, while the inhuman and semi-bestial Ea-bani is
attacking the lion from behind. The occurrence of the spotted leopard is
specially noteworthy, as it hardly ever occurs on later cylinders, while
the presence of bisons which only haunt the highlands is an additional
archaic touch, and is a further indication of the antiquity of this
seal, which must have been engraved at a time when the recollection of
his mountain origin was still fresh in the Sumerian’s mind, for in the
later period of Babylonian art, the bison gives place to the
swamp-loving buffalo. All the details of the seal betray the same
primitive characteristics, and, as usual, there is no inscription.

We have already seen one royal seal-impression, and we have in Fig. 56
the seal of a later but far more famous Babylonian king,
Shar-Gâni-sharri, king of Agade. In the reign of Shar-Gâni-sharri and
his son Narâm-Sin, Babylonian art reached her climax,—the crudeness of
the earlier work had passed away, while there is as yet no trace of the
conventionalism of later days, and freedom is the keynote of her
success. The scene is an oft-recurring one: a hero who to all appearance
is Gilgamesh is kneeling on one knee, and holds in his hands a vase,
from the overflowing streams of which the buffalo seeks to quench his
thirst. The seal is engraved with vigour and precision, the boldness of
which is only exceeded by the natural effect produced. Both hero and
animal are treated with a freedom and fidelity seldom if ever surpassed
in Oriental art, while the strength of the picture lies in the artist’s
genius, and is in no way dependent on the subject, which does not lend
itself to anything particularly striking or effective.

[Illustration: FIG. 54. FIG. 55.]

[Illustration: FIG. 56. FIG. 57.]

[Illustration: FIG. 58.]

In Fig. 57 we have the impression of another seal in which Gilgamesh and
Ea-bani are the prominent actors. Ea-bani is engaged with a lion, but
his comrade is fighting with a massive horned-buffalo. This seal belongs
to the time of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin, kings of Agade, its date
being fixed alike by the style of art and the purport of the brief
inscription, which contains the name of the owner, Bingani-Sharali, king
of Agade and the son of Narâm-Sin. This seal, now in the British Museum,
was discovered at Cyprus.[132] The movements of Gilgamesh and Ea-bani
are portrayed in a life-like manner, though the action of Ea-bani’s left
arm is somewhat awkward and ungraceful. The same may be said of the
overpowered and ill-designed buffalo, and also of the antelope beneath
the inscription, but the lion is decidedly conventional, a fact possibly
due to the ubiquity of his presence on the cylinder-seals and monuments
of the earliest Sumerian times, from which one may perhaps infer that
the perpetual reproduction of the same animal, has in time worn off the
freshness with which the artist at first approached his subject. But the
Gilgamesh seals probably reach their climax in that reproduced in Fig.
58. The hero is engaged in mortal combat with a lion, whom he is
endeavouring to throw. Gilgamesh is represented full-face and with the
various peculiarities which appear to have been proper to his unique
person—the long, curly beard, the equally long hair parted in the centre
with the three characteristic ringlets on either side, and the body
entirely naked but for a narrow girdle. The action is concentrated and
focussed into a point—there are no conflicting persons, animals, or even
objects in the scene to draw away or divide the attention of the
spectator, and the animation with which the subject is treated is ample
justification for the isolated and exclusive position that it here

[Illustration: FIG. 59.]

Another group of Babylonian seals belonging to different periods show
the dramatic conquest of the deity over the winged dragon. One of the
earliest, best preserved, and most instructive examples of these, is a
shell cylinder preserved in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, also
published by Ward[133] (cf. Fig. 59). The dragon has the wings and hind
part of an eagle, while his fore-legs and head are those of a lion;
between the wings upon his back stands a nude goddess brandishing
lightning in either hand. The dragon is harnessed to a four-wheeled
chariot, the front part of which is higher than the back, while a god of
disproportionate size is driving the chariot and flourishing a whip in
his left hand. The lion-headed dragon is apparently vomiting, and his
action recalls that of one of the expiring lions on the bas-reliefs of
Ashur-bani-pal. It may, however, be meant to represent the ejection of
venom, though if this is the case it has not been very happily
rendered. Before this group of supernaturals, stands the worshipper who
is in the act of presenting an offering of uncertain character upon an

[Illustration: FIG. 60.]

[Illustration: FIG. 61.]

But sometimes gods and heroes are found side by side on the same seal,
as is the case on the seal reproduced in Fig. 60. The horn-capped and
seated deity is Shamash, the Sun-god, from whose shoulders rays of light
proceed, while from his lap issue streams of living water. The god is
clad in a long mantle hung from the right shoulder, while the left arm
and shoulder are left bare, and he is seated on a three or four-legged
stool. Before him is a crescent, and behind him is a star mounted on a
kind of stand, while in his presence a typical scene is being enacted;
two heroes are laying low a lion—one of them has his left foot on the
lion’s head and is grasping the tail of the upturned beast with his left
hand, while he is about to drive a knife into its rear quarters with his
right. The other hero is holding himself in readiness with a little
hatchet; his head-gear differs from that of his comrade in being spiked,
but in all other respects the two are alike. This seal is made of pink
marble, and is now preserved in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. One
class of deities was intimately associated with the serpent, and a god’s
body is sometimes represented as being formed of a serpent coil, as is
the case in the cylinder-seal reproduced in Fig. 61. The god in this
case is sitting opposite to a goddess who is likewise seated, and holds
a shallow cup in her hand; above her arm is the crescent, and behind her
is the mounted star as in Fig. 60. The star as here represented is
identical with the early Sumerian ideogram and determinative for god,
and, doubtless has that signification here. The goddess has a long robe
reaching down to the ankles, but her left arm and shoulder are free, as
in the case of the god in Fig. 60. Her seat consists in a kind of
camp-stool, a form of support which the genius of the Babylonian seems
to have invented at a very early date. The serpent-bodied and
human-bearded god holds a branch in his hand, the precise significance
of which is not very clear, but the prominent place occupied by the
sacred tree in Babylonian and Assyrian mythology justifies the
assumption that here as elsewhere it has some symbolical meaning. Behind
the god is a five-barred gate, which must be intended to suggest the
difficulty of access to the divine presence, or else the necessity of an
introduction thereto. Unless the gate were opened either by the god
himself, or by some intermediary being of divine or quasi-divine
character, the worshipper was presumably unable to gain admittance.

As we have already seen, the cylinder-seals frequently present us with
the pictorial aspect of a legend already known from the literature. One
of the most famous legends of the Babylonians was that which told of
Etana’s courageous but bootless attempt to ascend to heaven on the wings
of an eagle. Higher and higher soared the eagle, till at last heaven’s
portals were in sight, but the goal, for some reason not indicated, was
never reached, and both Etana and his living aeroplane were dashed to
the ground. We have an illustration of this bold flight on some of the
seal-cylinders in the British Museum, an impression of one of which is
given in Fig. 62. Etana is seated on the eagle, who is bearing his
burden aloft in the sight of an admiring and upward-gazing dog. On the
right a shepherd clad in a long garment—his right shoulder being exposed
as usual—is driving a horned sheep and two goats towards a primitive
looking fence: both Etana and the shepherd wear beards and long hair,
while the latter carries a staff in his left hand. In the background is
a naked but likewise bearded individual, who is seated beside a large
amphora with the contents of which he appears to be entirely
preoccupied; he is presumably performing culinary operations of some

[Illustration: FIG. 62.]

The scene on other Babylonian seals is that of a god attacking a humanly
conceived enemy; this class comprises cylinder-seals belonging to the
archaic period as well as those of later date. The impression of one
such archaic seal is reproduced in Fig. 63. In the centre we have the
god, mounted on a bull, his left hand raised, his right hand grasping a
weapon or a whip; he is trampling on a prostrate and suppliant foe,
whose figure is sketched in the roughest and crudest conceivable manner.
As Ward says, this seal must date from the time when the horse was
unknown, or at all events not used in battle. On the right side of the
impression, the god is engaged on foot with an enemy who appears to be
armed with a weapon shaped like a boomerang, such as that with which the
god Nin-girsu is armed on the Vulture Stele. The god holds in his right
hand a weapon of uncertain character, while between the two and facing
the god is a diminutive worshipper whose hand is raised—doubtless in
token of submission—towards his divine lord. On the left the god is
stabbing a human-headed bull with a dagger, while from the god’s back,
rays, or what appear to be rays, are emitted.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.]

By the time of Gudea, patesi of Lagash, and Ur-Engur and Dungi, kings of
Ur, we find a marked change in the artistic merits of the
seal-engraver’s products. Speaking generally, they are executed with far
greater care, and with a wealth of precision entirely absent in most of
the earlier intaglios, but what they gain in care and detailed
attention, they lose in the conventionalism to which that care and
attention have given birth. We have here no rough sketch of a born
artist, but the elaborated painting of a copyist. In Fig. 64 we have an
impression of one of Gudea’s cylinder-seals. The god, who is probably
Nin-girsu or Ea,[134] is seated on a box-like throne: he holds a vase in
either hand, from each of which issue two streams which pour their
contents into three vases resting on the ground, these in turn becoming
themselves the generators of living springs of water. Facing the god is
an intermediary deity who is supporting one of the vases with his left
hand, and leading the worshipper, probably Gudea himself, with his
right. From the shoulders of the intermediary emanate two serpents, the
head of the near one exactly resembling the strange reptiles on the vase
of the same patesi (cf. Fig. 90). The identification of the
intermediary deity with Nin-gish-zi-da is rendered highly probable by
Gudea’s allusion to this god in one of his inscriptions, where in his
description of the manner in which he was introduced to his supreme god,
Nin-girsu, he expressly states that “Nin-gish-zi-da, his god, held him by
the hand.”

[Illustration: FIG. 64.]

[Illustration: FIG. 65.]

[Illustration: FIG. 66.]

In Fig. 65 we have a seal-impression of Ur-Engur, king of Ur about 2400
B.C. The scene depicted is a familiar one: an intermediary god is in the
act of introducing a suppliant worshipper to a superior deity seated on
a throne. The enthroned god has a lengthy beard and wears a round hat
somewhat resembling the turban worn by Gudea (cf. Pl. 23). He is resting
one arm on the back of his throne, while his right hand is extended in
apparent invitation to the slowly approaching worshipper. The throne
itself, unlike the box-like seats of earlier days, is provided with a
back, and the back legs are fashioned after the legs of an ox. The
intermediate deities wear the horned cap with which the gods in Gudea’s
time were usually covered, while horns appear to rise also from out of
their heads, the horns oddly enough being identical in shape with those
on the terra-cotta head discovered during the recent excavations in
Babylonia.[135] The seated deity is clad in a long simple garment
reaching down to the feet, his dress being simpler than that of the
attendant deities, or even that of the worshipper himself. The latter
wears a long tunic, and a fringed mantle over his left shoulder. Both of
the intermediaries are likewise apparelled in lengthy garments, which
differ, however, from each other and also from that of the worshipper in
being more elaborately worked, the divine introducer wearing the richer
robe of the two. The inscription refers to Ur-Engur, king of Ur, who may
conceivably be the figure seated on the throne; in support of this
theory, it is worth noting that the kings of this dynasty were often
deified while yet on earth. Ur-Engur was succeeded by Dungi, the
impression of one of whose cylinder-seals is given in Fig. 66. Both of
these seals are preserved in the British Museum. A bearded and
horn-capped god is standing before an altar shaped like a high standing
vase, from which arises a feathered branch which may be intended to
represent the ascending flame, while two long bare stalks with tufted
heads hang over the altar on either side. The god holds in his left hand
a weapon, the upper end of which is provided with a lateral semicircular
handle, similar to that found at Tellô by De Sarzec, and also to that
represented on the stone vase of Gudea (cf. Fig. 90). In his extended
right hand he holds a three-stalked flower, which is an exact replica of
that found in the hands of mythical beings on later Assyrian
bas-reliefs. On the other side of the altar is the suppliant, clad in
the same fringed garment seen in Fig. 65, while his right hand is raised
in adoration. Behind him is another worshipper whose dress resembles
that of the god, and who is similarly crowned with a horned cap, but in
spite of this divine distinction he has both hands raised in worship.
Dungi was succeeded by Bur-Sin, one of whose cylinder-seals is seen in
Fig. 67. The scene varies little from that found on the seals of his
predecessors. A seated god, a worshipper, and another adoring figure
wearing a divine head-gear behind. The god wears a turban as in the
seal of Ur-Engur (cf. Fig. 65); he reposes on a very thickly upholstered
seat, while both his own feet and those of his throne rest on a small
low platform. The worshipper here has his hands clasped in front in much
the same way as Gudea’s hands are, in the statues from Tellô, but the
third figure, whom Ward somewhat humorously describes as a “flounced
goddess,” has both hands raised. An impression of a cylinder-seal of
Gimil-Sin, the successor of Bur-Sin on the throne of Ur, is reproduced
in Fig. 68. The turbaned and long-bearded god is again seated on a
richly upholstered divan, and is elevated on a little platform. He holds
in his right hand a double-handled vase, while his left hand is
concealed in the folds of his flounced robe. The garment of the
intermediary is exactly the same as that of the seated god, but a horned
cap takes the place of the turban. The worshipper behind has one hand
raised like his usher, while the fringed garment hanging from his
shoulder is arranged so as to allow his left leg to be seen. A seal of
Ibi-Sin, the last of the dynasty (cf. Fig. 69) presents the same
subject, while the treatment practically shows no variation. It will
have been noticed that the star and crescent find a place on some of
these cylinders, while from others they are absent,—from which it may
reasonably be inferred that they were mere symbolic accessories, and as
such of no vital importance.

All these seals bear inscriptions in contradistinction to those
belonging to the earlier period, and a considerable part of the field of
the cylinder is occupied with writing instead of scenery. But as time
went on this tendency became more pronounced, and during the Kassite
period, sometimes nearly the whole of the seal is occupied with an
inscription, usually of a religious character. Thus on a cylinder
inscribed with the name of Kurigalzu, the Kassite king of Babylonia
(_circ._ 1400 B.C.) (cf. Fig. 70) the pictorial element is reduced to
one single figure, that of the worshipper.

[Illustration: FIG. 67. FIG. 68.]

[Illustration: FIG. 69. FIG. 70.]

An extremely interesting seal-impression of the Kassite period is
published by Clay in _The Museum Journal_, University of Pennsylvania
(I, 1910, pp. 4-6). It is dated in the fourth year of Nazi-Maruttash,
king of Babylon (_circ._ 1330 B.C.) (cf. Fig. 71). Three bearded men are
engaged in ploughing; one is urging on the two humped oxen who are yoked
to the ploughshare, the second holds the handles, while the third
appears to be pouring grain into a drill attached to the plough.

It has been said that this seal-impression gives us the earliest
representation of the Babylonian plough, but that statement must be
considerably modified in the light of the early seal-impressions given
by Ward (p. 132, Figs. 369, 371, 372). The plough is portrayed on all
these three cylinders, and they all antedate the cylinder-seal of
Nazi-Maruttash (cf. also the votive-tablet from Nippur, Fig. 25, E).

[Illustration: FIG. 71.]

The Neo-Babylonian Empire (625-538 B.C.) inherited the stereotyped
traditions of the long period of Kassite supremacy, and though there was
a certain reaction in favour of the pictorial as against the literary
element in the later cylinder-seals, the style of art remained more or
less unchanged, if not unchangeable. A good example of a Neo-Babylonian
seal-impression is that found on a tablet dated in the 26th year of
Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Fig. 72).[136] The worshipper stands before a
rectangular box which looks like an altar, but which, according to Ward,
is the seat of the gods. It supports two emblems, one a dog and the
other a thunderbolt of the storm-god Adad. The posture, attitude and
general appearance of the worshipper exactly correspond to those found
on the Kassite cylinders of Kurigalzu (cf. Fig. 70), and are a good
illustration of the conventionalism to which later Mesopotamian art
became so hopelessly enslaved.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.]

The cylinder-seal was employed in Assyria from the earliest periods of
her history, and continued to be used right down to the time of the
Persians, who in turn adopted the same kind of seal. A cylinder-seal
belonging to the early Assyrian period, i.e. about 2000 B.C., is shown
in Fig. 73. The workmanship is crude, but in the scene itself we see in
embryo the military exploits of the late Assyrian bas-reliefs. A
warrior, mounted in his two-wheeled war-chariot, is in the act of
dispatching an arrow from his drawn bow; his rival, on foot, is doing
exactly the same, and it appears to be a question as to which of the two
combatants will get his arrow in first. The chariot is drawn by a bull,
an indication that the horse was not as yet used for war purposes, while
the four-spoked wheels are a further archaic touch—the chariot-wheels of
the later Assyrians having eight, twelve, or sometimes sixteen spokes.
The bull, in his mad career, is trampling over a prostrate foe, a scene
which is frequently represented on the bas-reliefs; it is however
interesting to see the symbolical star and crescent of the old
Babylonians reproduced on this early Assyrian seal.

[Illustration: FIG. 73.]

[Illustration: FIG. 74.]

[Illustration: FIG. 75.]

[Illustration: FIG. 76.]

We have already seen the winged-dragon on an archaic Babylonian seal
(cf. Fig. 59), but it was apparently not till the Assyrian era that the
conflict between “Bel and the dragon” was represented in Mesopotamian
art.[137] On an early Assyrian cylinder-seal, now preserved in the
Metropolitan Museum, New York (cf. Fig. 74), we have a primitive picture
of the conquest of Bel-Merodach as the representative and very
incarnation of order, system and method, over the dragon—the
personification of disorder and tumultuous chaos. The god is drawing his
bow—not apparently at a venture, but with the deadly certainty with
which the gods can presumably aim. This notwithstanding, the god has
taken the precaution of carrying a quiver-full of arrows on his back,
while he is further armed with an axe. The winged-dragon of composite
character is reared upon his hind legs, his face turned towards his
omnipotent adversary, as on the famous Marduk and Tiâmat bas-relief. The
god is accompanied by another beast with wings, who is doubtless ready
to come to the assistance of his divine lord when called upon. Behind
the god we see the winged disc, and what appear to be two eyes, while
the crescent of Sin, the moon-god, and the star of Ishtar are engraved
in front. Behind the dragon is a sacred tree, resembling a palm-tree.
The sacred tree played a very important part in Assyrian art, and is one
of the most frequently recurring objects on the palace-wall reliefs. It
is likewise often to be found on Assyrian seals, a good example of which
is afforded by a cylinder-seal in the British Museum reproduced in Fig.
75. The sacred tree in its most conventionalized form occupies the
central part of the picture; on either side stands the king with hand
raised in adoration; his dress—for an Assyrian king—is comparatively
simple, but his head-gear is a replica of the pointed hat so frequently
seen upon the heads of Assyrian kings on the palace wall-reliefs. Above
the sacred tree is the god Ashur with his winged disc, from which two
cords descend which seem to form the outward connecting link between the
god and his worshipper, and recall the rays which emanate from the disc
of Aten, and terminate in hands bearing the Egyptian symbol of life, on
the famous stele of Khuenaten, the so-called “heretic king” of the
eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. Behind the king is the winged eagle-headed
genius so constantly represented on the bas-reliefs. This strange
mythical creature has one hand raised while in the other he carries a
basket of the ordinary Assyrian type.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.]

In a number of seals, one of which is reproduced here (cf. Fig. 76), a
man-fish, or a fish-god, resembling the figure found by Layard in
sculptured relief at Nimrûd (cf. Pl. IV) occupies the most prominent
position. Ashur in his winged disc is again casting the shadow of his
divine protection over the sacred tree; on either side stands the
Dagan-like worshipper with one hand raised and holding a basket in the
other. He is followed by an attendant worshipper, while behind, is a
warlike-looking personage—possibly the god Marduk—who is about to
execute vengeance on an ostrich; with his left hand he firmly grasps the
ostrich’s long neck, and in his right he holds a scimitar with which he
apparently intends to remove the bird’s head.

The seated deity found on Babylonian seals of all periods is also found
on the cylinder-seals of the Assyrians. We have a good specimen of an
Assyrian seal of the kind referred to in Fig. 77. A bearded god is
seated on a chair with a high back such as is never found on Babylonian
cylinders: the legs of the chair are strengthened to support the weighty
person of the divine occupant by means of cross-bars, while the back is
somewhat grotesquely decorated with balls. In front of the god is a
table or stand with double folding legs and covered with a cloth upon
which a shallow bowl and two flat cakes of bread are set; above the
table is a fish—its head turned towards the god. Behind the enthroned
god stands a goddess, from whose body proceed four ray-like projections
which terminate in stars, the general appearance of the projections
being not unlike that of four starry rockets. Before the loaded table
stands the worshipper with one hand raised, while in the field of the
cylinder there is an ibex, an eye-shaped design, seven balls and a



The art of engraving on shell in Mesopotamia dates back to the earliest
days of Sumerian civilization. The most ancient of these engravings are
executed on shells with rough surfaces, of which those of the oyster
seem to have been the most popular.

Some of the fragments recovered are clearly shaped and fashioned for
inlaying purposes, while others, of curved shape, can be fitted together
and once formed part of an engraved and delicately moulded vase or cup.
Some time later mother-of-pearl became the popular material among
engravers, who used it to great advantage. Mother-of-pearl is
undoubtedly more effective and striking than ordinary shell, but it has
its disadvantages and drawbacks, for it is both brittle and scaly, and
in consequence of this the engraver seems to have been compelled from
the necessity of the case to confine himself to the use of flat blades
or flakes when employing this material.

[Illustration: FIG. 78.—(Louvre) Cat., p. 389.]

[Illustration: FIG. 79.—_Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 46, 4.]

One of the most ancient specimens of the shell-engraver’s art as yet
discovered is that reproduced in Fig. 78. This fragment is convex in
form and a truncated triangle as regards its shape. A lion is seen in
the act of strangling a bull; with one of his fore-legs he is grasping
his victim round the neck, and the other is thrown around and over the
bull’s back, while he is burying his teeth in the bull’s neck. The
general style to which this engraving conforms, the full-face view of
the lion, the act in which he is engaged, and the combined vigour and
crudeness which characterize this production, vividly recall the
mace-head of Mesilim, king of Kish (cf. Fig. 26). The comparison between
the two is so striking that we can hardly be wrong in assigning this
engraved shell to approximately the same period, i.e. to the time before
Ur-Ninâ, the founder of the first dynasty of Lagash. It was discovered
at Tellô in the neighbourhood of Eannatum’s well and is just under three
inches in height. In Fig. 79[138] we have another fragment of a very
archaic shell-engraving; a human-headed and streaky-bearded bull is
being attacked by a lion-headed eagle; the shell itself is extremely
thin, and the engraving very delicate, but the design itself as well as
the mode of its execution both testify to its great age. The shell work
of the time of Ur-Ninâ and his successors is well illustrated in Fig.
80. We have here a sketch of a man bearing a net; the man is
clean-shaven and bald, and his face is of precisely the same type as
that so frequently represented on the sculptures of Ur-Ninâ’s time. His
only clothing is a short “kaunakes” skirt, the fringe of which is
portrayed in the fashion characteristic of the earliest Sumerian works
of art. In his right hand he carries a battle-axe, while with his left
he holds the ends of two sticks from which is slung the net or basket
already referred to. This small relic was found in the same
neighbourhood as the preceding, and is just under two inches high.
Another interesting specimen of Sumerian shell-engraving is published by
Mr. L. W. King in the _Proceedings of the Society of Biblical
Archæology_, 1910, pp. 243-5. It represents a bearded hero embracing an
ibex. It is worthy of note that the hero’s dress does not consist in the
Sumerian skirt, but in a loin-cloth. Probably the finest example of
early Babylonian shell-work is that reproduced in Fig. 81; the leaping
kid is wonderfully realistic both in form and attitude and has clearly
been studied from nature. Of the mother-of-pearl work of a somewhat
later date we have a good example in Fig. 82. Here Gilgamesh is depicted
in standing posture holding in either hand one of the long “staves” seen
elsewhere, and specifically on the famous green steatite vase of Gudea
(cf. Fig. 90). Gilgamesh is portrayed full-face and has the long
vertically streaked beard so frequently seen on the cylinder-seals. This
fragment is just under two and a half inches in height, and emanated
from the same place. The engraved oblong mother-of-pearl plaques would
appear to have been used for the decoration of the handles of knives or

[Illustration: FIG. 80.]

[Illustration: FIG. 81. (Musée du Louvre)]

[Illustration: FIG. 82. Cat., pp. 393, 401.]

[Illustration: FIG. 83. (After Layard.)]

In Fig. 83 we have one of the best preserved and most interesting
specimens of later shell-work in Mesopotamia. This fragment was
discovered at Warka (Erech), but is clearly Assyrian in style: the
elaborately caparisoned horses remind us strikingly of the horses
sculptured in relief on the palace walls of Ashur-naṣir-pal at Nimrûd
(Calah), while the floral decoration betrays Egyptian influence and
recalls the carved ivories which were found amid the débris of that
king’s palace. The ruined mounds of Assyria herself have yielded but few
specimens of the shell-engraver’s art, and those that have been
recovered are for the most part Phœnician in workmanship and Egyptian in
conception, sphinxes and lotus-plants assuming the most prominent part
in the decoration. The discovery of engraved shells of apparently a yet
later date was among the many interesting results attending the German
excavations at Babylon; a number of these shells were found on the floor
of a building of Nebuchadnezzar, some of which showed Egyptian influence
and were decorated with lotus ornaments. Shell was thus used for various
decorative purposes, but in early times it sometimes served as a
material for the fashioning of even so utilitarian an object as a seal,
as we have already had occasion to remark.


[Illustration: FIG. 84.]

Unlike shell, which could be readily picked up on the shores of the
Persian Gulf by the inhabitants of the earliest centres of civilization
in Lower Mesopotamia, many of which were doubtless seaports in those
days, ivory was only procurable elsewhere, and it was not till the
dwellers in the valley extended their power outside that they were able
to command a supply of this more precious substance, ivory forming one
of the principal materials exacted by the later Assyrian kings from
their various vassal princes. A large collection of carved ivories
discovered in Ashur-naṣir-pal’s palace at Nimrûd (Calah) affords us the
desired opportunity for studying the ivory work of the period, and for
ascertaining the proficiency to which that art was brought by the
artists of that day. What strikes one instantly, and with overwhelming
force, about the little group of carved ivories in Pl. XXXII is their
pronounced Egyptian appearance, a sure and certain indication of the
intimate relation which must have subsisted between Egypt and Assyria at
this period. In the top right-hand corner we have the head of a woman,
represented full-face and with an Egyptian head-gear: the head is set
within the frame of a narrow window, from which it looks out over a
balcony supported by pillars. In the centre we have the fragment of a
similar head, below which there is a bull’s head. In the top left-hand
corner we have an ivory plaque upon which is figured an Egyptian king in
standing posture, grasping a lotus plant about his own height with his
left hand. The plant rests upon a stand, the top of which is shaped
volute-wise and resembles the capitals of the columns on the bas-relief
from Sippar (cf. Pl. XIV). Below on the left is a carved ivory sphinx,
which in style and character is clearly neither Assyrian nor Babylonian.
But the most interesting specimen in this group is the carved ivory
panel in which two women are seated opposite each other on either side
of a cartouche surmounted by a disc and feathers. The cartouche contains
Egyptian hieroglyphs which may be read “Uben Shu,” the meaning of which
would be “The Sun god riseth,” or the “Rising Sun”: the inside of this
cartouche is gilded, and the characters within are inlaid. The
feathers, which are likewise inlaid, are the emblem of Maat, the god of
truth, and the disc is of course emblematic of the sun. The two women
are obviously Egyptian, their head-dresses, the folds in their garments
and their general attitude all alike testifying to their Egyptian
origin, while beneath their seats, which consist of low-backed chairs,
there is the “ankh” sign, the meaning of which is “life.” This sign,
misnamed “crux ansata,” or “cross with a handle,” has needless to say
nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian symbol; it probably
represented a girdle, that which used to be regarded as a handle being
that part of the girdle which encircled the waist, the long stem being
the loose ends, and a girdle as encircling the vital parts would not
unnaturally symbolize life, and in picture-language come to signify it.
The two seated figures have one hand raised in token of adoration before
the sacred emblems in the middle, while in their other hands they firmly
grasp a sceptre. Below we have seven more fragmentary specimens of
ivory-work, all of which were discovered amid the ruins of the same
palace and betray a strong foreign influence. The deductions which these
little ivory carvings justify our making in regard to the foreign
affairs of Assyria at this period, are rendered certainties by the
evidence afforded by the bronze bowls dealt with in the chapter on

[Illustration: _PLATE XXXII_

_Photo. Mansell_ _British Museum_


It must not however be supposed that all the ivories discovered in
Assyria are the work of Egyptian or Phœnician artists. Some, of which a
good specimen is seen in Fig. 84, are as Assyrian in style and
conception as any palace bas-relief. The ivory panel here reproduced is
just five inches high. The subject is a familiar one—a four-winged
mythological being crowned with a horned cap, with the right hand
extended in the performance of some religious ceremony, and carrying a
basket in the left hand. Not only is the motif entirely Assyrian in
character, but the workmanship and manner of execution bears the
unmistakable hall-mark of Assyria. The aggressive masculinity of the
arms and legs, the folds, arrangement and style of the garments as well
as the hair and strongly depicted beard, are all exactly paralleled in
the figures so often seen on the stone sculptures of the period. On
either side of the panel in which this mythological creature is
enshrined there is a scroll-work device which was employed in Babylonia
as early at all events as the time of Entemena of Lagash, while his feet
stand upon a line of the rosettes which appear so frequently as a
decorative accessory in Assyrian works of art. The lower part of this
panel is filled in with circular and volute-shaped devices, and at the
bottom of all we have another line of rosettes. Among the various
subjects carved on the other ivory panels emanating from the ruins of
the same palace the following may be mentioned as of especial interest:
a hero slaying a lion, some Assyrians gathering fruit, and
Ashur-naṣir-pal accompanied by deities and attendants.

These ivory panels from Nimrûd were as we have seen, in many cases
inlaid[139] with lapis lazuli and gilded, and they were probably used to
decorate and embellish thrones, or other stately articles of furniture,
and in this connection we not unnaturally think of the great throne
which Solomon built for himself, which is said to have been made of
ivory and overlaid with the best gold (cf. 1 Kings x. 18) as also of the
ivory palace erected by Ahab.


It were indeed paradoxical if the Babylonian artists had not invoked the
aid of the clay, which they employed so readily and extensively not only
in their building operations but also for all ordinary writing purposes,
in their attempts to represent human and animal life. Undoubtedly this
material was not employed for these purposes so frequently as might have
been expected, but this is probably due to the comparative fragility of
this substance and its consequent inability to withstand the
disintegrating effects of time and climate; as most of the objects
fashioned by Babylonian artists would appear to be of a votive
character, it is obvious that durability was one of the most important
considerations in their production. Notwithstanding this fact however, a
sufficiently large number of terra-cotta figures, some of which belong
to the earliest periods of Sumerian civilization, have fortunately been
preserved. The most ancient of these terra-cotta models are extremely
small in size and crude in workmanship. We have a very archaic example
in Fig. 85, A. The eyes of this small figure are the most noticeable
features; they consist of flattened balls; the bodies of these primitive
little models are as unfinished as they can be, sometimes being
fashioned merely triangular-wise. In Fig. 85, B, we have another example
of the same type and belonging to the same period, though it shows a
slight advancement on the preceding figure. A thick head-gear or wig,
crowns the head, and in its hands it holds an object of uncertain
character, either a child or an instrument of music according to M.
Heuzey. The clay, though moulded in the hand, is incised with a number
of delicate lines, which are probably due to the application of a sharp
and finely pointed tool. These curious figures are about one and a half
or two inches high.

The next illustration (Fig. 85, C.) transfers us from the early Sumerian
period to that of Gudea. The comparative proficiency attained through
long cultivation of the art is sufficiently obvious. The figure is that
of a god, his head-gear being characteristically furnished with four
pairs of horns, and unlike the copper votive statuettes of Gudea the god
here has bull’s ears. The upper part of the body is left bare, but the
lower part, which unfortunately is not preserved, was evidently covered
by a garment fastened round the waist by a girdle. The god’s left hand
has hold of a stick or weapon inserted in the girdle, the upper portion
of which is seen in the illustration. As usual, the god wears a heavy
beard represented by a series of vertical streaks, but the arrangement
of his hair in two long tails hanging down over his chest and curled at
the ends, is somewhat peculiar. This little plaque is between two and a
half and three inches in height.

[Illustration: FIG. 85.—A, B (cf. _Déc. en Chald._, Pl. 39; 1, 2). C
(cf. Cat., Fig. 183). D (cf. Cat., Fig. 193; _Déc. en Chald._, p. 252).
(All Musée du Louvre.)]

The Sumerians of early times did not however confine themselves to a
portrayal of single figures in their clay reliefs, but sometimes aspired
to complete scenes; thus in the fragment reproduced in Fig. 85, D, we
see a standing woman; her hands are raised in a devotional manner, and
doubtless were the remainder of this clay relief preserved we should see
her accompanied by her husband, as so frequently on the cylinder-seals.
Her thick, wavy hair hangs plait-wise down her back, and a raised fillet
surrounds her head. The relief in which the woman’s figure is raised is
high, and the workmanship, though crude is not without life. This little
fragment is about five inches high and is made of grey-coloured clay.
Occasionally these terra-cotta figures were painted, as was the case
with the little male statuettes discovered at Babylon in 1910.[140]

Ever faithful in the art of imitation, the Assyrians also turned their
attention to the artistic possibilities inherent in the clay which they
used alike for the construction of their houses and for writing
purposes. Some of the clay figures, or little clay reliefs discovered in
Assyria belong without doubt to Assyrian times, but by far the larger
half of the terra-cotta figures, lamps and other objects discovered are
as certainly post-Assyrian.

[Illustration: FIG. 86.—A, B (Brit. Mus., No. 91837). C, E (Musée du
Louvre). D (Cf. _Mitteilung._, No. 5, Abb. 1).]

Some very interesting terra-cotta figures representing the Fish-god,
Dagan, are preserved in the British Museum (cf. Fig. 86, A, B). These
small images are only a few inches high, but the humanly conceived face
of the god is treated with less conventionalism than is the case with
the sculptured portraits of human beings during the Assyrian period, a
fact which of course may possibly be due to the plasticity of clay as
compared with stone. These little figures are probably Assyrian and not
Babylonian in workmanship; at all events, a fish-god sculptured in
relief was discovered at the entrance to a small Assyrian temple at
Nimrûd, which, apart from other evidence,[141] is a clear indication
that the fish-god was venerated in Assyria as well as in Babylonia. It
would seem reasonable to suppose that the Dagan-cult would naturally
find its origin in the alluvial centres of Sumerian civilization in the
extreme south of Babylonia, where the water was an all-important factor
for good or ill, but according to Jastrow[142] it was imported from the
north to the south, though the name of a king of Isin, Ishme-Dagan, who
reigned about 2200 B.C., shows that the god was known and revered in
Babylonia at least as early as his time. On the other hand it is
equally noteworthy that one of the earliest known Assyrian kings, whose
reign must probably be assigned to the nineteenth century B.C., also
bore that name. These clay images of the gods were usually buried as
amulets in the foundations of buildings. Another terra-cotta image of a
god belonging to the Assyrian period, and the work of an Assyrian
artist, is seen in Fig. 86, C.[143] This little image was found,
together with two other terra-cotta figures, beneath the floor of the
court of Sargon’s palace at Khorsabad. Each had been enclosed in a brick
capsule as a foundation-amulet, where they remained undisturbed until
the spade of Botta brought them once more to light. The figure here
reproduced is that of an Assyrian god, while one of the other two was a
mythical creature, and the third was a demon, but all three must have
been buried for much the same purpose, the god to take care of the
positive welfare of the inmates of the palace, the demon to act
negatively in warding off evil influences, while they all have their
stone counterparts in the bas-reliefs recovered from the ruins of
Assyrian palaces. This little image is eight inches high and is made of
a greyish clay. The god is clothed in a long robe reaching down to his
feet; his head is crowned with a cap encircled by two pairs of horns,
and his beard conforms to the usual Assyrian type.[144]

Various terra-cotta figures of nude women or goddesses have been
recovered from different Babylonian and Assyrian sites, but they are
for the most part not earlier than the Parthian period, and their
consideration does not therefore fall within the scope of the present
volume. There are however exceptions to this generalization, one of the
most remarkable being that of a terra-cotta figure also preserved in the
Louvre and reproduced in Fig. 86, E.[145] This little model is reported
to have been found at Hillah, near Babylon; the place of its discovery
was a Greek grave, but it was found in the company of seals and amulets
belonging to a much earlier period. The woman, in a standing position,
is seen suckling her infant at her breast. The bodies of the mother and
her child both exhibit the characteristic fullness of Eastern art, but
in spite of this fact, there is a delicacy and refinement, as well as an
insight into the charms of human nature such as is seldom seen in the
statues and figures of Oriental antiquity. Various terra-cotta figures
of nude women were also discovered at Nippur in the strata of
Shar-Gâni-sharri and Ur-Engur, while another interesting example of a
nude woman or goddess is seen in Fig. 86, D.[146] This little clay
figure was discovered during the course of the German excavations at
Babylon, a site which has yielded numerous terra-cotta figures of nude
women with and without a child; the lower part of the body does not
apparently belong to the upper part represented here, but is the broken
half of another clay figure; it enables us however to form a better
idea of the general appearance of these terra-cottas when complete. Both
fragments were recovered in the ruins of the temple of the goddess
Nin-Makh, and doubtless formed part of clay miniatures of a stone statue
of the goddess, which unfortunately has not yet been brought to light.
The figure exhibits a certain heaviness, which the thick tresses of hair
only tend to accentuate. The hair itself appears to be carefully waved
and curled; the woman’s hands are clasped below her breasts, while she
wears bracelets on her wrists and anklets on her legs.

During the same excavations an interesting figure of a bearded man, made
of unbaked clay and measuring about six inches high, was found in the
temple of Adar; his left arm is hanging down, and his right arm is
extended and holds what appears to be a staff, while on his head he
wears a Phrygian cap or something akin. A similar clay figure was found
in the Anu-Adad temple, but it differed from the former in being
provided with a golden staff. The figure was enclosed in what is known
as a brick capsule; these capsules were sometimes only a few inches
high, but at other times reached as much as twenty inches. These
capsuled statuettes were generally located before the entrances to
rooms. Sometimes figures of animals as well as of human beings were
similarly enshrined in brick capsules; thus a model of a clay dove
enclosed in this manner was discovered by the German excavators at

[Illustration: FIG. 87. (Brit. Mus.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 88. (Brit. Mus.)]

Among the most interesting of the Assyrian terra-cotta models must be
mentioned those of the favourite hunting-dogs of Ashur-bani-pal (cf.
Fig. 87) found in his palace at Nineveh; these same dogs can however be
so much more readily studied from the stone bas-reliefs of this same
king, that it will be best to forgo any detailed consideration of them
here. Unfortunately it is impossible to speak with any confidence as
regards the date of the vast majority of clay figures yielded by the
excavations in Babylonia and Assyria; they comprise figures of gods and
goddesses, as well as of dogs, lions and other animals. Some of these
are fashioned in the round, others are portrayed in relief upon small
plaques. One of the best preserved of these plaques is reproduced in
Fig. 88. This little clay relief was discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson
at Birs-Nimrûd. A clean-shaven and semi-nude attendant is in charge of a
large hound which he is leading by means of a strap. The attendant, who
is armed with a stick, is more life-like than the attendants on the
bas-reliefs of Ashur-bani-pal, but the dog, though spirited, cannot
compare with those sculptured in hard stone on the palace walls of that
same king. The innumerable terra-cotta lamps which have been excavated
from time to time for the most part belong to a late period, it is
however interesting to note that clay lamps were apparently in use at a
very early period, even as early as the time of Bur-Sin, king of Ur
(_circ._ 2350 B.C.), one of whose clay lamps was discovered at Nippur.
We have already remarked that clay was probably used extensively for
making moulds for casting metal objects, and it is certain that it was
sometimes used by the sculptor as a material for rough sketches (cf. p.
118). The clay figures or statuettes of the earlier period were either
fashioned by hand, or else stamped in a mould, but in either case they
were solid, in contradistinction to the Babylonian terra-cottas of the
later Greek and Roman times which were generally hollow in the interior,
their outside being coated with a kind of paste by means of which the
artist endeavoured to work out the details of hair, clothing, and other
externalities, while they were not infrequently covered with a vitreous
glaze, the colours used being blue and green. But a consideration of
this later work lies beyond the scope of our volume, which is confined
to a consideration of the Babylonian and Assyrian period.


Stone and clay were the two materials from which the Babylonians and
Assyrians as a rule manufactured their vases, pots and bowls, though, as
we have seen (cf. Fig. 45), metal was occasionally used for the purpose.
Unfortunately the study of Babylonian and Assyrian pottery has never
received the attention which it deserves, while in the earlier
excavations carried on in Mesopotamia the importance of these
uninscribed relics of the past was not realized, and the omission to
observe the particular strata of the mounds in which they were
respectively discovered, as well as in some cases the failure to note
even the sites where they were unearthed, has made anything like a
systematic study of Babylonian and Assyrian pottery a virtual

Various kinds of stone were used as materials for making bowls and vases
from the earliest periods of Mesopotamian civilization. Thus at Nippur
the American excavators unearthed a vase made of sandstone, bearing an
inscription of Utug, patesi or priest-king of Kish, the writing of which
was even more archaic than that on the mace-head of Mesilim, king of
Kish (cf. p. 185, Fig. 26) and, therefore, presumably of an earlier
date; it seems to have been dedicated to En-lil as a thank-offering, an
incidental testimony to the important place which the god of Nippur must
have occupied even at this extremely remote period. So, too, a vase of
white calcite stalagmite, bearing an inscription of Urzage, a king of
Kish belonging to about the same period, was dedicated to En-lil and his
spouse Nin-lil.

Stone vases have similarly been found at Tellô, while the fragments of a
number of stone vases made of white calcite stalagmite and bearing an
inscription of Lugal-zaggisi, the king of Umma who sacked Lagash in the
reign of Urukagina the last king of the first dynasty, were found on the
same site, and we learn from the inscriptions on these vase-fragments
that they were dedicated by Lugal-zaggisi to En-lil at E-kur. A fragment
of an alabaster vase bearing the name of Urukagina is now preserved in
the British Museum, and an onyx vase, dedicated to the goddess Bau, was
discovered in the neighbourhood of Ur-Ninâ’s building, while a large
basalt bowl of Eannatum was found on the same site, and the fragments of
a limestone vase, bearing an inscription of Entemena, a later king of
Lagash, were discovered beneath the temple of En-lil at Nippur. So also
at Jôkha, the site of the ancient city of Umma, fragments of vases and
objects made of stone were brought to light, while at Fâra, the ruined
mounds of which represent one of the earliest sites of Sumerian
civilization in the Babylonian plain, vases and cups made of various
stones including marble were recovered. These were generally of a
simple character, though sometimes they were decorated. But Bismâya,
thanks to the scientific excavations carried on by Harper and Banks for
the University of Chicago, has probably yielded a richer and more varied
harvest of stone pots than any other site in Babylonia. They comprise
bowls, phials, dishes, cups, mugs, and vessels of every conceivable
shape, the tallest measuring about twelve inches in height, and the
largest about twelve inches in diameter, while the thickness of the
walls varies from an eighth of an inch to just under an inch and a
quarter.[147] The stones from which they are made vary almost as much as
their dimensions, and include white marble, yellow marble, alabaster,
yellow limestone, pinkish onyx, porphyry, green porphyry, blue
freestone, soft limestone, and grey sandstone. Hardly any of these
manifold vessels were found complete, but Banks was able to reconstruct
a large number from the fragments that remained. They were all polished;
some were engraved with a comparatively simple design, while others were
elaborately decorated with the figures of men and animals, and some were
inlaid with ivory and precious stones. The inscriptions were few and
fragmentary, the name of the king or the temple mentioned being
otherwise unknown, while the writing is extremely archaic. That part of
the mound in which these stone vase fragments were discovered contains
only the plano-convex bricks characteristic of the old Sumerian period,
which further indicates the extreme antiquity of this large collection
of stone-ware, and indeed stone-ware seems to have been to a great
extent supplanted by the more economical and more easily wrought clay
pottery, at a comparatively early date, as was the case in ancient
Egypt. Most of the vases from Bismâya are circular in shape, though
examples of oval, oblong, square, and shell-shaped vases were also
found. The stone most commonly used was marble, due no doubt to its
comparative softness and adaptability to the chisel. The curvature and
general symmetry of these vases is so perfect that, according to Banks,
a lathe or something answering the same purpose as a lathe, must have
been used. The softer stones at this period were doubtless worked with
flint instruments, as in the case of the earliest cylinder-seals. The
purposes which these vases served must have been as diversified as the
vases themselves. Some appear to have been lamps, others drinking-cups;
some were probably used as water, wine, or oil jars, while others may
have been used as wash-basins; some were used for articles of toilet,
and in one vessel traces of _henna_[148] were still visible in one
compartment and traces of _kohl_ in the other.

[Illustration: FIG. 90, _a_.]

[Illustration: FIG. 89.]

[Illustration: FIG. 90, _b_.]

Of the stone-ware of the early period of Semitic supremacy in the
Euphrates valley, a gracefully curved vase of white marble belonging to
Urumush[149] king of Kish, which was discovered at Nippur during the
course of the excavations carried on by the University of Pennsylvania,
and is now preserved in the Pennsylvania Museum, affords us a good
example; while of the stone-ware of the somewhat later period of
Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin, the Semitic kings of Agade, a white
alabaster “phial” (cf. Fig. 89) discovered at Tellô and bearing the name
of Narâm-Sin is an excellent specimen. It consists in a well-rounded
flask or phial seven and a half inches high, and is inscribed with the
words “Narâm-Sin, King of the four regions.” Another small stone vase of
this king made of marble was acquired by Oppert during the ill-fated
expedition of 1855, the inscription upon which gave the additional
information that the stone from which the vase was made came from Magan,
but this valuable relic shared the fate of the other monuments and
tablets recovered by Fresnel and Oppert, and went down in the Tigris on
May 23rd, 1855.[150]

Many stone vases of the late period of Sumerian supremacy have been
brought to light, but none so interesting or so illuminating as that of
Gudea, patesi of Lagash (cf. Figs. 90 _a_, _b_). This unique vase of
dark green steatite is between eight and nine inches high, and rests
upon a narrow circular base. It is furnished with a very small spout
which could only allow but a small quantity of liquid to pass at a time.
The decoration is of the most elaborate order: two entwined serpents
occupy the central part of the design, their sinuous coils encircled
round a long staff traversing the whole height of the vase, while their
tongues are seen touching the edge of the vase near the embryonic spout.
The serpents are flanked by two strangely composite and highly mythical
creatures which face each other; in the grasp of each is a long spear
provided with a semicircular lateral handle, an exact replica of the
copper weapon discovered by De Sarzec at Tellô,[151] the site where this
vase was also found. These winged monsters have the body and head of a
serpent, and are provided with claws and talons, while their tails find
their fitting termination in the sting of a scorpion; their necks are
encircled with twisted tails, and their head-gears consist in a kind of
horned cap, an indication of the supernatural powers of these
extraordinary monstrosities. But in spite of the highly mythical
character of these creatures, the artist has not lost sight of the
general appearance of the serpent that has, as it were supplied the
material and natural foundation for the unnatural additions which his
imaginative mind has superimposed, the scaly skin of the snake being
portrayed by means of inlaid fragments of marble. The inscription
informs us that this vase was dedicated to the god Nin-gish-zi-da by
Gudea for the prolongation of his life.

Another stone vessel of a somewhat unique character is the dark
alabaster bowl in the Nimrûd Central Saloon of the British Museum; it is
sculptured in relief with a scene of Gilgamesh and Ea-bani wrestling
with lions, but unfortunately it is in a very poor state of

[Illustration: FIG. 91.—A, B, C (British Museum, Nos. 93088, 91596,
90952). D (after Clay).]

But the practice of making vases of stone did not cease with the decline
of Babylonian supremacy; the Assyrians imitated their cultural
progenitors in this as in all other matters. The most interesting stone
vase belonging to the Assyrian era is that bearing an inscription of
Sennacherib (cf. Fig. 91, A). It is a kind of amphora though the two
handles are nearly worn away. The shape and proportions of this vase are
very artistic, and the curves well rounded off. In general contour it
somewhat resembles the little glass vase of Sargon, a yet more
remarkable relic of antiquity (cf. Fig. 91, C). Another interesting
example of Assyrian stone-ware is seen in Fig. 91, B; the vase, which is
decorated round the neck, bears the traces of a well-nigh effaced
inscription, and like the small glass vase of this same king is engraved
with a small lion. It is shaped differently from most of the stone vases
of the period, and has a charm and beauty all its own. Various glass
vessels and tubes were recovered from the ruins of Babil, Kouyunjik and
elsewhere, but their date is in nearly all cases an uncertain quantity.
Assyrian and Babylonian glass would appear to have been made in the
ordinary way, i.e. by a mixture of silex or sand with alkalis, while it
was fashioned into the required shape by means of a blow-pipe, and
finished off with a turning machine, of which the marks are sometimes
still visible. This is the case with the little vase of Sargon
illustrated above.[152]

Stone-ware of the late Babylonian period is well illustrated by the
jar-fragment of Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.) published by W. L. Nash in
the _Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology_ (1910, p. 180).
The inscription is very brief and apart from the king’s name only has
the numeral “one,” which was probably followed by a measure, but the
name of the latter is broken away. This stone jar like the Assyrian jars
differs from most of the inscribed vessels of earlier times, which
usually bear a dedicatory inscription, while in shape it is not unlike
the Assyrian jars seen in Fig. 91.

Allusion has elsewhere been made (cf. p. 86) to the marble vase bearing
the name of Xerxes in cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics, but a number
of similar vases and fragments bearing an inscription of this same king
have also been brought to light. One such vase was found by Newton at
Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, the fragments of another being found by
Loftus at Susa, while a third (cf. Fig. 91, D) recently acquired by the
Babylonian Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, is published by
Clay in the _Museum Journal_ (1910, I, p. 6). It bears the royal
inscription of Xerxes the Great written in four different languages,
Persian, Elamite, Babylonian and Egyptian, the last-named being written
in the old hieroglyphics, and the other three in cuneiform. The vase
measures nine and seven-eighths inches in height, and eight and
fifteen-sixteenths inches in diameter.

[Illustration: FIG. 92.—“Pre-Sargonic cup.”

[Illustration: FIG. 93.—“Earliest vase from Nippur.”

(Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 407.)]

Although stone-ware appears to have been used more frequently in the
earlier periods of Mesopotamian civilization, it must be not supposed
that terra-cotta pottery was not also used by the ancient Sumerians and
early Semites. A vast quantity of pottery comprising bowls, phials, flat
vases, chalice goblets, oval pots and vessels of every description,
size, shape and form has been recovered from Tellô, Nippur, Fâra and
other recently excavated sites in Babylonia, and indeed so numerous and
so manifold are the vessels in question that only a long and systematic
study of the mass of material now available, as thorough and exhaustive
as that made by Professor Flinders Petrie of Egyptian pottery, would
justify any attempt to classify and date the different specimens. The
earlier excavations in Mesopotamia similarly yielded a large number of
terra-cotta pots and jars, but unfortunately there is so much
uncertainty as to the locality from which many of them came, and even
where that is known, there is generally no means of ascertaining in what
strata they were found—(as is unhappily also the case with a good deal
of the pottery discovered in recent years)—and as they further bear no
inscriptions, any attempted systematization in our present state of
knowledge is inevitably based largely on unproved and unprovable
hypotheses. Two good examples of early pre-Sargonic pottery are seen in
Figs. 92, 93. Both the cup (Fig. 92) and the vase (Fig. 93) were
discovered in the pre-Sargonic strata at Nippur.[153] Many other
interesting specimens of early pottery were discovered on the same site,
some being apparently black in colour, others being red. In a room
beneath the pavement of Narâm-Sin two vases were brought to light which
illustrate the remarkable differences in size and shape exhibited by
early Babylonian pottery, one of these vases being bell-shaped and
having a flat bottom twice as large in diameter as its mouth, while the
other, a little over two feet high and one foot nine inches across the
top, was decorated with a rope pattern.[154]

Among the minor results attending the excavations at Bismâya was the
recovery of a vast number of terra-cotta vases, some entire, others only
fragmentary.[155] They were found in graves, wells, and drains as well
as in the various platforms contained in the mound, and in the plain
itself. Between twenty-five and twenty-six feet below the surface two
large burial urns were discovered, while at a depth of some thirty-four
feet a smaller urn was brought to light. The earliest examples of
pottery were found more than forty-four feet below the surface. In the
larger vases and urns the clay appears to have been mixed with chopped
straw,[156] the clay itself being as a rule of a yellowish brown colour,
but according to Banks, the clay was burnt to a deep brown or black
colour in the earliest times. The wheel seems to have been used at all
periods, though not to the exclusion of hand-made pottery. One of the
pre-Sargonic vases from this site was apparently formed by placing the
clay on a flat surface, which the potter revolved with one hand while
fashioning the clay into the required shape with the other hand; as
Banks suggests, this may have been the origin of the potter’s wheel. The
vessels from Bismâya vary in height from a little over an inch to just
under thirty inches, and they exhibit every conceivable kind of shape.
The surfaces of most of them are plain, but some are decorated with
dots, squares, concentric circles and grooves. Two large vases are
painted with the marks of their makers or owners in black, but these are
regarded by Banks as post-Babylonian. Some of the vases are provided
with covers, the cover of one of the funeral urns consisting in a kind
of dish; sometimes, in the case of vases which were buried, a woven
cloth was fastened over the mouth and sealed with clay. These cloths
have of course long since perished, but the marks of the threads on the
clay are still visible.[157] One vase is shaped like a boat, while
another interesting terra-cotta object discovered on this site is a lamp
terminating in the head of an ox.

Some very unique specimens of Babylonian black pottery with incised
lines filled with white paste were discovered by Capt. Cros at Tellô.
These vases were not only decorated with geometrical designs, but also
with fish, boats, water-fowl and other river scenes.[158] This type of
pottery is of frequent occurrence in the ancient world. It has been
found in Susa on the east, while in the west it penetrated as far as
Spain. Of Babylonian pottery belonging to the Kassite period, mention
should especially be made of three vases discovered by Peters and Haynes
at Nippur. These pots are decorated with green and yellow stripes, and
were enclosed in an urn together with three small boxes, the largest of
which was ornamented with knobs. Along with these articles more than a
hundred discs and crescents pierced for the purposes of suspension, and
mostly coloured black or white, were also found. One of the best
examples of late pottery is the delicately-shaped and well-preserved
amphora discovered by Koldewey at Babylon,[159] but it must probably be
assigned to the Roman period.



_Photos. Mansell_ _British Museum_


With regard to Assyrian pottery we are in a still greater state of
ignorance, in spite of the wealth of material at hand. Large quantities
of pottery were brought to light by Botta, Layard and other early
excavators, but unfortunately their archæological importance seemed as
nothing compared with colossal bulls, sculptured bas-reliefs, or even
prosaic clay tablets, and the result of this fortunately bygone apathy
is that the site from which they came is sometimes not ascertainable,
while on hardly any occasion is it possible to discover the building or
immediate locality where they were found.

But the scientific excavations carried on by Koldewey and Andrae at
Ashur are calculated to yield more satisfactory results in this
connection. These excavations have already thrown light on the early
pottery of Assyria, in the discovery of clay vessels decorated with
black and red geometrical designs and assigned to the prehistoric

Another interesting specimen of Assyrian pottery found on the same site
consists in a large round vase decorated about the top and having two

In Pl. XXXIII we have a miscellaneous group of pottery from the ruined
mounds of Nineveh, and a similar group from Nimrûd. The pots here
displayed show much variation both in size and form, but little more can
be said about them. Apart, however, from the complete vessels in clay,
a number of fragments of bowls have been recovered bearing inscriptions
of kings of Assyria who reigned between 1140-681 B.C. These inscriptions
are principally concerned with the various building-operations
undertaken during the reign of the king in question. Were these bowls
complete they would be of immense importance in arriving at some
definite idea as to the shapes and sizes of vases in vogue at the
different periods to which they belong. But as fortune or misfortune has
it, hardly any of the well-preserved cups and bowls as yet recovered
bear any inscription or design at all, and this is one of the great
difficulties with which the student of Babylonian and Assyrian pottery
has to contend. Sometimes a coloured glaze was applied to the surface of
terra-cotta vessels, but to what extent this practice prevailed in early
times it is hard to say.

Probably the two most striking pots yielded by the excavations are those
numbered 91941 and 91950 in the British Museum collections. The former
is a large jar nineteen inches high and eighteen and three-quarter
inches in diameter, upon which is portrayed the figure of a man with the
tail of a goat and the claws of an eagle, while the broken remains of
one handle are still preserved. The latter is a six-handled vase two
feet six inches high, on the body of which rude figures and dragon-like
animals are depicted, but both of these vases probably belong to
post-Assyrian times.


The full dress of the earliest Sumerians comprised nothing more
elaborate than a skirt fastened round the waist and probably made of
wool. But the taste for decoration shown by all primitive peoples is
evinced by the Sumerians at a very early date, and they seek to relieve
the dead monotony of the skirt by edging the bottom with a fringe (cf.
Figs. 25, 52), the fringe on the earliest monuments being formed by a
series of pointed tags. In the time of Ur-Ninâ, the archaically fringed
skirt has given place to an elaborately flounced and pleated skirt—at
least in the case of kings and magnates (cf. Figs. 26, 27), but the
upper part of the body was left entirely bare; people of particularly
high rank are however sometimes seen wearing a skirt with an upper part
attached, which covered the left shoulder as is the case with the leader
of the procession on Ur-Ninâ’s tablet (cf. Fig. 26), though it is
noticeable that Ur-Ninâ himself here has no clothing on the upper part
of his body. Later on the king of Lagash still wears the flounced skirt,
but has another garment over it: this upper garment was also apparently
made of wool, and passed over the left shoulder and under the right arm
(cf. Pl. XII); as this is, however, a battle scene, the upper garment
may be part of the king’s military insignia. This custom of leaving the
right arm and shoulder free obtained right down to the time of Gudea
(cf. Pl. XXIII) and Khammurabi (cf. Pl. XIV).

The heads of the majority of the figures on the early sculptures are
hairless and beardless, though as we have seen (cf. p. 183) long hair
and a pronounced beard were not infrequently worn, the hair on the
head—possibly a wig—sometimes being allowed to hang down the neck (cf.
Fig. 25, B, C), sometimes being gathered up behind and secured by a
fillet (cf. Pl. XII). This seems to have been done by the king when on
active service, doubtless with a view to making his helmet more
comfortable and secure. As nearly all these early figures are without
hats or head-gear of any kind, we are almost entirely in ignorance as to
the nature of their head-coverings—if, indeed, they had any. Sometimes
feathers were worn (cf. Fig. 25, A), while a figure resembling
Gilgamesh on one of the most ancient Sumerian bas-reliefs (cf.
_Découvertes_, Pl. I, 1) in existence, has a flat head-gear of
indeterminate character, the deity on the same archaic sculpture wearing
what appears to be an early form of the horned head-dress of the gods in
later times.

The dress of early Sumerian women is somewhat uncertain; if we might
assume the form of dress shown on the little stone statuette discovered
by De Sarzec at Tellô (cf. Fig. 33, p. 224) to be typical, the feminine
dress of the period would appear to have consisted in a flounced woollen
skirt hung from the left shoulder, the right arm and shoulder being
exposed. The length of the fillet-bound hair in the statuette referred
to removes all doubt as to the sex, and it is noteworthy that the dress
of this Sumerian woman is exactly the same as that of the individual on
Ur-Ninâ’s stele referred to above, and of course the personage there may
conceivably be a woman also (cf. further p. 186). But the little copper
statuettes of women belonging to the same period always show a nude
bust, it is therefore probable that the women of the time generally wore
an ordinary skirt like the men, the shoulder-suspended garments being
reserved for the élite.

The dress of royalties and grandees differed however from that of the
commonalty in quality rather than in character: thus the skirts of all
Ur-Ninâ’s courtiers—the distinguished leader of the procession alone
being excepted—are much the same as that of their royal master; but the
quality is very different, the one being entirely plain, the other
extremely elaborate.

In later times what had been the exception seemingly becomes the rule,
and in Gudea’s period the left shoulder was always covered by the folds
of the mantle-like garment then in vogue; while the Semite Narâm-Sin, of
yet earlier date than Gudea, wears a plaid passing over his left
shoulder and wrapped around his body, leaving the right arm similarly
free. The pleated plaid worn by Narâm-Sin finds a striking parallel in
the garments worn by Nin-gish-zi-da and the accompanying deity on a
Gudea stele in the Berlin Museum (cf. _Sum. and Sem._, Taf. VII). The
royal head-gear of Gudea differs from that of later times, and probably
from that worn by the earlier rulers of Lagash: it consists in an
embroidered turban, differing entirely from the conical-shaped cap worn
by Narâm-Sin on the Pir-Hussein stele, and the similar shaped crowns of
the later Assyrian kings, but bearing some resemblance to that worn by
Khammurabi on his famous code-stele (cf. Plates, XXIII, XIV; Fig. 31).

But while the Semite Narâm-Sin wears a long beard, the Sumerian Gudea is
still beardless. So too the Semite Khammurabi wears a long beard, but
the mantle slung from his left shoulder is not unlike that of Gudea,
while the vesture of the god Shamash on the same stele is pleated like
that of Narâm-Sin, though the material would appear to be different. In
a later relief of the time of Nabû-aplu-iddina, king of Babylon about
870 B.C., the god Shamash wears a striped robe with sleeves, and the
practice of leaving the right arm and shoulder exposed seems to have by
this time fallen into desuetude (cf. Pl. XIV).

Of the dress of the women in the days of Gudea we have a good
illustration in Pl. XXIII. She wears a gracefully fringed mantle, which
was apparently[161] first pressed over the breasts and carried under the
arms, after which it was crossed at the back, the two ends being brought
over the shoulders and made to hang symmetrically in front.

The grave-deposits have afforded abundant evidence of the extensive use
of jewellery even in the earliest Sumerian times, thus at Fâra necklaces
of amethyst, coral, lapis lazuli, mother of pearl and agate were found,
while other early sites yield similar testimony.

For information regarding the military accoutrements of the early
Sumerians we are mainly dependent on the bas-reliefs of the period, of
which the Vulture Stele is the most important. The long lance or spear,
which was apparently grasped by both hands (cf. Pl. XII), was clearly
the principal weapon of offence, while the axe, the dart, a club or
mace, a curved weapon—generally hitherto regarded as a throwing-stick or
boomerang—and a lance were also in use. Very few Sumerian weapons have
been brought to light, but in addition to those enumerated in the
chapter on Metals, mention may be made of an archaic axe-head made of
agate, now in the American Museum of Natural History;[162] the
characters with which it is inscribed are somewhat more wedge-shaped
than those found on the monuments of Gudea, and it may accordingly be
assigned to a rather later date. Another axe-head, also made of agate,
and inscribed with early line characters, is in the Metropolitan Museum,
New York,[163] while a number of baked clay balls and some small stone
eggs, as well as copper arrows, spears, axes and stone clubs were
discovered in the pre-Sargonic strata at Nippur. The discovery of
arrows belonging to such an early date is of considerable interest, as
it has been contended that the bow and arrow were introduced by the
Semites chiefly owing to the fact that it has been thought that these
weapons were not represented in early Sumerian art. But a very early
example of the bow in Babylonian art is afforded by an archaic shell
cylinder-seal published by Ward.[164] The human beings and gods on this
seal are clad in the Sumerian short skirt and not in the Semitic plaid,
while the occurrence of a bison on the top of a mountain, an animal
which is only represented on very early seals, further argues the
antiquity of the cylinder-seal in question, and therefore of the use of
the bow and arrow depicted upon it. The discovery of clay balls and
stone missiles similarly appear to afford evidence of the use of the
sling at a very much earlier period than was hitherto supposed.

[Illustration: FIG. 94.]

It is interesting to trace the history of the boomerang-shaped weapon
shouldered by one of the figures on the archaic fragment of the circular
bas-relief reproduced in Fig. 25, B. The curved weapon[165] may have
originally been a throwing-stick or boomerang, though its shape is the
only argument in support of this theory. But whatever its original use
may have been, there is evidence that a weapon of this shape was wielded
as a club or primitive sword at a very early period. In a sculpture
belonging to a slightly later period than the above-mentioned
bas-relief, the weapon in question has lost its simplicity and is no
longer made in one piece but is composed of three narrow pieces held
together by a number of rings. Were this curiously shaped implement only
found in the hands of rulers or dignitaries, the rings might merely be
decorative accessories, but its occurrence in the hand of a huntsman
attacking a lion, (cf. Fig. 78) makes it incumbent that we should seek
for some more adequate and practical reason for the existence of these
rings. Doubtless this later form was adopted with a view to increasing
the efficiency of the weapon. The weapon is here used at close quarters,
and was clearly not used as a throwing-stick at this period, but rather
as a kind of sabre. At an early date the Sumerian must have sought for
some means of rendering his weapon more serviceable, and have conceived
the idea of substituting a blade of flint or obsidian, and in point of
fact numerous edged pieces of flint and obsidian as well as primitive
saw-blades with teeth have actually been found in early Babylonian
ruins. The problem of affixing this blade to the handle or shaft, would
find its natural solution in fashioning the latter, of two or more
pieces between which the obsidian or flint blade might be inserted, both
wood and blade being kept in place by rings; of its early use as a club
or sabre we have evidence on the archaic shell reproduced in Fig. 78,
where the huntsman is seen holding a curved implement which is composed
of three pieces of wood bound together by rings, as on the Vulture
Stele, it is obviously not employed here as a throwing-stick but as a
weapon for use at close quarters (cf. also Fig. 94, A. B).

In the later period of Gudea we find the same style of weapon in use.
Upon a bas-relief recovered by Commandant Cros from Tellô, and belonging
to Gudea, we see a curved weapon (cf. Fig. 94, C)[166] terminating in a
lion’s head and having a blade which was apparently inserted in a
longitudinal slit made in the wood. Sometimes these curved weapons were
made of one piece of metal, as was the case with the two examples
discovered by Commandant Cros in an early Babylonian grave, one of which
is reproduced in Fig. 94, D. Both of these weapons are made of copper
and were found in a coffin consisting of two bell-shaped pots cemented
together by bitumen. The one in the figure is the more elaborate of the
two, and unlike its companion, has the handle still preserved while its
total length is about sixteen inches. The edge of the blade was of
course on the outside of the curve, the instrument thus resembling a
scimitar or short curved sword. It is thus possible that the scimitar,
or at least the archetype of the scimitar owes its origin to the
Sumerians.[167] The other weapon is of a more primitive character and
recalls the earlier examples afforded by the bas-reliefs more vividly,
while its blade is double edged. In Assyrian times the curved end
becomes quasi-circular in form and the outer edge is furnished with
teeth, as is the case with the sceptre which Ashur-naṣir-pal holds in
his hand (Pl. XXIV). The arms borne by Eannatum himself as represented
on the Vulture Stele are the curved weapon already alluded to, a number
of darts some of which are double pointed, and a long lance. Eannatum is
in the act of piercing the head of a vanquished foe with his lance,
which he holds horizontally over his head at the extreme end. According
to Commandant Cros, the lance is used in exactly the same way by the
Arabs of Irak to-day. It is first held loosely in the middle, while the
action consists in throwing it forcibly through the hand till the lower
end of it is reached, but it is not allowed to escape from the hand
altogether; the weapon is therefore used in part as a spear, and in part
as a javelin.

For information regarding the military accoutrements in use at the time
of Shar-Gâni-sharri and Narâm-Sin we are mainly dependent on the stele
of the last-named monarch (cf. Pl. XIII), and the bas-relief fragments
reproduced in Fig. 28, B, C. The bow and arrow would appear to be the
principal weapons used by the Semites, though the spear and the axe also
occur on early Semitic monuments. One noticeable feature in these two
sculptures is the absence of any kind of shield.

The cylinder-seals contribute little towards the solution of the
manifold problems incidental to a study of early military affairs, as
those seals which are engraved with battle-scenes are for the most part
Persian in origin.

To attempt to describe the complete wardrobe of the Assyrians would be
almost as difficult as to give a full and comprehensive account of
English dress to-day. The costumes are so various, and often so
finely-wrought, that even a brief review of the different “modes” would
far exceed the bounds of a single chapter. The king’s robes are, of
course, the most magnificent and most elaborate both in arrangement and
decoration. In Pl. XV we see Ashur-naṣir-pal, king of Assyria (885-860
B.C.) arrayed in his ceremonial robes. In comparison with the festive
garments of his successors, they are simple and inornate, and are merely
a replica of those worn by the mythical being behind, the only
difference being that those of the king are arranged so as to conceal
both his legs, the exposure of the royal leg being apparently out of
accord with kingly dignity. The under-garment seems to be a fringed robe
or chasuble, over which a long, deeply-fringed mantle is arranged; both
the king and his divine attendant wear a broad waist-band into which two
daggers are thrust; but the mantle itself was apparently fastened by
means of cords ending in tassels. The king’s head-dress, however, is
entirely different from that of his follower; it is shaped somewhat like
a mitre, two tails being similarly attached to the back. The royal tiara
worn by the later kings of Assyria conforms to the same type, only it is
more richly decorated and exhibits some variation in regard to its
shape. It would appear to have been coloured, if we may trust the
evidence afforded by the enamelled bricks from Khorsabad,[168] the
colours being red, white and yellow, the latter perhaps being intended
to represent gold braid. Judging from its general appearance, the
head-dress itself must have been made of cloth.

Both figures here (Pl. XV) wear a bracelet on either wrist and two
armlets on their sinewy arms, while a necklace encircles their bull-like
necks. Ashur-naṣir-pal, like all Assyrian kings, has a thick crop of
hair and a very strong beard. Shalmaneser II, his son and successor,
wears much the same dress as his father and the same conical head-gear
(cf. Fig. 44), but Sennacherib one hundred and twenty years later is no
longer content with the simple yet dignified dress of Ashur-naṣir-pal
and Shalmaneser, but assumes a far richer and costlier set of robes (cf.
Fig. 31). The royal mantle is not merely decorated with a fringe but is
most elaborately embroidered throughout, while his crown is also far
more ornate than those worn by his Nimrûd predecessors, but his attitude
is precisely the same as that of Ashur-naṣir-pal in Pl. XV. Both kings
are holding a bow in their left hand and two arrows in their right. The
regal and ceremonial costume of Ashur-bani-pal contrasts similarly with
that of Ashur-naṣir-pal and his immediate successors—his dress
resembling that of Sennacherib in its general ornateness (cf. Pl. XX)
while even the costume which he wears while reclining at meat in his
garden is far more elaborate than that worn by Ashur-naṣir-pal on the
highest ceremonial occasions (cf. Pl. XXI).

Some uncertainty exists regarding the dress-materials used by the
Assyrians. Many garments were doubtless made of wool or woollen stuffs
as in the other period, but a kind of cotton was also used, for
Sennacherib states that he imported trees that bore wool or hair, from
the south, and that the wool or hair was subsequently clipped and
utilized for the manufacture of garments.

There is the same uncertainty as to the materials used in embroidery,
but there is no doubt about the skill of the embroiderer, who must have
been a veritable artist, if we may judge from the bas-relief
representations of his work, a good example of which is reproduced in
Layard, Pl. 9. He clearly did not confine himself to designs but aspired
to artistic representations and scenic effects. Conventional palm-trees,
and four-winged monsters are the most conspicuous features. One of
these monsters is grasping one of the back legs of a lion in either
hand, while the lions are making ruthless attacks on passively resisting

Women are seldom portrayed on the Assyrian bas-reliefs, but we at all
events know that the lady who had the honour of being Ashur-bani-pal’s
queen was quite as richly clad as her royal master (cf. Pl. XXI), while
both wear ornamental fillets round their heads. Jewellery seems to have
been prized and loved by the Assyrian king and his courtiers almost as
much as by the women of to-day, and the demand for “novelties” must
have taxed the jeweller’s inventive faculties to the utmost. Not only
were armlets and bracelets in requisition, but also necklaces,
ear-rings, and trinkets. The latter generally took the form of divine or
astrological symbols, one of the most interesting ornaments worn by the
king being exactly like a Maltese cross, and closely resembles the cross
found on Kassite seals (cf. Fig. 71). The trinkets were suspended on a
cord which encircled the royal neck, above which the real necklace is
seen. Both bracelets and ear-rings show great variety in design and no
little skill in workmanship. Unfortunately but few articles of jewellery
(apart from a number of bead-necklaces[169]) have been recovered, and of
the majority of these it is impossible to tell the date, but thanks to
the bas-reliefs we can gain a very fair idea of the proficiency to which
the jeweller’s art had been brought at this period, though we cannot be
sure of the metals used in each particular case. In Fig. 95 we have a
group of bracelets of manifold shapes and designs, the rosette as usual
playing the leading part in most of the decorative devices. In A we have
an example of a royal necklace; it is simple and neat in design and
presents a striking contrast to that worn by one of the winged figures
from Nimrûd (cf. B) which is decorated at the opening with heads of
animals. The ear-rings worn by kings, warriors, priests and mythical
beings vary quite as much as the bracelets, though there is a certain
similarity between most of them (cf. Fig. 95). The drops are in nearly
all cases long, and they frequently have a cross piece which gives them
the general appearance of a “crux ansata.”

[Illustration: FIG. 95.]

The toilet requisites of the Babylonians and Assyrians were doubtless
much the same as those in use to-day, though but few articles from the
dressing-table have been recovered, the most notable of which are the
combs now preserved in the Louvre (cf. Figs. 96, 97). They are made of
ebony and measure about three and a half inches across, while they are
elaborately decorated in the centre with the figures of sphinxes or
lions, sometimes realized in open-work, sometimes in relief. The teeth
on one side are large and few, those on the other being slender and
numerous. A similar comb was discovered by Koldewey at Babylon, the
centre of which is decorated with the figure of a winged bull.[170]

[Illustration: FIG. 96.]

[Illustration: FIG. 97.]

Sandals formed the principal footwear of civilians—royalties or
commoners as the case may be—though the feet were often left bare. The
ordinary sandal had a thin sole and a small cap for the heel, apparently
made of strips of leather which were sometimes coloured red and blue
alternately, though more frequently the entire sandal was of a reddish
hue, while it was held in position by a loop round the great toe, and by
a string which was laced across the instep and tied in a bow. This was
the type of sandal worn by Sargon. There was, however, an entirely
different sandal in vogue at the time of Ashur-bani-pal; the sole of
this later sandal was of considerable thickness, especially at the heel,
while the upper leather did not merely form a protecting cap to the heel
but covered the whole side of the foot. But shoes were used as well as
sandals as early as the time of Sennacherib; those represented on the
bas-reliefs are of a clumsy make, though finely decorated with crescents
and rosettes, and they were seemingly laced in front.

[Illustration: FIG. 98. Foot-spearman (1st period, Nimrûd).]

[Illustration: FIG. 99. Foot-archer (1st period, Nimrûd).]

But the military uniforms of the Assyrians show far greater variation
than the apparel of kings, eunuchs and attendants. In the early Assyrian
period the foot-soldiers wore a short tunic and a fringed girdle, their
heads being protected by a pointed helmet; the arms, legs, neck and feet
were generally bare, though the latter were occasionally shod with plain
sandals. The infantry included archers, spearmen and swordsmen, while
the archers were often further armed with swords and sometimes with
maces, and appear to have formed the pick of the foot-soldiers. All
three divisions were protected by small hand-shields, the bowmen often
being attended by another warrior armed with a spear, who acted as
shield-bearer. In the reign of Shalmaneser II we frequently see the
bowmen clad in a long coat of mail reaching from the neck to the ankles
(cf. Fig. 44), but in the Sargon period the difference in the equipment
of the foot-soldiers becomes more pronounced. There are at least three
different kinds of archer. First of all there was the light-armed
bowman, who was practically naked but for a loin-cloth, which supported
a quiver, and a head fillet (cf. Fig. 100). Next came the more simply
equipped of the heavy-armed (cf. Fig. 101), who was clad in a coat of
mail reaching from the neck to the waist, beneath which was a fringed
tunic extending to the knees, while their feet were generally protected
by sandals, and the head covered by a pointed helmet. The principal
feature which differentiated the appearance of the most heavily armed
archers from that of the foregoing was the long deeply fringed tunic
(cf. Fig. 102), over which a coat of mail was worn similar to that worn
by the archers of the second class.

[Illustration: FIG. 100.]

[Illustration: FIG. 101.]

[Illustration: FIG. 102.]

The spearmen of the period are clad in much the same way as the
medium-armed archers, the most noticeable point about them being their
helmets, which are surmounted by a crest of one kind or another (cf.
Fig. 29), while another frequent peculiarity in their equipment is the
arrangement of their belts which cross each other on the chest and back.
Their feet are generally bare, though sometimes they are shod in
sandals, and occasionally in a low boot.[171]

Sargon’s son, Sennacherib, appears to have largely reorganized the
infantry and instituted fresh corps. The slingers seemingly make their
first appearance in this king’s reign, though the sling was known in
Babylonia even before the time of Shar-Gâni-sharri (cf. above, p. 341).
On the bas-reliefs of Sennacherib we see him fully armed with helmet,
coat of mail, tunic reaching to the knees, close-fitting hose and a
short boot, none of which can have added to the efficiency of his
services. There were four types of archer, two heavy-armed and two
light-armed. The most heavily armed (cf. Fig. 103) wore a tunic, a coat
of mail reaching to the waist, hose, short boots, and a conical helmet,
and are protected by long shields carried by a shield-bearer. The next
class have no shield protection, and their legs and feet are entirely
bare (cf. Fig. 104). The better equipped of the light-armed are clad in
a short tunic, wear a peculiar kind of fillet round their heads, and
sandals on their feet, while they carry short swords at their sides and
quivers on their backs. Last come the lightest equipped archers of all,
who wear a striped tunic[172] reaching down to the knees and somewhat
longer behind than in front (cf. Fig. 105). Their feet, arms and legs
are bare, and fillets form their sole head-gear, while they are seldom
armed with short swords like the preceding.

[Illustration: FIG. 103.]

[Illustration: FIG. 104.]

[Illustration: FIG. 105.]

There were apparently two classes of spearmen in Sennacherib’s army; the
better equipped wear a coat of mail over their tunics, a conical helmet,
hose on their legs, and boots on their feet, while they are generally
armed with a comparatively short spear, a rather large convex shield,
and the usual short sword. The second division are equipped in much the
same way as the light-armed spearmen of Sargon, and wear plain tunics,
cross belts, and crested helmets, but unlike the spearmen of Sargon they
usually have sleeves to their tunics, wear hose on their legs, boots on
their feet, and sometimes carry a long convex shield arched at the top
instead of a round one. Yet another class of foot-soldiers deserve a
mention; these are armed with double-headed axes which they use to cut
down trees and clear the road for the passage of troops. Their equipment
closely resembles that of the better-armed spearmen. The army in
Ashur-bani-pal’s time is much the same as it was in the time of
Sennacherib; it comprised bowmen, spearmen, mace-bearers, warriors armed
with battle-axes and slingers. In regard to the latter it is interesting
to note that the heavy armour of the slingers has been exchanged for a
lighter and more serviceable garb.[173]

The principal weapon of the cavalry in the early period was the bow,
though sword and shield both occur, but were apparently not much used.
It was customary for the mounted archers to be accompanied by another
mounted soldier whose office it was to hold the bridle of the archer’s
horse while the archer was aiming his arrow at the enemy. The attendant
wears a plain tunic and an ordinary cap, while the archer has a pointed
helmet, an embroidered tunic and a sword belt. Their legs and feet are
bare to enable them to sit their horses firmly—the latter being without
saddles. In the time of Sargon the cavalry consisted partly of spearmen,
partly of archers. Saddles or saddle-cloths somewhat resembling those
worn by European cavalry horses to-day were in regular use, while the
unarmed attendants were no longer required, both archers and spearmen
being able to manage their own steeds. The uniforms worn by the cavalry
were similarly much more elaborate than those worn by the mounted
archers of the earlier period. Their tunics are close-fitting, but
expand below the waist into a kind of fringed kilt, they wear hose on
their legs and long boots on their feet, which sometimes reached nearly
up to the knee; the principal weapons borne by the horsemen are bows and
spears, but they are frequently armed with a short sword as well, while
the spearmen occasionally carry a bow and quiver as well as a spear and
a sword (cf. Fig. 106).

[Illustration: FIG. 106.]

In Sennacherib’s time, the ordinary cavalry are equipped in much the
same way; some of the regiments however are heavily armed with a coat of
mail extending to the bottom of the back (cf. Fig. 107). In the
sculptures of Ashur-bani-pal, the horses of the cavalry are sometimes
covered with a large cloth similar to that carried by the chariot steeds
(cf. Fig. 108), over which the saddle-piece is placed, but the equipment
of the cavalry themselves shows little or no variation from that of
former times.

The charioteers form the last division of the Assyrian army to be
briefly considered. The chariot contained at least two persons—the
driver and a warrior; but when the king took the field in person he was
attended by a shield bearer, or sometimes two shield bearers, as well as
by a charioteer. The normal weapon used by the chariot soldier is the
bow, which he generally has full drawn, the arrow on the string; he is
however not infrequently girded with a sword, while a spear is often
lying at his side within easy reach. He is sometimes merely clad in a
tunic, sometimes in a long coat of mail reaching down at least as far
as the knees, but having short sleeves, doubtless with a view to
facilitating the manipulation of the bow. He either discharges his
shafts from the chariot itself, or else dismounts in order to take a
more certain aim; in the latter case the attendant protects the bowmen
by means of a shield which he holds in his left hand, while in his right
hand he holds a spear or sword wherewith to repel any close attack. The
warrior generally wears a helmet which is occasionally furnished with
side and front pieces made of metal scales, calculated to protect the
shoulders, the nape of the neck, and sometimes even the chin, but the
attendant as a rule has no covering for his head.

[Illustration: FIG. 107.]

The chariots were drawn by either two or three horses, but there was
apparently never more than one pole; accordingly when a third horse was
harnessed to the chariot, he must have been attached by a rope or thong,
and was probably taken as a relief-animal to fill the place of one of
the others in the event of either of them being shot through. The
trappings of the horses were often very elaborate, as may be seen in
Figs. 83, while the chariots were also sometimes very ornate. There are
two main types of war-chariot represented on the Assyrian bas-reliefs,
one being characteristic of the earlier period, when Calah (Nimrûd) was
the capital of the empire, the other of the later epoch when the seat of
the government was established at Nineveh. The chariots of the early
period are low and short, the wheels being comparatively small, and as a
rule only having six spokes, while the chariots portrayed on the later
reliefs are generally more capacious and also loftier, while the wheels,
which would appear to be about five feet in diameter, are normally
eight-spoked (cf. Fig. 108). A position in one of these later chariots
consequently gave the warrior a good vantage ground for aiming at the
enemy and also for viewing the situation. The poles of the chariots of
both periods frequently terminate in the head of an animal, an ox or a
horse as the case may be. Sometimes a cross-bar was fixed to the end of
the pole, which also occasionally terminated in the heads of animals,
the cross-bar being at times straight, at others curved.

[Illustration: FIG. 108.]

[Illustration: FIG. 109.]

From this brief description of the military equipment of the Assyrians,
it will be at once manifest how elaborate must have been the
organization of the army. Reference has frequently been made to the
conical-shaped helmets of the soldiers, and the similarly shaped tiaras
of the kings, but it must not be supposed that all Assyrian head-gears
were conical. Some idea of the diversity of head-coverings used in
Assyria may be gained from the selection reproduced in Fig. 109. The
most noteworthy of these is the horned crown in the centre (A), which
was worn by the colossal winged-bulls. The horns which are the symbol of
divinity, occupy a prominent position on the head-coverings of nearly
all Babylonian and Assyrian gods, and their presence on the head-gear of
a human-headed bull is indicative of the divine character with which
they endowed these colossi. The top of this massive crown or hat is
decorated with a row of feathers, while its face is adorned with the
familiar rosettes. In (B) we have a royal tiara, and (C), (D), (E) and
(F) illustrate the different kinds of fillets worn round the head, while
(G) to (M) exhibit the various types of helmets used in the Assyrian

[Illustration: FIG. 110.]

The offensive and defensive weapons of the Assyrians, however, exhibit
even greater variations than their helmets. Few actual weapons have been
preserved, but thanks to the vast quantity of bas-reliefs which Botta
and Layard have rescued from the ruined mounds of Assyria, we are able
to form some idea of the extensiveness of an Assyrian armoury. The
weapons of the ordinary soldier are sufficiently simple in character,
but those which kings, demigods, or viziers wear are often most ornate.
In Fig. 110 we have a selection of the more striking weapons represented
on the bas-reliefs. (A), (B), (C) and (D) show us four different kinds
of pike wielded by the warriors of Ashur; they vary in length and their
handles differ, but they all have a more or less diamond-shaped blade,
while the arrow-heads (E) are shaped in the same manner. The two
extremities of the bow from which the king despatches his unerring
shafts into the heart of the enemy, the lion, or the wild bull, and for
which he also finds use in the performance of religious ceremonies,
often find their termination in the head of a bird (F). But though the
arrows themselves are severely practical in their appearance, the
quivers in which they reposed when “off duty” are more elaborate (cf.
(G)-(L)). The largest of these quivers could accommodate as many as five
arrows (cf. (L)), but the normal number seems to have been four. The
quiver was slung over the back by means of cords (cf. (G), (J) and (L)).
The swords would appear to have been generally straight ((M) (N)),
though sometimes curved (O). The sword-hilt was frequently adorned with
several lions’ heads, while the scabbard itself was often decorated with
lions, the result of which is highly ornamental and effective. The
sceptre was a ceremonial weapon—inoffensive without doubt, but
eloquently symbolic of royalty (cf. (P)), while the dirk (Q) on the
other hand is brandished in a most alarming manner by the composite
monstrosities portrayed on the palace walls of Ashur-naṣir-pal.

[Illustration: FIG. 111.]

But by far the most formidable military invention of the warlike
Assyrians was the battering-ram; the ram was brought to bear upon the
wall of the besieged city by a movable tower, in the shelter of which
the ram could be effectively and safely worked, the tower and the
battering-ram thus forming together a most potent factor in both
offensive and defensive operations. These movable towers were by no
means uniform, but varied both in size and height, sometimes they were
surmounted by towers (cf. Fig. 111 (A)) from which the attacking forces
could shower their arrows upon the beleaguered army with impunity, at
other times they were quite low and shaped liked a torpedo, the larger
ones resting on six wheels (cf. Fig. 44), and the smaller on four (Q).
The ram itself also varied—sometimes it was set at an angle slanting
upwards (A), its projecting extremity being at the same time heavier and
thicker than the shaft, but more usually the ram was fixed horizontally
and pointed like a spear (B), the tower sometimes being armed with two
of these rams (C). The most noticeable of the shields here represented
are the large shields, from behind the shelter of which the bowman could
aim and shoot at his ease, the shield of course being held in position
by a shield-bearer (cf. (D), (E), (F)). These large shields were
generally upright (F), but were often curved at the top to protect the
head of the archer from the missiles of the enemy (D), while sometimes
the whole shield was curved (E). But the lancers required no such
protection, a small hand-shield which they could carry themselves being
the only type of defence which would not completely nullify their
usefulness in the field. These shields varied in shape and size; they
were generally round (cf. (G)-(K)), but sometimes curved and oblong (L),
while at other times they were concave in the body, oval at the top,
straight at the bottom, and decorated with a boss in the centre and an
engraved design round the edge (cf. (N)). Another type of shield was
shaped somewhat like a lozenge (O), but they all alike have their
handles in the centre. They were often most elaborately engraved, the
designs being formed by an arrangement of straight lines ((G) and (P)),
geometrical figures ((H) and (L)), or circles of rosettes ((I) and (J)).
One of the shields illustrated here differs from the rest in having its
outer face notched like the edge of a saw, and must have served
offensive as well as defensive purposes (cf. (M)).

[Illustration: FIG. 112.]

But the Assyrians waged war “terra marique,”—on the sea as well as on
dry land, and in Fig. 112 (A) we have an example of one of the
war-galleys used by Sennacherib in his pursuit of the Babylonian rebels
across the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It is a bireme, i.e. a boat with
two banks of oars; below are the oarsmen, while the warriors are
stationed on an upper deck. The boat is shaped rather like a cutter in
front, but the stern ends off in a sweeping upward curve, and there is a
mast and cross-beam secured by yards in the fore-part of the galley. The
course of the boat is steered by means of two oars worked from behind,
which differ in shape from those used to propel the boat. In (B) we have
another variety of this type of craft: here both ends of the boat are
curved, the extremities being squared off instead of pointed as in (A),
and there is moreover no mast, but in (C) we have a different kind of
boat altogether; it is an open boat with only one bank of oars and there
are no warriors aboard. There are only four rowers and their oars are
totally different from those used in the war-galleys, the oars of the
galleys resembling long shafted spades, while those here are not unlike
hockey sticks. Both prow and stern are curved, the latter terminating in
a horse’s head, and in the centre of the boat there is a mast. The
custom of decorating the ends of a boat with an animal’s head, no doubt
originated among the Phœnicians, who were the maritime people of the
Oriental world. In one of the scenes on the bronze gates from Balâwât we
see Shalmaneser II receiving the tribute of the ships of Tyre and Sidon
(D); these ships, or rather boats, are curved at either end, while both
prow and stern are figured with the heads of camels. Only two men are
required to manipulate the heavily laden craft, one of whom is
apparently steering, while the other is pulling the boat along with the
aid of a very heavy and clumsy-looking oar. But war-galleys were not the
only boats in use in the time of Sennacherib; a lighter and far smaller
boat was employed for the transport of goods (E). The cargo occupies the
centre of this odd little vessel, on either side of which two oarsmen
are busily plying their oars. Strange to say, they appear to be pulling
in opposite directions, but we must possibly attribute this anomaly to
the sculptor’s ignorance of nautical affairs; the oars are quite
different from those employed in the battleships, but they are exactly
the same as those used on the cargo raft above (F); the raft seems to be
loaded with large blocks of stone; the wooden raft by itself is clearly
incapable of sustaining so heavy a weight, and the requisite buoyancy is
attained by fastening inflated skins to the nether part of the raft. A
kind of reed raft seems to have been used for traversing the marshy
districts of Lower Mesopotamia (H), the reeds being tied together by
means of osiers, and the water excluded by a covering of leather or a
thick coating of bitumen. These reed crafts sometimes assume the form of
flat rafts, while at other times they resemble canoes.




Thanks to the indefatigable labours of Père Scheil and M.
Thureau-Dangin, and to the admirable work of M. Genouillac on _Sumerian
Society_, in which that scholar publishes, translates and comments on
many of the early tablets from Tellô, we are able to obtain a very fair
idea of the manners and customs of the Sumerians at the time of the
first dynasty of Lagash.

An investigation of the conditions of any society naturally commences
with a brief consideration of the laws, which regulated the process of
propagation upon which the continuance and prosperity of the community
ultimately depends. It would appear that from the earliest Sumerian
times marriage was regarded in the light of a legal contract, and
divorce could similarly only be effected by legal procedure. But the
Sumerian marriage laws of the time of Lugal-anda and Urukagina differed
from the European laws of to-day in at least one important point, the
contract being made by the man with his father-in-law rather than with
his prospective wife, and consequently in the case of divorce it was the
father-in-law and not the divorced wife who was entitled to

Polyandry was evidently not unknown, for Urukagina had occasion to apply
the utmost rigour of the law to its repression, although it had hitherto
been by no means condoned, but was on the contrary already regarded as a
criminal offence, and not only was this the case, but even polygamy
seems to have been discountenanced, for such expressions as “the wife of
the priest of Nin-girsu,” or “the wife of the patesi” implicitly
suggests that there was only one lady in it, and that there was no
liability to confusion in the matter. It is however quite conceivable
that the patesi had an official wife, just like the priests of Amen, or
the kings of Egypt, the other ladies of the harem not ranking with the
royal spouse or enjoying the same distinguishing appellative, but this
is of course a matter of conjecture. However that may be, there is
abundant evidence to show that the Sumerians compare very favourably
with other primitive peoples in their regard for and treatment of women.
They could act as free agents in the matter of property, and could be
legal witnesses to contracts, while widows were especially safeguarded
against the extortion of those in power, and the very poor were legally
protected against the rapacity of the priest, who exacted a kind of
tithe from the members of the community. Two other social reforms
carried out during this reign are noteworthy in this connection, one
being the abolition of the tax hitherto laid upon the parties to a
divorce, and the other, the reduction of the priests’ burial fees. But
in spite of the checks that it was thus found necessary to place upon
the extortionate priesthood, the service of the gods was deserving of
special recompense, and thus it was that in accordance with this
principle an orphan, the son of a priestess of the goddess Bau, received
a larger pension than other orphans.

But apart from what may be termed domestic and family duties, women were
expected to perform other functions even as early as the time of
Urukagina. Some women devoted themselves to the more menial services of
the gods and attended to the offerings of the sanctuary; others again
were employed as weavers, while another class of women attached to the
court were occupied with the care of sheep, goats and other small
domestic animals. Some again were gate-keepers, and a certain number
pursued the art of hair-dressing.

As might be expected, the trades pursued by men were more numerous and
various. The boat-building trade engaged a considerable number of the
men of Lagash, while carpenters and furniture-makers also appear to
have had plenty to do. The currier’s trade similarly flourished, and
among the more æsthetic trades which were practised, perfumery and
jewellery may be specifically mentioned, while of the proficiency to
which the art of metal-working and stone-carving had been brought, we
have abundant evidence in the numerous bas-reliefs, figures and
statuettes that have come down to us. A large part of the working
population were gardeners or tillers of the soil, for the Babylonians
had long since emerged from the bedouin stage of primitive civilization,
and had settled upon the land, which they cultivated apparently with
great success. Among the domesticated animals of which they made use,
the cow, the sheep, the ass and the goat may be specifically singled
out. The ass was used both for riding and also for draft purposes. The
ox was the principal beast of labour, his services being required both
in the work of irrigation and in the transport of building materials,
though the ass was also sometimes employed for these and similar
purposes. The ox was further used for food, while cows were seemingly
reserved for breeding and for supplying milk, from which they made
butter, and possibly also cheese. The sheep was reared for the double
purpose of providing wool as a material for clothing, and meat for
consumption, some breeds being held in particularly high value for their
wool, while others were specially prized for their tastiness as an
article of diet, though some were utilized for both of these purposes.
It appears to have been the custom to offer the flesh of the sheep in
whole or in part to the gods before mortal man ventured to partake
thereof, the shorn wool being given over to the female weaver of the
harem. The sheep enjoying the especial royal patronage was white in
colour, and was therefore presumably the most uncommon and the most
highly valued, while the commonest breed was brown. The male sheep or
lamb was usually selected for sacrifice to the gods in preference to the
female. The kid seems to have been regarded as a medium of exchange, at
all events rent was paid by means of kids, or sometimes sheep, while
the goat often served as a sacrificial victim as we have seen
elsewhere.[174] The kids belonging to the goddess Bau were tended by the
women of the harem, though also sometimes by herdsmen. Goats as well as
sheep were held in high value for their wool, two species being
particularly singled out, one being known as the white-fleeced goat and
the other as the black-fleeced. Other animals of a nondescript character
also played an important part in the life of the people as well as in
the service of the gods. Birds too formed part of the offerings due to
the powers above, the principal of which were apparently the goose, the
duck, the chicken and the turtle dove.

The fertility of the soil naturally encouraged its cultivation even in
the earliest times. Part of the land in the time of Urukagina belonged
to the royal domains, the remainder being occupied by private
individuals. Cereals, such as corn and barley, were cultivated with
success, as in the days of Herodotus,[175] while some of the land was
reserved for fruit trees and vegetable products.

But the land was not entirely divided up into crown-lands and landed
estates, “small ownership” accounted for a certain amount of the
available ground, and it would appear that even poor women sometimes had
their little plots; the small owners were often however the victims of
the extortionate capitalist, and their wrongs from time to time called
for redress. On such occasions the official entrusted with the task of
readjusting matters took great care to distinguish between arable-land
and land which did not admit of being cultivated. The supervision of the
royal estates involved, as might be expected, the employment of a whole
army of agricultural officials with different degrees of responsibility
and varying duties to perform. Agriculture in the time of Urukagina even
as to-day entailed a regular series of operations: the land had to be
ploughed, the seed sown, and the harvest reaped, and last, but perhaps
the most important and the most laborious of all, there was the work of
irrigation, which in a land subject to floods in winter and a rainless
semi-tropical heat in summer required constant attention and an infinite
amount of hard work. The cutting of canals, even in our own day, with
all the appliances at the disposal of modern hydraulic science, is by no
means an easy or quickly accomplished task, and we can readily
understand that the labour was no less, and the process no simpler some
four or five thousand years ago. The work of irrigation, so essential
and so arduous, was not left to individual enterprise, but was
undertaken by the state and formed one of the principal departments of
public works, and the early rulers of Lagash seem to have been as proud
of their irrigation-engineering performances as they were of their
triumphs on the battle-field. The persons employed were either regular
engineers, or else navvies turned on to the work for the time being. But
the work of irrigation was not finished with the cutting of the canals;
some means had to be devised for conveying the water from the canals to
the soil. No doubt in earlier times this was done by means of a hand
machine, perhaps consisting in a bucket attached to a pole, to the other
end of which a counterpoising weight was suspended. In Assyrian
times,[176] these machines were set by the side of a “pit” or cistern,
which was often a depression in the bed of the stream, into which the
buckets were lowered and from which they were raised when full, or else
a pit dug actually on the field into which the water of the canal flowed
by means of a runnel. The machine itself in its simplest form resembles
the modern “shadûf,” such as was used in ancient Egypt[177] and is in
common use among the fellahin of Upper Egypt to-day. But on big estates
some more efficient apparatus would be obviously required, and was
undoubtedly used, at all events by the Assyrians. What the larger
machines were, we do not know, but as Johns suggests, they may have very
possibly consisted in a set of buckets fastened to a wheel, which was
revolved by oxen, the buckets taking up the water as the wheel brought
them to the bottom, and emptying their contents on their way round: but
whatever the machine was it must have been fairly elaborate, for it
sometimes required as many as eight oxen to work it.

The important part which agriculture played in the life of the community
is shown by the name of one of the months which was called “the month
during which the oxen labour.” The rainy season of November and December
over, the labourers proceeded to sow the seed, the harvest of which was
to be reaped in the summer during the “month of harvesting.” The corn
was cut with a kind of sickle, after which the grain was beaten or else
trodden by oxen on the field itself. Next it was passed through a sieve,
and was then ready to be distributed or stored in the granaries.

As we have already seen, much the same animals were reared for the
maintenance and comfort of man some five thousand years ago as to-day.
Human nature and human requirements vary but little compared with the
marked differences which separate one civilization from another, and one
stage of culture from one more primitive or more advanced, though these
differences are indeed superficial rather than fundamental, but the
elementary laws upon which human life depends essentially belong to
those things which are fundamental, and in that sense they are eternal.
Thus it was that the members of Urukagina’s community partook of beef,
mutton or lamb according to the season, as we do to-day; his bill of
fare however not only comprised joints but also poultry and
birds—chicken, duck, goose, or turtle as the case might be. Fish of all
kinds, including both fresh-water and salt-water fish, were prepared in
various ways for food, while milk, butter and cheese all appear to have
been in regular use. Wheat and barley, as we have several times had
occasion to note, were grown on a large scale, and without doubt formed
the staple food of the people, providing them with an ample supply of
material for cakes and different kinds of bread, including milk loaves
and black bread. The principal fruits which were cultivated at this
period, were dates, figs, pomegranates and grapes: they were eaten
cooked and uncooked, sometimes forming part of a fruit salad, at other
times being made into fruit cakes.

The date-palm flourished everywhere and was a principal means of support
to the poor, while the dates themselves seem to have been used as a
medium of exchange. The apple appears to have been cultivated and to
have furnished certain drink,[178] while the tamarisk provided a kind of
sweet gum. As regards vegetables, onions, radishes, cucumbers and beans
appear to have been the most favoured, though various other vegetable
products, which have not as yet been identified, are mentioned in the
texts. At this early period the art of fermenting cereals was already
known, and beer, date-wine, and other alcoholic drinks were to be found
in the Sumerian cellars.

With their arts and crafts we have dealt elsewhere, as also with their
architectural remains, which however afford us little or no information
regarding the structure of private dwelling-places, but from the
literature we learn that wood as well as brick was used more extensively
in their building operations than we should suppose. Wool formed the
principal material for making clothes, though linen was also possibly
manufactured,[179] while fur was sometimes worn, presumably in the cold

Business transactions were made by contracts, the transactions in
question usually having reference to the sale of slaves, animals or
other property. The validity of the contracts apparently depended upon
their being duly attested, as in later times, the witnesses receiving
gifts for their services. In regard to the purchase of slaves, and the
price which they fetched in the market, it is a significant fact that
according to the stele of Manishtusu, an ass and a slave were worth
exactly the same, which betrays a lack of appreciation of the
superiority of the working capacity of a human being over that of a
brute beast.

But the crown and the church took good care not to allow the laity the
full possession of their own property, and managed to make a very
comfortable livelihood for themselves by means of various impositions
and taxes. Farm produce, garden fruits, fish, cattle, wool and perfumes
were all levied as royal or ecclesiastical dues, while the temple
sacrifices were of course for the most part mere perquisites of the
priests, though the latter had to hand a goodly proportion over to their
royal patron.

A civilization such as this, with its commercial enterprises and its
legal transactions, of course presupposes the invention of systems for
ascertaining the weights and measures of the various objects and
different forms of property with which those transactions were
immediately concerned. There was a square or area measure, a sine quâ
non in property-conveyancing; there was a long measure, equally
necessary for the sale and purchase of wood or stuffen goods, the
smallest unit of which appears to have been the thumb. Then again the
daily requirements of man made the invention of a measure of capacity an
absolute necessity. Other modes of reckoning besides the regular
metrical systems were however sometimes adopted, thus fishermen appear
to have sold their fish either by number or by the basket, while liquids
were measured by means of different sized vessels. Lastly there was a
weight measure, which was the same in Urukagina’s time as in that of the
later dynasty of Ur.


The religion of the Babylonians and Assyrians was polytheistic
throughout the whole course of their history. It is true that in later
times a certain tendency towards monotheism was exhibited, but it never
became forcible enough to create such a revolution in the religious
ideas of the people as the change from polytheism to monotheism
necessarily implies. The gods worshipped in the later period of Gudea
were, with the exception of Nin-gish-zi-da the personal god of Gudea,
known and venerated in the time of Urukagina.[180] It is further an
interesting and noteworthy fact that the name Gishgibilgemesh
(Gilgamesh) is sometimes accompanied by the determinative for “god” in
the literature of the time, a clear indication that even at this date
the hero of Babylonian folk-lore was accredited with divine or
quasi-divine attributes. The local god of Lagash was Nin-girsu; to him
the land belonged, and it was he who entrusted the government of it to
the king; the people of Lagash are indeed identified with their divine
lord, their triumphs are his, and their wrongs are crimes against his
godhead. The priest of Nin-girsu ranked immediately after the patesi
himself, and his temples are entirely national in character. The very
palace of the patesi was in reality the house of Nin-girsu, while that
of his queen was the dwelling-place of Nin-girsu’s divine spouse, the
goddess Bau. Another goddess who was deeply revered and worshipped even
as early as Ur-Ninâ’s day was the Lady Ninâ, from whom the founder of
the dynasty derived his royal name, while the goddess Gatumdug, in whose
honour Ur-Ninâ built a temple, was regarded as the “Mother of Lagash.”
En-lil, the ever famous lord of Nippur, also occupied a prominent place
in the assemblage of gods at this time; he is mentioned first in the
royal protocols of Eannatum and Entemena, and is also first in the
divine invocations on the Vulture Stele of the former ruler.

But the influence of the powers unseen upon the minds and lives of the
people is reflected in the authority of the priests. The priest,
minister or servant is not in truth “greater than his lord,” but his
authority and his power are entirely proportional to those enjoyed by
his heaven-born master. The temptation on the part of earthly emissaries
to abuse the power which their position gives them is generally found to
be irresistible, and the priests of Lagash were, as we have seen, no
exceptions to the all but universal rule. The power enjoyed by the high
priest of Nin-girsu may be judged from the fact that both Enlitarzi and
Enetarzi occupied this position before they ascended the throne.

Sacrifice formed the principal part of early Sumerian worship; animals,
birds, fruit, vegetables, bread and cakes all contributing to the
heavily-laden altars of the gods, and incidentally to the rapacious
appetites and pockets of the priests; offerings were also made to the
statues of the living and the dead, the offerings being placed on an
altar close to the statue; thus a certain Shagshag seems to have derived
satisfaction by placing offerings before her own effigy, while the
statue of the deceased Ur-Ninâ was similarly honoured. Another
interesting practice in vogue at this period was that of burning
oil-lamps before the statues. The latter were apparently votive in
character, and they seem to have performed the religious obligations
required of the people whom they represented, to have actually offered
the prayers inscribed on their lifeless bodies, and, in short, to have
played the noble part of a vicarious worshipper. Without doubt this is
the real explanation of the devotional attitude displayed by Gudea in
his statues. Magic and divination, the ever-ready handmaids of all
primitive religions, were cultivated and fervently believed in at this
period as in later times, prophets, seers, and dream-interpreters being
almost as much in demand as they are to-day.

A special order of priests was appointed to take funerals and perform
the necessary rites and ceremonies, and they received fees or honoraria
for their services. The dead required sustenance in the grave, and it
was customary to place seven jars of liquor and four hundred and twenty
loaves of bread beside the corpse; this custom had become virtually
binding and obligatory upon the unfortunate relations of the deceased,
and one of Urukagina’s reforms was the reduction of these dues.

The temples themselves, which sometimes stood in their own grounds and
were surrounded by a sacred wood, were enriched with statues, vases,
inscribed slabs, treasures of silver and precious stones, and luxuries
of all kinds.

The actual and inward piety of the people of Lagash, as of the
Babylonians and Assyrians of a later period is evinced in the
divinely-compounded names which they bore, names which were clearly
intended to secure the assistance and favour of the god whose earthly
namesakes they were, and in whose honour these names were compounded.
Thus the designation of one individual is “En-lil is my defence,” of
another, “Bau is my mother,” and of a third “Enki is my companion,”
names which vividly recall some of the proper names in the Old
Testament. Another striking testimony to the reality of what may be
termed the individual religion of those days, is the prevailing belief
in the beneficence of one particular god towards oneself; it is clear
that the personal element in the religious feelings and aspirations of
the times was not satisfied by the oblations and ceremonies of the
official cults, but sought and presumably found satisfaction in the
comforting belief that some one god really understood the peculiar
circumstances, difficulties and perplexities of the aspirant, and,
understanding, might be counted upon to render help in time of need.



The reign of Khammurabi is in some respects the half-way house in the
history of Mesopotamian civilization. The king was of course the supreme
head of the state, and indeed he was not only “the first gentleman” in
Babylonia, but also enjoyed the unique privilege and blessing of being a
demigod. The deification of kings was a practice in vogue centuries
before the time of Khammurabi, and it was doubtless a practice
assiduously cultivated by the kings themselves. Some of the early Semite
kings of Kish were deified after death, while the name of
Shar-Gâni-sharri of Agade is often written with the divine
determinative, and the name of his son Narâm-Sin is hardly ever written
without it. But during the later dynasty of Ur the practice grew up of
deifying the king while still alive, instead of waiting for him to take
his seat on the bench of gods after death. Of Khammurabi’s divine nature
we have evidence in the use of such names as “Khammurabi-ilu”
(==Khammurabi is god), as well as in the frequent coupling of his name
with those of the gods in oaths.

After the king, but a long way after, come the nobility and gentry, a
class which not only comprehended the men of high birth but also those
who, though artisans, had the distinction of belonging to old trade
guilds, among which may be mentioned carpenters, tailors, builders, or
potters. Next came what may be termed the lower middle classes, while at
the bottom rung of the ladder—if indeed he can correctly be said to have
been on the ladder at all—was the slave, who was nothing more than a
piece of goods or a chattel.

The full extent of Khammurabi’s empire is not known, but his claim to
immortality rests not on the ever-shifting sands of territorial
aggrandizement, but on the solid rock of moral progress. To form an
accurate estimate of the influence which Khammurabi’s code of laws has
had on the Mosaic code and indirectly on the European codes of to-day is
beyond our power, but one fact is indisputable, and that is that the
legal code of Khammurabi some four thousand years ago enshrines many of
those principles of justice and mercy which we are apt to regard as the
peculiar offspring of our own enlightened age.

Many however of the laws embraced in this world-famed code show little
or no variation from those in force if not actually systematized in the
time of Urukagina. The laws relating to marriage are almost a replica of
those which obtained among the early Sumerians, the contract being still
made between the suitor and the father of the prospective bride, to whom
he normally paid a price for his daughter’s hand, the price of course
varying according to the station in life of the parties concerned. The
sum given to the father was often handed over by him to his daughter,
but if no children were born of the marriage the man was entitled to
receive back the price he had paid for his wife on her death, if it had
not been returned to him previously. The father in his turn usually gave
his daughter a dowry or marriage-portion, which on her death reverted to
the family in the event of her having no children. The dowries often
comprised various kinds of property including gold and silver, slaves,
furniture and apparel, and generally appear to have exceeded in value
the marriage-price paid by the husband. If children born of the marriage
survived the wife, her dowry was divided amongst them. Even if the woman
was divorced she retained her marriage-portion, though it was forfeited
in the event of gross moral misconduct on her part. In the eyes of the
law a married man and woman were one, each being held accountable for
the other’s debts, not excepting even prenuptial liabilities. But though
the Babylonian of Khammurabi’s day, as in the time of Urukagina, was
apparently a monogamist, he was permitted to have a concubine in the
event of his wife not providing him with an heir, the children of the
concubine being regarded as legitimate, and the concubine being entitled
to all the respect and consideration due to a wife. There are various
clauses in the code dealing with special cases, such as the marriage of
a free woman with a slave, or the marriage of votaries, but for a
detailed account of these, reference must be made to the standard works
on the Khammurabi Code, among which may be specially mentioned Harper’s
_Code of Hammurabi_[181] and John’s translation of the code in his
_Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters_.

As in the earlier period, the Babylonians of Khammurabi’s day were
essentially an agricultural people, but since the time of Urukagina,
agriculture had developed enormously, and the relationship of landlord
to tenant, and of employer to labourer, was regulated and fixed by a
number of legal enactments embodied in the code.

Ordinary arable land was let at a fixed rental, the rent being paid in
corn, but the owner was entitled to a deposit, and non-payment of the
rent was a legal debt. The code contains two special provisions, the
effect of which must have been to make the tenant postpone the payment
of his rent as long as possible. The one enacted that if the rent had
not been paid, or if the land had been lent on the share-profit
principle and the crops were destroyed by a storm, the damage done was
shared either equally or proportionally by landlord and tenant. If on
the other hand the rent had been already paid, the tenant could claim no
compensation. The share-profit system was very common, and in such cases
the landlord generally received a half or two-thirds of the crop. But
the inequalities calculated to arise from such a system were obvious,
for though it safeguarded the tenant to some extent, it left the
landlord without remedy in the event of his tenant being an idler, and
to provide for such a case a clause was inserted to the effect that the
negligent small owner should pay an average rent “like his neighbours.”
Often the landlord further secured himself by stipulating in the
contract for the erection of a cottage on the land, or insisted on the
tenant renting a cottage already built there, the cottage to be vacated
on the termination of the lease.

The tenant was empowered to sub-let his ground, the principal landlord’s
consent apparently not being necessary. The landlord was of course
legally entitled to the rent agreed upon in the contract with his
immediate tenant, but provided that was forthcoming, and the ground
properly cultivated, he could raise no objection. Sometimes the landlord
found the seed, the necessary tools, and also the oxen, and in addition
paid a wage to the farmer; in this case the status of the tenant
somewhat resembled that of a gardener in his cottage on an estate
to-day. The seed, the oxen, and everything belonged to his master, and
the penalty for any embezzlement of the same on the part of the tenant
was the amputation of the latter’s hands. Again, if a tenant of this
kind were a rogue, he might hire out the oxen, purloin the provender he
had received from his master for the said oxen, and at the same time
produce no crop: in this case he was liable to a heavy fine, and if he
were insolvent, he was torn to pieces by the oxen on the field which he
had neglected to cultivate.

The laws and regulations which applied to agricultural land-tenure,
applied for the most part to the leasing of plantations and gardens as
well. Thanks to the extraordinary fertility of Babylonian soil the
owners of land became very wealthy; this notwithstanding, the
money-lender was not without clients. Unforeseen disasters occurred,
which crippled the landowner, and but for the money-lender he would not
be able to tide over the trouble. As security for the loan he frequently
mortgaged his land, but the code enacted that he should at all times
reap the crop himself, and pay off the debt and the money-lender’s
expenses from the produce. Moreover the money-lender was legally bound
to accept such produce or corn in settlement of the debt, and could not
insist on being paid in money, unless, as was frequently the case, he
had stipulated in the contract that the loan was to be repaid in the
same form as that in which it had been received. As a further safeguard
for the unfortunate money-borrower it was made illegal to exercise
distraint for rent or anything else upon a working ox. This was a humane
law, for the watering of the ground, as well as the ploughing of the
soil and the threshing of the wheat, was largely done by oxen.

The laws regulating the irrigation of the land were stringent owing to
the disastrous consequences resulting from negligence on the part of any
concerned. Once the canals had been made, it was the bounden duty of
each landowner, whether small or great, to keep that part of the canal
which passed by or through his land in good repair. If that part of the
bank of the canal for which he was responsible gave way, and the water
thereby flooded his neighbour’s land, he had to pay damages in full, and
if he were insolvent he could be sold up. He was entitled to open a
runnel to water his field, but if the water swamped the adjoining fields
through some inadvertence or negligence on his part, he had to give full

The wages, presumably the minimum wage of the labourer, was fixed by
law, as also was the hire-price of oxen and wagons. The hirer of animals
was under a legal obligation to take proper care of them, and omission
to do so involved a penalty. But if an accident occurred which the hirer
could not be expected to foresee or prevent—such as an attack by a
lion—the owner had to bear the loss. This was also the case if the
person in charge of the animal was a shepherd or herdsman in the owner’s
employ, the principle being the same in both cases. Wilful negligence
was not to be condoned, but on the other hand, the consequence of
unforeseen and unavoidable accidents was not to be visited upon either
hirer or employee.

The larger half of the working population in Khammurabi’s time were
probably engaged in agricultural pursuits while the remainder were
occupied in trade or commerce. Now the expansion of trade depends upon
the existence of an adequate means of transport, whereby exports can go
out and imports come in. Before the invention and introduction of
locomotives, water was the unrivalled medium for conveying large
quantities of goods from one place to another, and even to-day with our
interlacing networks of railways we still find use for the canals of
primitive days. It was undoubtedly the two rivers, the Tigris and the
Euphrates, that were accountable for the development of the trading
faculty of the Babylonians, a faculty which ultimately made them the
great commercial people of the Oriental world. We are accordingly not
surprised to find that already, even in the time of Khammurabi, shipping
was an important trade. A sure and certain indication of this fact is to
be found in the number of laws directly concerning ship-builders and
boatmen in the Code. The ship-builder, or rather the boat-builder,—for
ships properly so-called were a very much later invention,—was
absolutely responsible for his workmanship, and was required to give a
year’s guarantee to the purchaser; if it proved faulty during that time
he had to provide another. As in the case of the agricultural
labourer,the hired boatman was responsible for the boat and cargo in his
charge, and any negligence on his part was penal. If a ship collided
with another ship riding at anchor, the colliding ship was liable for
all damages.

Business was carried on largely by means of agents as it is with us
to-day. The agent gave a receipt for the goods or money he received from
his chief, and then went off to trade with them. The agent generally
appears to have received an ordinary commission, which on his return he
was expected to repay with a reasonable profit, the profit sometimes
being a definitely fixed sum, at others, a prearranged share of the
actual proceeds. As in our own day, some merchants were speculators, and
all the uncertainty incidental to any kind of speculation seems to have
surrounded the prospects of the agent, who doubtless at times scored
well, while on other occasions he lost heavily. But any loss resulting
from an untoward event which the agent could neither foresee nor
prevent, had to be borne by the merchant. Thus if an agent were robbed
in the course of his travels, he could clear himself from all liability
in the matter by taking an oath to that effect. But this law might
clearly lead to sharp practice on the part of a dishonest agent; and
accordingly any false claims on his part had to be repaid threefold, but
a false claim by a chief in regard to the goods entrusted to his agent
had to be repaid sixfold. All business transactions had to be drawn up
in writing to make them legal.

The obvious advantages of partnership were soon recognized by the
commercially sagacious Babylonians, and business-partnerships were well
known in the time of Khammurabi. In arriving at the dividends, the usual
arrangement was for the partners to withdraw their capital and interest,
and then receive equal shares of the superfluous profits. The dividends
were made yearly and the withdrawal by each partner of his capital
virtually dissolved the partnership, which could of course be renewed
from time to time if desired.

As in all commercial enterprises, capital was the one essential, and the
need of immediate cash was supplied by the money-lender. The rate of
interest charged in Khammurabi’s time is not known, but the rate charged
on loans of corn was often as much as forty per cent. Such loans were
however generally in demand at seed-time, and if repaid at harvest, no
interest seems to have been charged. A debtor could repay his loan
either in the form of corn or sesame, and the value of each was fixed by
law. If a debtor was insolvent, he could hand over a servant to his
creditor to work off the debt which was due. The ownership of such a
servant was, however, still vested in the debtor, and the servant was
protected by law against maltreatment at the hand of the creditor. If he
were a free man, the creditor had to restore him to his original master
at the termination of three years, and the same rule applied if a wife
or child of the debtor were the pledge or surety.

Distraint was not unknown, but it was the last expedient which the
creditor was entitled to adopt after all other means had failed.
Distraint on corn without the previous consent of the debtor was
illegal, and illegal distraint _ipso facto_ forfeited the right of any
further claim on the part of the creditor, while the execution of a
distraint where no claim had been substantiated was penal, and the
theoretical creditor had to pay a fine. As before-mentioned no distraint
could be levied on a working-ox, and indeed distraint of any kind could
apparently only be issued subsequently to the consent of the debtor. In
short, the interests of the humbler and poorer members of the community
were safeguarded in every way possible. Not only were the small farmers
protected, but even the working-classes received the attention of the
legislators of Khammurabi’s time. Thus at harvest-time there was
evidently a tendency to put up the price of beer, and accordingly a
clause in the code enacts that drink was to be sold at a cheap rate in
spite of the increased demand.

Again, everyone in the community is practically at the mercy of the
housebuilder, and accordingly any damage caused by the use of faulty
materials or bad workmanship, had to be made good by the builder. If the
house collapsed and the owner was killed, the builder was put to death,
while if the owner’s son or servant was killed, the son or servant of
the builder was similarly put to death, in accordance with the primitive
law of retaliation. House-tenure in the time of Khammurabi was generally
on the repairing-lease system, the tenant being required to leave the
house in the same condition in which he found it, while it was customary
to pay rent half-yearly instead of quarterly, the rent being paid in

The ultimate sanction and enforcement of these various laws concerning
the relationship subsisting between capitalist and workman, owner and
hirer, and landlord and tenant, was to be found in the courts. Strange
to say, the chief scene of jurisdiction was the temple, the god himself
adjudicating through the mediumship of his earthly plenipotentiaries.
The precise form of legal procedure in the time of Khammurabi is not
known, but certain facts in regard to the institution and conduct of
suits have been elucidated.

One great difference between law-suits in the time of Khammurabi and
those of our own day was that the cases were not apparently conducted by
counsel, but by the parties themselves, an arrangement which must have
considerably accrued to the advantage of the abler of the two suitors.
The more important cases were heard by a bench of judges somewhat
resembling our Court of Appeal, while the minor suits were heard by a
single judge, as in our High Courts and County Courts. The plea had to
be set down in writing in the form of an “affidavit”; whether the
defendant was able to file a counter-affidavit does not seem quite
clear. At the trial itself the plaintiff and defendant both summoned
their witnesses, and the judgment was signed by both parties. Appeal to
a higher court was the only remedy for the loser of the suit, the judge
in the lower court not being allowed to hear the same case a second time
under pain of being struck off the list, and at the same time mulcted
for twelve times the amount of the fine he had previously ordered, or
the damages he had assessed.

The date of the trial was fixed by the judge, but it had to be within
six months of the filing of the affidavit. This time was allowed in
order to enable the plaintiff to procure his witnesses in the event of
their being absent from home. The appointment of the judges, or at least
of some of them, was vested in the crown; whether they were paid or not
is a matter of doubt. Sometimes judgeships were hereditary. But whether
judges received fees or not they appear to have been regarded as
professional men and retained their title even after they had ceased to
exercise their judicial functions. The supreme judge was the king
himself, to whom cases of primary importance were occasionally referred,
while the principal officers of state often acted as judges.

The following crimes were capital offences, though the precise form in
which the death sentence was to be carried out is not always quite
clear:—a false accusation of witchcraft; perjury on the part of a
witness in a capital case; burglary of a temple, palace, or private
house; kidnapping a free-born child; highway robbery; theft of the goods
of a man whose house is on fire; adultery; various forms of incest; rape
of a betrothed maiden; persuading a slave to flee from his master, or
being an accessory after the fact by harbouring him; various forms of
theft and fraud; and building a house so badly that it collapsed and
thereby killed the owner. The penalty of death appears to have been
inflicted either by burning, impalement, dismemberment, or drowning.

Criminal offences of a less serious character were treated differently.
Among the penalties enumerated in the code, mutilation, branding and
scourging are the most barbarous. Mutilation was a punishment based
logically on the “eye for an eye,” and “tooth for a tooth” principle,
its application being primarily to those who had mutilated their
neighbour. But its application was extended to cover other forms of
crime or offences adjudged in those days as crimes, thus insolence on
the part of an adopted child to his foster-parents was effectually
stopped by the removal of the child’s tongue; while an adopted son who
is unduly inquisitive into the origin of his birth has his eye plucked
out; lastly—and what perhaps to us seems the most amazing of all—if a
surgeon performed an operation and the patient died through any
carelessness or lack of skill on his part, the surgeon’s hands were
amputated—a law which must have considerably cooled the ardour of any of
the surgeons of those days particularly addicted to the use of the
knife. Branding was the outward and visible sign (usually imprinted on
the arm) of degradation to slavery,—the punishment for slandering a
votary or a married woman. Scourging was the penalty for striking a
superior; the scourging was to be performed in public, the strokes
numbering sixty, and the implement used a cow-hide whip; while
banishment from the city was the very fitting and meet punishment for


The one outstanding feature of the Babylonian religion of Khammurabi’s
time was the unique position assigned to Marduk in the Babylonian
pantheon. Marduk owed his exaltation to what we may without undue levity
call local interest. The dynasty of which Khammurabi was so illustrious
a monarch was the first dynasty of the city of Babylon itself; and
Marduk the local god of Babylon naturally shared in the good fortune and
prosperity of the people over whose welfare he presided. To Marduk
belonged the real credit, honour and glory of his people’s success, what
wonder then that he should be accorded the post of honour in the
hierarchy of heaven! Other gods indeed existed, and received such
attention as befitted their inferior position, but their light was as
that of a planet compared with the dazzling radiance of the midday sun,
while a monotheistic tendency sprang up, fostered by a desire to
attribute to Marduk such marvellous performances as the creation of the
world, performances which had hitherto been ascribed to the older gods
of Southern Mesopotamia.

But reverence and respect for the traditions of a heroic past precluded
the possibility of dishonouring the gods who had made that past so
glorious, and the only way to satisfy the religious aspirations of
Marduk’s devotees on the one hand, and maintain the loyalty due to the
time-honoured gods of Babylonian infancy on the other, was to identify
the latter with Marduk; had this process of identification been carried
to its logical conclusion it would have resulted in the evolution of a
monotheism as exclusive and as simple as the most dogmatic Unitarianism
of to-day.

Fortunately or unfortunately such was not the case; the practical
sequence of the tendency was realized in the identification of Marduk
with the ancient god of Nippur, but apart from that, the tendency
remained a tendency and nothing more. Notwithstanding this fact however,
Marduk’s supremacy was so firmly established, and his position so
impregnably secured, that the passing changes and chances of some two
thousand years were unable to oust him from his high estate, and it is
to Marduk that Cyrus, the vanquisher of Babylon’s last native king, and
the fated heir to her evanescent empire, ascribes the triumphant victory
which attended his arms. He recorded the acknowledgment of his
obligations to the lord of E-sagil on a clay cylinder now preserved in
the British Museum.

The inscription is written in cuneiform characters, and states that
Marduk “sought out a righteous prince, a man after his own heart whom he
might take by the hand, and he called his name Cyrus. And Marduk the
great lord, the protector of his people, beheld his good deeds and his
righteous heart with joy.” Thus 1500 years after the time of Khammurabi,
the cult of Marduk was still intimately bound up with the prosperity of
his people, and it was owing to the neglect of his worship and to the
mal-preservation of his fanes that Nabonidus the last king of the
Neo-Babylonian dynasty was unable to withstand the onslaughts of a
foreign conqueror.

Although Marduk was thus the supreme god of Babylon, to whose shrine all
true patriots were wont to resort, other gods were still the subjects of
veneration, and it was still thought prudent to seek their favour and
assistance. The sun continued to pursue the even tenor of his way, and
after all, the sun is an important factor in the manifold operations of
agriculture, it therefore behoves man to pay his respects to a god whose
mere momentary absence behind a cloud of displeasure may bring about
such momentous consequences. Among other deities worshipped at this
time, mention should be made of Ishtar, the mother of the gods, and the
goddess of love and war, Anu the lord of heaven, and Ea the god of the
deep, of Sin the moon-god and the specific patron of the people of Ur,
of Ninib the god of war, and Adad the weather deity.[182]

The great religious movement which characterized the establishment of
the first dynasty of Babylon, naturally brought in its train all the
paraphernalia required by and incidental to a highly-organized state
religion. The priesthood became a power, and the temples commercial
centres as well as seats of learning. The revenue of the temple was very
large; its principal source seems to have been the endowments and royal
bounties of the kings. As in earlier times, it owned a large number of
cattle and sheep, and the administration of its property seems to have
caused Khammurabi a considerable amount of anxiety. A great many priests
and laymen were attached to the service of the temple, and the spiritual
labourer of those days seems to have deserved an altogether exorbitant
hire. It was clearly a most profitable concern, and the privilege of
serving in the temple was a positive asset which could be bought, sold,
or mortgaged. This valuable privilege which brought such pecuniary
advantages with it, was, needless to say, very jealously guarded by the
elect, who firmly adhered to the hereditary principle—then in full
swing. These privileges were in fact inalienable and were transmitted
from father to son.

The financial prosperity of the temple and its attachés is shown by
their opening their doors for financial business pure and simple,
money-lending in time becoming quite an important branch of the temple
work. The loans however seem to have generally been free loans, no
interest being exacted.

But the temple had its obligations to perform as well as its privileges
to enjoy, one of the duties incumbent upon the temple authorities being
the ransoming of a fellow townsman who had been taken prisoner by the



In Assyrian times the same explicit or implicit regulations in regard to
the family seem to have been in force, or tacitly agreed to, as those
which obtained in the older Babylonian period. Apparently a man was only
expected in the normal way to marry one woman, though it seems probable
that in the event of the first wife proving childless it was regarded as
quite justifiable and legitimate for a man to take to himself another
woman, in view of the desirability of his having an heir.[183]
Accordingly monogamy seems to have been the general rule, though
polygamy was by no means unknown. When a man married, he left his
father and mother and was expected to “cleave” unto his wife, and they
became “one flesh” and inhabited “one house”; in short, the Assyrian
“home” was normally the same as the English “home” of to-day. As in the
time of Khammurabi, women could be legal owners of property, and often
owned farms and occupied vineyards.

The general pursuits of the people were much the same as those followed
by the earlier inhabitants of Mesopotamia. The population was, as then,
largely agricultural; the land required the same careful and elaborate
irrigation while the ground had to be ploughed, the seed sown, and the
harvest reaped as heretofore. A corn-land holding[184] usually had a
house attached to it, and also a court where the corn was stored, which
thus served the purpose, if not resembling the appearance, of a barn. A
large number of people were evidently employed in the vineyards, which
must sometimes have been very extensive, for the number of plants in a
single vineyard in one case was as many as 49,300, and it is a
significant fact that the most celebrated wines in Babylonia came from
the north, while it is also worth noting the frequency with which the
vine occurs on Assyrian bas-reliefs. Orchards and gardens also abounded,
though what grew in them is to some extent a matter of conjecture; if
however we may assume that the list of plants mentioned in the
Babylonian _Garden Tablet_ published by Meissner, holds good also for
the Assyrian garden, leek, onion, garlic, lettuce, coriander, hyssop,
turnip, cabbage, and radish must have been familiar garden products.

Cattle and sheep were reared as in the old days, the latter both for
their wool and also for food, while goats provided milk, as well as meat
and hair, goat’s hair being used even to-day in the East for the
coverings of tents. Oxen were used largely for working the irrigation
machines, while asses also served as beasts of labour. The camel was not
unknown, and is often named in connection with the sales of estates. The
horse at this period was in common use, but was seemingly reserved for
riding and driving.

The legal paraphernalia of Assyrian times was the natural development of
the Babylonian law code of which it was the off-shoot. In the ownership
of land the hereditary principle seems to have been the dominating
factor, and probably farms and vineyards passed automatically from
father to son in the same way as crown lands and larger estates. The
peasant was still a serf, bought or sold with the land to which fate had
attached him; he was not permitted to migrate elsewhere, but on the
other hand he was under the protection of the state; he could not be
ousted by invaders, and his living was a first charge on the estate. It
is certain that estate-slaves were sometimes requisitioned for military
or other state purposes, the owner being of course compelled to meet the
demand, while the produce of his land was also subject to taxation. Some
estates were however exempt from dues of this kind, the exemption
doubtless being granted by the royal favour and confirmed by royal

Among the smaller land-owners we find a number of farmers or vine-owners
who have forsaken business or industrial pursuits, and have left the
bakery and the scribe’s office to return to the soil.

The landlord frequently did not reside on his land, but let it out to
tenants, whom he expected to pay rent in due season. The original
ownership of land was no doubt largely if not entirely the gift of the
king, while conquests would continually place fresh tracts of land in
his hands. Probably some of the newly acquired property went to swell
the extent of the crown lands, while the rest or part of the rest was
distributed among the king’s ministers, generals and other court


The Assyrian religion was Babylonian both in origin and character. Anu,
Bel, and Ea, Marduk, Nergal, Adad, Shamash and Sin, Nanâ and Ishtar were
all held in esteem, and temples were erected in their honour. The
supremacy of Assyria and the corresponding decline in Babylonian power
scarcely affected the authority and influence of the time-honoured gods
of the Babylonian pantheon. But the new political situation required
some recognition in the religious life of the nation, and the exigencies
of the present demanded some consideration, as well as the hallowed
traditions of the past. These two conflicting interests had to be
reconciled, and the reconciliation was effected and a way of escape
devised similar to that adopted by the earlier Babylonians when
confronted with a like dilemma. The local god of Ashur was exalted to
the first place in the pantheon, and became as it were the Marduk of
Assyria, though his position was even more unassailable than was that of
Marduk in Babylon, for the latter[185] was bound to acknowledge Ea as
his father, whereas Ashur is above all ties of this kind; the
Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon is recognized by him, but it in no way
touches his lofty estate.

The cult of the god of Ashur goes back to the earliest known period of
Assyrian civilization, while he gave his name to the first known capital
of the country, and ultimately to the country itself. Ashur is the
divine impersonation of Assyria, as Marduk was of Babylonia, only the
identification was more pronounced, for the decline of Assyrian power
and the death of her empire meant virtually the death of Ashur, whereas
Marduk maintained his influence during the time of Babylon’s adversity
as well as during that of her prosperity; foreign conquerors sought to
do him honour, Cyrus the Persian ascribes his conquest of Babylon to the
lord of E-sagil, and even Antiochus Soter (280-260 B.C.) restores his
renowned temple. But another difference between the Ashur-cult of the
north and the Marduk-cult of the south must also be noted. Ashur was
worshipped in temples erected all over the Assyrian empire, whereas
Babylon was the place “where men ought to worship” Marduk, just as in
later times Jerusalem was the only authorized centre for the worship of
Jehovah. But in spite of the universality of his presence, Ashur had a
principal seat of worship, the locality of which was the same as that of
the then centre and capital of the empire, Ashur, Calah, Nineveh or
Khorsabad as the case might be.

The adaptability displayed by Ashur in regard to his earthly home may,
as Jastrow suggests, be partly due to the fact that a statue was not the
only, or even the principal symbol of his divine presence, as was the
case with Marduk and the other great gods. His usual emblem was a
standard consisting of a pole surrounded by a winged disc to which is
attached an archer with drawn bow. It is impossible to say the exact
time when a military standard came to be regarded as the natural and
fitting symbol of the patron god of the country, but the nature of the
symbol itself makes it quite clear that Ashur was regarded as a god of
war. Indeed the patron deity of a people as warlike as the Assyrians,
could not but reflect the military spirit of his people. The Assyrian
warriors were the “troops of Ashur,” their enemies being his enemies and
their friends his friends. Ashur’s spouse was Bēlit (==“the Lady”),
but the same goddess sometimes appears as the consort of Bel[186] and
sometimes also as the wife of Ea, in the Assyrian inscriptions, while at
other times again Bēlit is merely a designation of Ishtar. The
last-named goddess occupies a very prominent place in the Assyrian
pantheon, only coming second to Ashur himself. There were indeed no less
than three Ishtars in Assyria—Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Arbela, and
Ishtar of Kidmuru, but the Assyrians do not appear to have preserved any
definite distinction between them, so that for all practical purposes we
only have one goddess to consider in this connection.

It is hardly to be wondered at that Ishtar, the goddess of war as well
as of love, should have been held in high reverence by the Assyrians,
who not unnaturally accentuated her warlike attributes. But the
Assyrians were not responsible for the origin of Ishtar’s warlike
character; she had been regarded in this light at least as early as the
time of Khammurabi,[187] while her fighting spirit is strongly painted
in the early Gilgamesh epic, but it remained for the Assyrians to
develop this aspect of her character to the virtual exclusion of all
other aspects. As the Assyrians extended their sway on every side, the
power of Ishtar the _Bēlit_, or “lady” of battles, advanced also; she
is the goddess of kings and people alike; in times of danger she
vouchsafes her counsel and her timely words of encouragement to the
king through the medium of dreams. She is “perfect in courage” and
incomparable in splendour; her appearance is like unto flames of fire,
and she rains streams of fire upon the enemies of Ashur-bani-pal. Unlike
other goddesses she reigns in her own right, and not in virtue of her
position as the spouse, counterpart, or reflection of any of the
important gods. She is their equal in rank, power and dignity, while her
very name becomes almost a synonym for “goddess,” and in later times all
goddesses, whether native or foreign, came to be regarded as so many
forms or manifestations of Ishtar.

But apart from the advancement to honour of the warlike deities of
Babylonia, and the further development of the military character which
they already bore, the Assyrian religion varies but little from that of
the mother-country. The civilization and culture of the Assyrians was
imported _en bloc_ from Babylonia, and this wholesale appropriation of
the manners and customs of the people of the south displays itself in
Assyrian art, religion, law and architecture. Their temples and palaces
were more or less faithful copies of those erected in Babylonia; their
beliefs, rites and ceremonies were derived from the same source, while
their literature shows hardly any originality at all. When
Ashur-bani-pal resolved to collect a library in his royal palace at
Nineveh he was obliged to dispatch his scribes to the south to make
search in the archives of the ancient temples which contained the
prayers and hymns addressed to the gods, the legends and epics of the
remote past, the astronomical reports and medical formulæ of the
immediate present. A large part of Ashur-bani-pal’s library consisted in
practically verbatim copies of these original texts, but the debt which
we owe to Ashur-bani-pal’s bibliographical propensities must not be
measured by the originality of the volumes of his library, but by the
large contribution which they make to the Babylonian and Assyrian
literature now at our disposal. In a great many cases the Babylonian
originals have not been recovered, and we are entirely dependent on the
copies of Ashur-bani-pal’s scribes, and but for this great king’s
assiduity in this direction we should be in entire ignorance regarding
the contents of a large part of the Babylono-Assyrian literature.


In all religions, whether ancient or modern, material representation
forms the connecting link between the natural and the supernatural, the
physical and the spiritual. The medium sometimes assumes the shape of an
image of a naturally or unnaturally conceived deity, at other times it
takes the form of an emblem, astronomical or otherwise, with which the
god is associated. We have had abundant evidence of the prominent part
played by images in the worship of the Babylonians and Assyrians, and it
will perhaps not be unfitting to devote two or three pages to a brief
consideration of some of the emblems of the deities to whom reference
has been made.

The chief sources for the study of Assyrian and Babylonian symbolism are
the cylinder-seals, the Babylonian Boundary-Stones, and the monoliths of
Assyrian kings. In a brief review of Mesopotamian cylinder-seals we have
had occasion to observe the frequent occurrence of emblems, many of
which are also found on the monoliths of Assyrian kings, e.g. Sargon,
Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. Among those of which the signification is
certain we may mention the crescent, obviously emblematic of the
Moon-god Sin, and the star of Ishtar, while the deity armed with
thunderbolts is certainly Adad. The winged disc which occurs on a stele
of Esarhaddon, as well as on other Assyrian monuments, is clearly
symbolic of Ashur, though in earlier times it apparently emblematized
Shamash, the Sun-god,[188] and if this be the case we have a useful
piece of evidence in support of the theory of a solar origin for Ashur.

[Illustration: FIG. 113.]

[Illustration: FIG. 114.]

But the Babylonian _kudurrus_ or boundary-stones provide far more
material for the study of Babylonian symbolism than do the Assyrian
royal sculptures, for the emblems of the gods, as well as the gods
themselves, were for the most part borrowed from Babylonia and adopted
with variations by the people of the north. We have the emblems which
are scattered about sporadically on the Babylonian cylinder-seals
collected together in more or less large groups on the boundary stones.
On one of these boundary stones (cf. Fig. 113) the name of the god with
whom the emblem is associated is inscribed by the side, thus giving us
definite data instead of hypothetical conjecture upon which to base our
investigation. Unfortunately all the names inscribed on this kudurru are
not legible, but among those which are certain, the following should be
noted: Shamash the Sun-god who is represented by a circle within which
are four rays of light alternating with four streams of water. Ishtar is
represented by a star, and Sin the Moon-god by a crescent as usual. Ea
is symbolized by a ram’s head on a column, the column being set on a
rectangular throne beneath which lies the fish-tailed capricorn. Marduk
is represented likewise by a column, the top of which however is shaped
like a lance. Nergal, the god of the dead, is symbolized by a
lion-headed column, while the seated goddess is Gula, who has been
identified with Bau.

Another important monument in this connection is the rock-relief of
Sennacherib near Bavian (cf. Fig. 114). The inscription mentions twelve
gods, and the same number of emblems, presumably corresponding to the
twelve gods, are sculptured on the rock. But the important point is that
not only does the number of emblems portrayed tally with the number of
gods mentioned, but there are definite indications that the order of
sequence is the same in both cases.[189] Thus the crescent which
obviously symbolizes the moon-god occurs fifth, the same place occupied
by Sin in the list of names. Again, the star, the undoubted emblem of
Ishtar, similarly comes eleventh, the name of the goddess also being
eleventh in the list. Lastly, the thunderbolt, which is the certain
symbol of Adad, occupies the seventh place and corresponds with that
occupied by the god in the inscription. These three coincidences can
hardly be regarded as accidental, and it is reasonable to assign the
remaining symbols to the corresponding gods in the list. Following out
this method we can provisionally assign the emblems as follows: Ashur,
Anu and Bel are represented by horned hats; Ea by a column with a ram’s
head; Sin by a crescent; Shamash by a winged disc; Adad by a
thunderbolt; Marduk by a column with a pine-apple termination; Nabû by a
simple column; Ninib (?) by a column surmounted by two lions’ (or two
bulls’) heads; Ishtar by a star; and Igigi by seven dots.

[Illustration: FIG. 115.]

Probably the finest specimen of a Babylonian stele of this character is
that of Nebuchadnezzar I (_circ._ 1120 B.C.) (cf. Fig. 115). In the
upper register we have the crescent, disc and star of Sin, Shamash and
Ishtar respectively, the second register being occupied with a row of
three emblems each consisting in a divine seat surmounted by a horned
turban. The last-named seemingly represent Anu, Bel and either Ashur or
Ea.[190] Next in succession we appear to have the emblems of Marduk and
Nebo, while in the fourth register we have the double-headed column of
Ninib, a horse’s head resting on a seat and surmounted by a vaulted
arch, (this is of particular interest, as according to Ward, it is
probably the earliest representation of the horse in Babylonian art); an
eagle on the top of a column, and another column surmounted by a hawk’s
head and representing Zamama. In the fifth register is the goddess Gula
seated on a throne and accompanied by a dog; a scorpion-man or
Sagittarius; while last of all we have the thunderbolt of Adad over a
calf, a tortoise which is possibly an alternative emblem for Ea,[191] a
scorpion, and the lamp of Nusku, the god of fire. Finally the whole of
one side of this remarkable stele is traversed by a gigantic serpent.
Other monuments exhibit different varieties of the same emblems, while
among those not included here, are the club, the arrow, the sparrow and
plough, the sheaf, the vase, the bull, the goose, the man-fish, the
dove, the rod and ring (cf. Pl. XIV), and the coiffure and knife of the
goddess Ninkharshag, for a full and exhaustive study of which the reader
should refer to Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, pp. 389 ff. Of the burial
customs of the Babylonians and Assyrians, so far as they are known, we
have treated elsewhere (cf. pp. 62, 69, etc.), but it will perhaps not
be superfluous for us to briefly consider their eschatology.


Man’s ideas and thoughts are very largely determined by his environment,
so too his beliefs regarding the next world have as their material basis
and setting the world in which he now lives; the unknown but vaguely
guessed at, can only be defined, or rather depicted in terms of the
known, the unseen in terms of the seen, heaven in the terms of earth,
God in the terms of Man—in short, the doctrine of the Incarnation
underlies all religion and all religious systems. As we have already
seen, the early Babylonians in all probability came from the mountainous
country of Elam, for they used the same picture-sign or ideogram for
both “mountain” and “country”; the earth was therefore conceived by them
under the form of a mountain, and if this world be shaped like a
mountain, the world beyond must also doubtless bear a similar shape,
hence one of their names for the other world was E-KUR, which signifies
“mountain-house,” the same name being also applied to the present world.
In the early days of Babylonian mythology, the gods themselves were
believed to inhabit E-KUR, the mountain-house of the world, and it is
perhaps not unnatural to find the gods so intimately associated with
mother-earth, when one recalls that the Babylonians believed the gods
themselves to have been evolved from the same watery chaos from which
the earth as it were emerged—the gods and the earth were children of the
same parent, and were brought into being in the same way.

But this mountain-theory with regard to the other world in no way
excluded or apparently even collided with other views of quite a
different character; indeed the most popular conception of the next
world, as the realm of the dead, was that of a hollow, or cave situated
underneath the earth, which was believed to be shaped somewhat after the
fashion of an inverted saucer: this cave was called “Aralu,” and was
poetically described as “irṣitum la tarat”—“the land without return”—a
description which is strangely negative, and which illustrates how
little the Babylonian concerned himself with the life after death
compared with the Egyptian, who may with some truth be said to have
devoted his attention more to the life beyond than to the life which now
is. The locality of Aralu under the earth may also be inferred from the
story of Ishtar’s descent into Hades; this practically universal
conception is so natural a one that it hardly calls for an explanation.
The association of the realm of the dead with the grave beneath the
earth where the remains of the dead were deposited—is almost inevitable,
and the corresponding association of the abode of the gods, or heaven
with the regions of light and brightness above this earth—the
ever-visible sun and moon being gods themselves—is equally natural, but
in passing, it must be remarked that in the system—for lack of a better
word—which set the abode of the gods in the regions of the sky, the
heaven which they inhabited was not accessible to mortal man, be he ever
so good or virtuous; it was apparently only in earlier times when the
home of the gods was located in or on the earth that the souls of the
departed are regarded as dwelling with or near them.

This is further corroborated by the application of the term
E-KUR—“mountain-house”—to the earth itself as well as to the abode of
the gods and the realm of the dead, while at the same time it was used
to designate the earthly abodes or temples of the gods; the theory which
located the home of the gods upon the E-KUR is probably the earlier, and
it was only in later times, when Babylon had made herself more or less
supreme in the Euphrates valley, and had thereby gained for her god
Marduk a similar supremacy, that the circumstances seemed to demand, as
it were, a more universal and less local home for the god whose sway
thus extended all over the country; if Marduk confines himself to his
temple-home in Babylon, how can he watch over the fortunes and receive
the homage of his devotees all over the empire?

Moreover, as has been already stated, on grounds independent of this the
temptation to assign a heavenly or sky-home to the gods has been yielded
to almost universally; this view of course did not exclude the
possibility of the god’s presence in the temples erected to his honour,
it only excluded the idea of his exclusive presence in the temple.

But there were yet other names besides Aralu and E-KUR, used to
designate the abode of the dead, one of which was “Shualu”; this term
signifies “enquiry” and comes from the same root as that from which the
proper name “Saul” (“asked for”) is derived, itself being the equivalent
of the Hebrew “Sheol” which the Greeks rendered “Hades,” and English
translators unfortunately rendered “hell”; the world of the dead is
accordingly regarded as a place of enquiry, the enquiry being presumably
of the nature of an oracle. The dead are thus supposed to be endowed
with the power of answering questions addressed to them by people on
earth; and in this capacity they resemble the gods, the only difference
being that the gods grant oracles through the hands of their priests,
while the dead use necromancers as their mediums, as was the case when
Samuel manifested himself to Saul through the agency of the necromancing
witch of Endor. Thus in connection with the E-KUR home of the gods and
of the dead, it will be observed that the dead are not only regarded as
with, or near the gods, but, like the gods they are also empowered to
assist earthly mortals with their oracular utterances; this presupposes
that the dead are endowed with a greater knowledge than the living, and
accordingly however gloomy Aralu, Shualu or E-KUR (as the home of the
dead) may be, the dead are at all events drawn nearer to the gods in
this respect, and partake more freely of the Tree of Knowledge than the

Having arrived thus far, the deification of the dead is but a short
step, which the Babylonian found no great difficulty in taking; as
however the deification of the departed was the exception rather than
the rule, the exceptional cases of such deification must have had a
special raison d’être of their own, and that raison d’être was probably
the power of granting oracles which the Babylonian attributed to those
highly-favoured individuals, whose heroic achievements on earth had won
for them the greatest honour accorded to mankind in antiquity. The kings
indeed were often deified after death and even during their lifetime,
but that was the natural corollary of the belief that the next world is
similar in order and in its mode of government to this world, albeit it
was much more gloomy and also of a comparatively negative character.

But though the dead are thus regarded as more akin to the gods than the
living, and more the objects of their special care, yet their very
affinity to the gods seems to place them more beyond the power and
control of the latter, and the priests whose delegated divine authority
is paramount over the living, have no right of influence whatever over
the dead.

Another name for the under-world was “Ki-gallu” which signifies “great
land,” “Ki” being the regular ideogram for “earth” generally, or “land”
specifically, the two being to the early oriental mind practically
synonymous; this term, like E-KUR, thus associates the abode of the dead
with the abode of the living, the abode of the living being on the
earth, and the abode of the dead being under or within the earth. Other
epithets applied to the under-world were—“the dark dwelling,” “the house
of death,” “the grave,” “the great city,” “the deep land,” and the
above-mentioned “irṣitum la tarat,” “the land whence there is no
return,” the latter occurring in the well-known story of Ishtar’s
descent into Hades, where the nether-world is further described as a
house of darkness in which the dead, clothed in feathers like birds,
depend upon dust and clay for their nourishment. This account of the
world beyond the grave tallies well with the account given by Ea-bani,
when called up from the realms of the dead to speak to his friend
Gilgamesh; Ea-bani shrinks from paining his friend by describing the
horrors of the under-world, but is at last prevailed upon to do so, and
his description of Hades is that of “a place where the worm devours and
all is cloaked in dust”—“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou
return.” The idea of the dead being clothed with feathers like birds
recalls the characteristically Mesopotamian monsters of composite form,
half-bird and half-man, themselves apparently connected directly or
indirectly with the nether-world.

It was believed however that the pitiable lot of the dead could be to
some extent mitigated by acts of devotion and charity practised by those
that remain; thus it was of primary importance to the deceased that he
should receive a respectable and decent burial, and furthermore his
needs did not stop there, for in E-KUR—whether the term be applied to
the earth as the home of mortals, or to the land of the dead, man
requires both food and drink for his sustenance. The condition of the
hapless man who receives no burial and is provided with none of the
necessaries of life in the next world is described at the close of the
Gilgamesh Epic, where we are informed that such an one is consumed by
gnawing hunger and has perforce to satisfy his appetite with the offal
on the streets; but not only was the unburied shade a curse to himself
so to speak, he also became a curse to the living by assuming the form
of an “ekimmu” or demon, possessed with malignant intentions towards
mankind, and furthermore endowed with the regrettable power of carrying
those intentions into good effect; it therefore behoved the living to
attend to the requirements of the dead from the point of view of
self-defence quite apart from any considerations of pious charity.

There was no distinction made between the faithful and unfaithful
departed in the halls of Aralu, the only difference there was, lay
between the lot of those who received the rites of burial and the means
of sustenance at the hands of their surviving friends and relatives, and
the lot of those to whom were denied the last rites and offices; it
should however be observed that the future life of those who perished on
the battle-field was believed to be fraught with greater happiness, or at
least less unhappiness than that of the generality of mankind.

Thus to the Babylonian the sting of death was very far from being
removed, and their funeral dirges consisted chiefly in lamentations on
account of the pitiful plight of the departed one rather than for their
own personal loss; for them there was no swallowing up of Death in
Victory, the only possibility of future bliss lying in immunity from
death, an immunity which had only been offered to one or two mortals,
and of which only one had apparently succeeded in availing himself, that
single exception being Ṣit-napishtim whose exaltation to the godhead
apparently exonerated him from the necessity of dying. The prevailing
note was thus one of pessimism, a pessimism from which “the dwellers in
Mesopotamia” have never succeeded in entirely emancipating themselves, a
pessimism which is moreover discernible in the sacred writings of the
Hebrews long after their emigration from Babylonia to the land of
Canaan. To Job the lot of a tree is preferable to that of humanity, for
“it hath hope, if it be cut down, it will sprout again; but man lieth
down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake
nor be raised out of their sleep”; so too the Psalmist begs that he may
be allowed to recover his strength—“before I go hence and be no more,”
the general inference being that to the Hebrew mind the life beyond the
grave resembled bare existence rather than a life with positive
activities and positive functions to perform.

The tendency to regard the unknown with suspicion and doubt is
incidental to the laws of our nature, and history demonstrates that only
a courageous buoyancy won through the ceaseless efforts of mankind to
combat the Mother who bore them, can overcome this as all other
tendencies inherent in human nature. To the peoples of antiquity the
world beyond was unknown and dark, for primitive man perforce regards as
dark a state of existence concerning which he is in the dark, just as he
has invariably attributed the causes of physical phenomena outside his
ken to the powers of darkness, but the very darkness of the other world
so far from diminishing the reality of its existence in his primitive
mind, seems to have contrariwise, intensified it; he regarded the unseen
through the medium of a mental telescope—to him it loomed dark but big;
seeing was by no means the necessary condition of his believing, he
believed where he did not see, and his imagination proved quite adequate
to the occasion. In the twentieth century on the other hand there is an
inclination to regard the unknown as _ipso facto_ non-existent, but it
must be confessed that the tendency exhibited by early man to accredit
the unknown with an even greater reality than the known, accords more
closely with the archetypal idealism of Plato and others whose mental
development is at least of no mean order, and whose theories have not as
yet stood convicted at the bar of Logic.


Those readers who may desire to enlarge their information on any
particular subject referred to in this volume cannot do better than
consult the following works. For a history of the excavations,
Hilprecht’s _Explorations in Bible Lands_ (T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh), is
a most useful book. For further details regarding the excavations at
Nippur Peters’ _Nippur, or Explorations and Adventures on the Euphrates_
(Putman) should be consulted, and also Fisher’s _Excavations at Nippur_
(Philadelphia). For a study of cuneiform writing and the inscriptions,
Sayce’s _Archæology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions_ (S.P.C.K.) should be
read. It is the most recent work on the subject, is full of interest and
original ideas. For the literature of the Babylonians and Assyrians, see
Harper’s _Literature of the Assyrians and Babylonians_, (Aldine
Library), which contains the translation of a thoroughly representative
selection of the literary products of both countries.

An account of the excavations carried on during the last decade by the
Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft at Babylon and Ashur will be found in the
official reports of Koldewey and Andrae in the Mitteilungen of the
Society (published by J. Hinrichs’sche, Buchhandlung Leipzig), while for
a detailed account of the Anu-Adad temple at Ashur Andrae’s _Der
Anu-Adad Tempel_ (also published by Hinrichs) should be consulted. The
works of De Sarzec and Heuzey (published by E. Leroux, Paris) should be
studied by those who wish to gain a full and comprehensive account of
the excavations at Tellô; of these the _Découvertes en Chaldée_ is the
most important. This magnificently illustrated work, which contains a
complete statement of the early discoveries made on this site, and also
a critical and well-balanced judgment of the deductions which we may
make from those discoveries, is unquestionably one of the most important
contributions to the study of Sumerian art. Of M. Heuzey’s smaller
works, _Une Villa Royale Chaldéenne_ (Leroux, Paris) is calculated to be
of special interest to the student of Babylonian architecture, while his
numerous articles in the _Revue d’Assyriologie_ (Leroux, Paris) and
papers in the _Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles
Lettres_ solve many of the problems which beset the study of oriental
art. In regard to Cylinder-seals, the monumental work which has recently
been published by W. Hayes Ward, _The Cylinder-Seals of Western Asia_
(Carnegie Institute) is by far the most comprehensive on the subject,
and is the culmination of a great many years’ research in the public and
private collections of Europe and America.

For the study of Law, the reader should consult C. J. Johns’ _Babylonian
and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters_ (Edinburgh), _Assyrian Deeds
and Documents_ (Cambridge), and _An Assyrian Doomsday Book_ (Delitzsch
and Haupt, _Assyriologische Bibliothek_, Band XVII, Leipzig), while the
student of Babylonian and Assyrian Religion should refer to Morris
Jastrow’s _Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_ (Boston, U.S.A), which is
the only exhaustive work on the subject. For a detailed and
comprehensive treatment of the arts and crafts of the Babylonians and
Assyrians in the light of the material available when the book was
published, Perrot and Chipiez, _History of Art in Chaldaea and Assyria_
(Chapman & Hall, London; A. C. Armstrong & Son, New York) should be

In regard to manners, customs and general mode of life, reference should
be made to the standard works of Maspero—_The Dawn of Civilization_,
_The Struggle of the Nations_, and _The Passing of the Empires_
(S.P.C.K., London), to the same writer’s (Maspero) _Life in Ancient
Egypt and Assyria_ (Chapman & Hall) to Sayce’s _Assyrians and
Babylonians_ (J. C. Nimmo, London); and to Delitzsch’s _Handel und
Wandel in Altbabylonien_ (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart), while
for military matters, the reader should consult J. Hunger’s _Heerwesen
und Kriegführung der Assyrer_ in _Der Alte Orient 1911_.

This volume does not deal with the history of the Babylonians and
Assyrians, but those interested in that branch should read Rogers’
_History of Babylonia and Assyria_ (Eaton & Mains, New York; Jennings &
Pye, Cincinnati), Goodspeed’s _A History of the Babylonians and
Assyrians_ (Smith, Elder & Co., London); and the standard-works of
Maspero—_The Dawn of Civilization_, _The Struggle of the Nations and The
Passing of the Empires_ (S.P.C.K., London) for a general history, while
for the early period King’s _Sumer and Akkad_ (Chatto & Windus) and
Radau’s _Early Babylonian History_ (Oxford University Press) should be



  Mesilim, king of Kish, suzerain of Southern Babylonia       3000


  Ur-Ninâ, the founder of dynasty                             3000
  Enannatum I
  Enannatum II
  Urukagina, defeated by Lugal-zaggisi, king of Erech         2800
      and Sumer


  Sharru-Gi                                                   2750


  Shar-Gâni-sharri, established empire embracing Assyria,     2650
      Syria and Palestine


  Ur-Bau                                                      2500
  Gudea                                                       2450


  Ur-Engur                                                    2400

  Dungi, sacks Babylon, exercises suzerainty over Babylonia,
      extends his sway to Elam

  Bur-Sin I



  DYNASTY OF ISIN.                                          2300-2100


  Khammurabi, king of Babylon, establishes a powerful            1900
      kingdom in Babylonia, expels the Elamites who
      had effected a settlement in Ur and Larsa, restores
      Shar-Gâni-Sharri’s empire in Palestine and embraces
      Assyria within the sphere of his influence

    This dynasty is brought to an end by an invasion
      of the Hittites, who captured Babylon

    The Kassites from the mountainous district, east of
      the Tigris, invade Babylonia and establish themselves
      as kings of Babylon. About a century
      after the Kassite invasion Assyria asserts her independence
      and becomes a separate kingdom

  (?) Ushpia,[192] the probable founder of the temple of         2100

  (?) Ki-Ki-a, the first builder of the Dûru at Ashur,           2000
       restorer of the temple of Ashur, and builder of
       the Adad-temple

  Shalmaneser I                                                  1300

  Tukulti-Ninib I, king of Assyria, conquers Babylonia           1275

  Ashur-rêsh-ishi                                                1140

  Tiglath-Pileser I                                              1100

  Ashur-naṣir-pal extends the limits of the empire            885-860

  Shalmaneser II becomes master of the whole of               860-825
      Western Asia. The Israelites under Jehu
      acknowledge his suzerainty

  Tiglath-Pileser III recovers the ground lost by his         745-727
      immediate predecessors, carries the tribes of
      Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh
      into captivity

  Shalmaneser IV besieges Samaria                             727-722

  Sargon, the usurper, takes Samaria and transports           722-705
      most of population; defeats Egyptians and
      Philistines at Raphia; reduces Babylonia,
      carries on war in Elam; builds great palace at

  Sennacherib reduces rebellious Babylonia; defeats           705-681
      Egyptians at Altaku in Dan; carries on war
      in Palestine; Hezekiah of Judah acknowledges
      his suzerainty; destroys Babylon (689)

  Esarhaddon conquers Lower Egypt (672)                       681-668

  Ashur-bani-pal invades Egypt, the latter having             668-626
      thrown off the Assyrian yoke; sacks Thebes,
      the Egyptian capital (666); entirely subjugates
      Elam; defeats and puts to death Shamash-shum-ukîn,
      Viceroy of Babylonia

    Egypt and Lydia assert their independence

    The Medes made raid on the eastern borders
      of the empire (_circ._ 634)

  Ashur-bani-pal dies                                             626

      Shortly after his death the Median king
      Cyaxares defeats Assyrians and besieges
      Nineveh. Invasion of Scythian hordes momentarily
      checks Cyaxares, but soon after
      Cyaxares and possibly Nabopolassar, an Assyrian
      general in Babylon, besiege and ultimately
      capture and destroy Nineveh (_circ._ 607)

      Assyria goes to the Medes, Babylonia to
      Nabopolassar, who founds the Neo-Babylonian


  Nabopolassar                                                625-604

  Nebuchadnezzar II defeated Necho, king of Egypt,            604-561
      before his accession; captures Jerusalem and
      takes Judah into captivity

  Nabonidus, entrusts Babylon to his son Belshazzar.          555-538
      Cyrus, the Persian, invades Babylonia, captures
      Babylon and destroys the Neo-Babylonian


[1] Cf. Ward, _Seal Cylinders_, p. 24 ff.

[2] Cf. Pinches, _Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology_,
1910, p. 42.

[3] “Sargon” (i.e. Sharru-ukîn) was the name given to this ancient king
by the later Assyrian scribes.

[4] Cf. however Fisher in _Records of the Past_, Vol. II, part iv, p.

[5] Cf. Fisher, _Excavations at Nippur_, p. 1; and Prestwich, _Geology_

[6] Cf. _Comptes Rendus, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres_,
1894, p. 409.

[7] Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, p. 30, Fig. 55.

[8] Cf. note on page 86.

[9] Cf. Clay, _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, XXIII, p. 269.

[10] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, Fig. 289.

[11] Cf. Fig. 25, E.

[12] Cf. Ungnad in _Orient. Lit. XI._, 1908, _cols._ 533-537.

[13] Cf. Botta, _Nineveh_, II, Plates 108, 110; Layard, Series II,
Plates 9, 32.

[14] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, Fig. 179.

[15] Cf. No. 43, Nineveh Gallery, British Museum.

[16] Cf. Perrot and Chipiez, II, p. 153.

[17] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, Fig. 93.

[18] For representations of birds on Assyrian bas-reliefs, cf. Botta,
_Nineveh_, II, Plates 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, and Layard,
Series II, Plates 9, 32, 40.

[19] Cf. p. 185.

[20] Layard, _Nineveh_, p. 74 ff.

[21] Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 236.

[22] It has been argued that the burnt condition of human remains
discovered in Mesopotamia is in all cases to be regarded as the effect
of a general conflagration, and that in fact cremation was never
practised. But if such be the case, then the pottery buried with the
burnt human remains would similarly bear the marks of burning. In many
cases the pottery apparently affords no definite evidence for or against
the theory, but Dr. Koldewey informs me that the vessels containing the
burnt remains of human beings at Surghul, showed no trace of their
having been in the fire themselves, so here at all events we have clear
and incontrovertible evidence of the practice of cremation in Babylonia.

[23] Cf. Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 317.

[24] For description of the ziggurat, cf. p. 133 ff.

[25] Cf. however, Jastrow, _Journal of the American Oriental Society_,
vol. XXVII, pp. 147 ff.

[26] Clay, _Records of the Past_, Vol. II, Part II, pp. 47 ff.

[27] For a description of the famous Ishtar-Gate, and for further
details regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s palace, cf. pp. 136, 137, 149.

[28] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 44, p. 11.

[29] For an account of this temple, cf. chapter on Architecture, pp. 141

[30] Cf. further, pp. 176 ff.

[31] Cf. Andrae, _Mitteilungen_, No. 38, pp. 23 ff.

[32] Cf. further pp. 144 ff.

[33] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 42, p. 42.

[34] _Ibidem_, No. 42, p. 35.

[35] _Ibidem_, No. 43, p. 34.

[36] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 44, p. 34.

[37] The Zend-Avesta is practically the equivalent of the Bible and
prayer-book of the Zoroastrians. The Zoroastrian faith flourished as
early as the sixth century B.C., and probably became the religion of the
later Achaemenian kings.

[38] The Pehlevi language and literature belongs to the middle Persian
period, i.e. from the third to the ninth century or so A.D. The language
is related to old Persian on the one hand, and to modern Persian on the
other. The Zend as it were bridged over the gulf between modern and
ancient Persian, and was of the greatest assistance in the decipherment
of the old Persian language as found in the cuneiform inscriptions.

[39] _Archæology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions_, p. 8.

[40] Squeezes are made by means of a series of layers of thick paper,
which has been moistened, the impression being gained by applying the
substance thus formed to the inscription and beating it in with a brush.

[41] A partial duplicate of this inscription on the Behistun Rock is
inscribed on a dolerite block discovered by the German excavators at
Babylon; it contains many interesting additions.

[42] The term “Assyrian” is used, as a large part of the earlier
Babylonian literature comes down to us through Assyrian hands, being
copied and as it were republished by Assyrian scribes. Assyrian and
Babylonian were different dialects of the same language; similarly
Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform exhibit great differences in style,
Babylonian being more cursive and generally therefore more difficult to

[43] Cf. A. J. Booth, _Trilingual Inscriptions_; Rogers, _History_, pp.
175 ff.; Sayce, _Archæology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions_, pp. 1-35;
Harper, _Biblical World_, XVI, pp. 294-7, 371-3 (a short and concise

[44] For references to texts in which these signs occur, cf. G. A.
Barton in Harper’s _Old Testament and Semitic Studies_, Vol. II, pp. 241

[45] Cf. _Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania IV,
Series D_, for this Babylonian boundary-stone and for a full discussion
of the subject generally.

[46] An eponym was an official of high rank—sometimes the king
himself—who held office for a year, and whose name was used to date all
documents drawn up in that year. He corresponded to the Roman consul and
the Athenian archon.

[47] Cf. Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 517.

[48] A “plano-convex” brick is a brick which is flat on one side and
convex or oval on the other, its general appearance resembling an oblong
cake, or a small pillow.

[49] Cf. De Sarzec et Heuzey, _Une Villa Royale Chaldéenne_, p. 47.

[50] Cf. Loftus, _Travels_, p. 189.

[51] Loftus, _Travels_, p. 187.

[52] Cf. Heuzey, _Une Villa Royale_, p. 48.

[53] Heuzey, _Une Villa Royale_, pp. 47, 48.

[54] In the northern fortification wall, and according to Koldewey,
there only on the Kasr, great building blocks of limestone were also

[55] J. R. A. S., 1855, p. 266.

[56] _Ibidem_, p. 407.

[57] Cf. Harper, _Assyrian and Babylonian Literature_, p. 57.

[58] _Ibid._, p. 87.

[59] Cf. King, _Sumer and Akkad_, p. 88.

[60] Cf. Taylor in J. R. A. S., 1855, pp. 261 ff.

[61] Cf. J. R. A. S., 1855, pp. 405 ff.

[62] Cf. however Andrae, _Der Anu-Adad Tempel_, p. 80.

[63] Cf. Pinches, Hastings Dict., Religion and Morals, “Architecture,”
_Perrot and Chipiez_, II, p. 393; Layard, _Discoveries_, pp. 348 ff.

[64] Cf. Harper, _Assyrian and Babylonian Literature_, pp. 25, 26.

[65] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 44, p. 30.

[66] Cf. _Découvertes_, Pl. 22 bis, Figs. 2_b_, 3_b_.

[67] Cf. Andrae, _Der Anu-Adad Tempel_, p. 80.

[68] Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 286.

[69] Loftus, _Chaldæa and Susiana_, p. 133; J. R. A. S., XV, pp. 265,

[70] Loftus, pp. 187 ff.

[71] Cf. p. 80.

[72] Cf. Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 372.

[73] _Ibidem_, p. 402.

[74] Cf. Taylor, _Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_, 1853, p. 269.

[75] Loftus, _Travels_, pp. 174 ff.

[76] Cf. _Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_, 1855, p. 406.

[77] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 43, p. 7.

[78] Cf. Layard, _Discoveries_, p. 590; Dieulafoy, _L’Art Antique_, V,
pp. 57 ff.; _Perrot and Chipiez_, p. 214.

[79] Place discovered an eight-sided column at Karambs, but it
apparently belonged to the Parthian period (Place, _Nineveh_, II, pp.
169 ff.).

[80] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 40, p. 25.

[81] Cf. _Ibid._, No. 40, p. 24.

[82] Cf. _Ibid._, No. 42, p. 40.

[83] Cf. Hilprecht, _Explorations_, pp. 397 ff.

[84] Cf. J.R.A.S., 1855, p. 266.

[85] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 8, p. 4.

[86] Cf. _Perrot and Chipiez_, p. 231.

[87] Cf. Fig. 9.

[88] Cf. Andrae, _Mitteilungen_, No. 27, pp. 29-32.

[89] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 40, p. 29.

[90] Cf. Hilprecht, _Babylonian Expedition of the University of
Pennsylvania_, Vol. I, part ii, Pl. XVI.

[91] Hilprecht, _Explorations_, pp. 474, 475.

[92] Cf. also above, Fig. 28, A.

[93] Cf. above, p. 33.

[94] For a rough sketch, cf. Rawlinson, _The Five Great Monarchies_, II,

[95] Cf. p. 45.

[96] Cf. Rawlinson, _Five Monarchies_, pp. 151-62.

[97] Cf. E. J. Banks, _Scientific American_, Aug. 19, 1905, p. 137;
_American Journal of Semitic Languages_, XXI, p. 59.

[98] _Comptes rendus_, 1907, p. 399.

[99] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 29.

[100] Cf. _Découvertes_, Pl. 24, Fig. 2.

[101] _Revue Archéologique_, 1894, I, 108.

[102] Cf. Heuzey, in _Mon. Mem. Acad. Insc. Fondation Piot_, XII, pp.
19-28, and _C. R. Acad. Inser._, 1905, p. 75.

[103] Cf. _Mon. Piot._, t. VII, Pl. 1, Fig. 1, and _Louvre Cat._, p.

[104] Cf. _Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_, XV, p. 410.

[105] Cf. Sayce, _Archæology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions_, p. 58.

[106] Cf. _Découvertes_, Pl. 28, Figs. 1 and 2.

[107] Cf. Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 539.

[108] Cf. _Louvre Cat._, No. 173; and _Mon. Piot._, t. VII, Pl. I, Fig.

[109] Cf. Harper, _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, XX, pp. 266,

[110] Cf. King, _Sumer and Akkad_, p. 26; and Hilprecht, _Explorations_,
p. 156.

[111] Layard, _Discoveries_, p. 357.

[112] Cf. Boscawen, _Transactions of the Society of Biblical
Archæology_, 1876, p. 347.

[113] Layard, _Discoveries_, p. 177.

[114] Cf. the Taylor Cylinder of Sennacherib.

[115] For an admirable reproduction of the best half of the Balâwât
Gates, a good introduction, and translation of text, cf. Birch and
Pinches, _The Bronze Ornaments of the Palace Gates of Balâwât_. Cf. also
Delitzsch, _Beiträge zur Assyriologie_.

[116] For translation, cf. Ungnad, _Or. Lit._, IX (1906), 534-8.

[117] Cf. Delitzsch, _Records of the Past_, 1903, pp. 323 ff.

[118] Cf. Harper, _Assyrian and Babylonian Literature_, p. 129.

[119] Harper, _Assyrian and Babylonian Literature_, p. 14.

[120] Cf. Harper, _Assyrian and Babylonian Literature_, pp. 54, 99.

[121] Cf. Perrot and Chipiez, p. 277.

[122] Layard, _Nineveh_ I, p. 64; II, pp. 306, 307.

[123] Layard, _Nineveh_, II, p. 15.

[124] _Ibid._, I, p. 130.

[125] Cf. Delitzsch, _Mitteilungen_, No. 6, pp. 13-17; and Diodorus II,

[126] Cf. Koldewey, _Mitteilungen_, No. 3, pp. 5, 10, 11.

[127] Layard, _Monuments_, Series II, Pl. 55, 6; and Layard,
_Discoveries_, p. 167.

[128] _Discoveries_, p. 166.

[129] A considerable number of the seal-impressions here reproduced are
taken from Dr. W. Hayes Ward’s monumental work on cylinder-seals in
Western Asia, by the author’s generous permission.

[130] _Scarabs_, p. 5.

[131] Ward, _The Seal-Cylinders of Western Asia_, p. 1.

[132] Cf. Ward, _Seal-Cylinders_, p. 69.

[133] Cf. _Seal-Cylinders_, p. 48, Fig. 127.

[134] Cf. Ward, p. 128.

[135] Cf. _Mitteilung._, No. 9, p. 6.

[136] Cf. Menant, _Pierres Gravées_, II, p. 132; Ward, p. 193.

[137] Cf. Ward, p. 197.

[138] Cf. Heuzey, _Cat._, pp. 387 ff.

[139] For the early history of inlaid jewellery cf. Dalton,
_Archæologia_, LVIII, pp. 237-74.

[140] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 44, p. 24.

[141] Cf. also the Assyrian seal reproduced in Fig. 76.

[142] Jastrow, _Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 208.

[143] Cf. Heuzey, _Catalogue des Figurines de terre cuite du Musée du
Louvre_, Pl. I, Fig. 2.

[144] For the other two, cf. _Ibidem_, Pl. I, Figs. 1 and 3.

[145] Cf. Heuzey, _Les Figurines Antiques de terre cuite_, Pl. II, Fig.

[146] Cf. Koldewey, _Mitteilungen_, No. 5, pp. 19, 20.

[147] Cf. Banks, _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, Vol. 22, p. 35

[148] Cf. Banks, _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, Vol. 22, p.

[149] Cf. Hilprecht, _Babylonian Expedition_, Vol. I, part ii, Pl. XX.

[150] Cf. _Découvertes, Description_, p. 118; Hilprecht, _Explorations_,
p. 170.

[151] Cf. p. 243.

[152] Cf. Layard, _Discoveries_, p. 197.

[153] Cf. Hilprecht, _Explorations_, p. 407.

[154] Hilprecht, _The Babylonian Expedition of the University of
Pennsylvania_, Series A, Vol. I, part ii, Pl. 27.

[155] Cf. E. J. Banks, _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, Vol. 22,
p. 139.

[156] _Ibidem_, p. 140.

[157] Cf. E. J. Banks, _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, Vol. 22,
p. 140.

[158] Cf. _Comptes Rendus, Académie des Inscriptions et des Belles
Lettres_ 1904, p. 115.

[159] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 40, p. 8.

[160] Cf. _Ibid._, No. 26, p. 19.

[161] Cf. Heuzey, _Catalogue des Antiquités Chaldéennes_, p. 249.

[162] Prince, _Journal of the American Oriental Society_, XXVI, p. 93.

[163] Cf. _American Journal of Semitic Languages_, April, 1905, p. 173.

[164] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, Fig. 139 _c_.

[165] Cf. Heuzey, _Comptes Rendus_, 1908, pp. 415-22.

[166] Cf. _Comptes Rendus_, p. 418, Fig. C.

[167] Cf. Sayce, _Archæology of Cuneiform Inscriptions_, pp. 65, 66.

[168] Cf. Botta, II, Pl. 155.

[169] An interesting bead of black marble, measuring 1-1/2 × 5/8 inches
was discovered at Ashur; it bears an inscription of Shalmaneser, the
purport of which is that that king brought the bead from a temple in

[170] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 7, p. 18.

[171] Cf. Botta, _Monument_, II, Pls. 90, 93.

[172] Cf. Rawlinson, _Five Monarchies_, II, p. 49.

[173] Cf. Rawlinson, _Five Monarchies_, II, p. 43.

[174] Cf. p. 17.

[175] Cf. p. 10.

[176] Cf. Johns, _An Assyrian Doomsday Book_, p. 19.

[177] Cf. Erman, _Life in Ancient Egypt_, p. 426; and Wilkinson, I, p.

[178] Cf. Genouillac, p. xlix.

[179] Cf. p. 346.

[180] Cf. Genouillac, p. lii.

[181] This work comprises an autographed text, transliteration,
translation, glossary, index of subjects, list of proper names, signs
and numerals, together with a map, frontispiece, and photograph of text.

[182] Cf. Jastrow, _Religion_, pp. 116 ff.

[183] Cf. Johns, _Doomsday Book_, p. 26.

[184] _Ibid._, p. 20.

[185] Cf. Jastrow, pp. 191 ff.

[186] Jastrow, _Religion_, p. 226.

[187] _Ibid._, p. 83.

[188] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, pp. 391, 392.

[189] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, pp. 391 ff.

[190] Cf. Ward, _Cylinder-Seals_, p. 398.

[191] _Ibid._, p. 407.

[192] Cf. _Mitteilungen_, No. 21, p. 49.


  Abêshu’, k. of Babylon, 33

  Abû Adham, 163

  Abû Habba, 3, 60, 68;
    cf. also Sippar

  Abû Hatab, 77

  Abû Shahrein, 121, 134, 156, 157, 163, 242, 263

  Acacia, 12

  Accounts, lists of, 109

  Achaemenian inscriptions, 86

  Adab. Cf. Bismâya

  Adad. 263, 388, 391, 397

  Adad-nirari I, 78, 81, 254

  Adad-nirari II, 81

  Adad-nirari III, 43, 81, 233, 268

  Adar, 232, 323

  Agade, 7, 29

  Agate, 76, 287, 340

  Agents, 381

  Agglutinative languages, 105

  Agriculture, 13, 14, 367, 368, 377, 389

  Ahab, 36, 316

  Ahaz, k. of Judah, 36, 111

  Akkad. Cf. Agade

  Alabaster, 14, 75, 76, 83, 146, 225, 226, 326

  Alashiya, 109

  Alcohol, 370

  Alexander the Great, 3, 39

  Altaku, battle of, 37

  Altars, 135, 141, 184, 206, 301

  Amen, 365

  Amenḥetep III, 21, 108

  Amenḥetep IV, 108; cf. Khuenaten

  Amethyst, 287, 340

  Amphora, 298

  Amran, 71, 72

  Amulets, 116, 321

  Amurru, land of, 130

  Andrae, excavations and discoveries by, 69, 77, 140, 142, 149-51,
    176, 254, 335 _et passim_

  Animals, 14-24, 244, 270, 271

  “Ankh” sign, 314

  Antelope, 16, 19, 184, 291

  Antiochus Soter, 59

  Anu, the god, 102, 388, 391;
    Temple of, 397

  Anu-Adad Temple, 141-4, 323

  Apil-Sin, 110

  Appeal, Court of, 384

  Arabia, 114

  Arad-Sin, 32

  Arakhtu canal, 74

  Aralu, 400

  Aramaic brick-inscriptions, 70

  Archers, 195, 261, 350-6

  Arches and arched structures, 156, 168-80, 210

  Architecture, 119-80

  Armenia, 10

  Arrow, copper heads, 242;
    emblem, 398

  Artaxerxes I, 66

  Ashdod, 53, 112, 113

  Ashur, 141-4, 178, 180, 200, 229, 232, 254, 261, 263, 335

  Ashur, the god, 25, 79, 146, 306, 307, 391, 392, 397

  Ashur-bani-pal, 2, 38, 39, 56, 64, 71, 73, 114, 150, 218-22, 268

  Ashur-bêl-kala, 35, 48, 229

  Ashur-etil-ilâni, 43

  Ashur-naṣir-pal, 20, 24, 35, 48, 78, 80, 81, 140, 141, 145, 199,
    201, 202, 205, 230, 239, 240

  Ashur-rêsh-ishi, 81, 142

  Askelon, 37

  Ass, 14, 18, 220, 366

  Assyrian army, 350;
    buildings, 140-48, 151-58;
    civilization of, 3, 34;
    cylinder-seals, 304;
    laws, customs, etc., 344, 389-95;
    sculpture, 200, 229

  Astrolabæ, 116

  Astrology, 104, 109

  Aten, disc of, 306

  Axe, 254, 340

  Babil, 59

  Babylon, 29, 59, 69, 114, 116, 241, 268 _et passim_;
    cf. also Ḳasr

  Babylonia, 3, 4, 10, 156, 181, 222, 375, 386

  Balâwât, 15, 55, 258

  Bandlets, 216

  Bank, artificial, 208

  Banks, E. J., excavations and discoveries by, 6, 82, 172, 223,
    326, 333, 334

  Barbaro, Josafat, 85

  Barbel, 27

  Barley, 11

  Barton, G. A., 96, 98

  Basalt, 14, 81, 167, 198, 232, 240, 326

  Baskets, 190

  Basket-carriers, 247

  Bas-reliefs, 181-200, 201-22, 271, 272, 273, 274

  Battering-rams, 203, 208, 261, 359 f.

  Battle-axes, 188, 193

  Bau, the goddess, 326, 365, 367, 373, 397

  Baumgarten, 74

  Bavian relief of Sennacherib, 81, 397

  Bazu, land of, 23

  Beans, 370

  Bearded and beardless Assyrians, 239

  Beef, 366

  Beer, 383

  Behistun inscription, 90

  Bêl, 17, 71, 391, 397

  Bêlit, 71, 393

  Bells, bronze, 255

  Bel-Merodach, 305

  Belshazzar, 39, 51

  Belus, temple of, 138

  Berosus, 150

  Bey, Bedri, excavations by, 68

  Bilingual tablets, 104

  Bingani-shar-ali, 294

  Bint-el-Amir, 64

  Birch, 261

  Birds, in Mesopotamian art, etc., 24, 115, 184, 367

  Birs-Nimrûd, 18, 29, 51;
    cf. also Borsippa

  Bismâya, 6, 82, 83, 121, 123, 159, 223, 251, 326, 327, 333

  Bisons, 2, 3, 23, 292

  Bitumen, 124 f., 226, 243, etc.

  Black Obelisk, 15, 267; 93

  Blow-pipe, 331

  Boars, 19, 24

  Boats, 14, 259, 334, 361 f.

  Bone, implements of, 74, 178

  Boomerang, weapons shaped like, 183, 188, 298, 340, 341 ff.

  Booth, A. J., 94

  Borsippa, 29, 59; cf. Birs-Nimrûd

  Boscawen, 254

  Botta, discoveries and excavations by, 41, 279, 321, 335, 345 etc.

  Boundary-stones, 16, 101, 111, 395

  Bows and arrows, 193, 203, 204, 205, 208, 216, 219, 341

  Bracelets, 202, 212, 230, 233, 261, 268, 347, 348

  Branding, 385

  Bread, 11, 370

  Breccia, 70, 71

  Bricks, 120-3

  Bridge of boats, 259

  Bronze, 13, 54, 55, 103, 150, 242, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256,
    261, 262, 267

  Budge, E. A. Wallis, excavations by, 68

  Buffalo, 2, 3, 23, 45, 293

  Bull, 15, 17, 24, 213, 214, 236, 237-9, 257, 272, 275, 276, 280,
    289, 298, 305, 310, 398

  Burials, 62, 69, 74, 75, 77, 80, 176-8, 190, 365

  Burnouf, Emile, 90

  Bur-Sin, 77, 104, 253, 301, 324

  Business-contracts, 371

  Bustard, 26

  Cabbage, 390

  Calah, 35;
    cf. also Nimrûd

  Calf, 192, 398

  Camels, 15, 390

  Camp-stools, 291, 297

  Capital offences, 384

  Capsules, 158, 323

  Carchemish, 39

  Carnelian, 287

  Carpenters, 227, 366

  Carts, 214

  Case-tablets, 106

  Cavalry, Assyrian, 281, 353 f.

  Caylus, Count, 86

  Cedar-wood, 2, 73, 130, 131, 150, 161, 258

  Chalcedony, cylinder-seals of, 287

  Champollion, 89

  Chardin, 85

  Chariots, 15, 188, 203, 204, 219, 220, 259, 281, 295, 304, 354 f.

  Chickens, as offerings, 367

  Chinese art and language, 10

  Chosroes, 41

  Cilicia, 38

  Clark, C. H., 63

  Clay, 75, 77, 95, 103-18, 252, 273, 274 ff., 324

  Clay, A. T., discoveries by, 65, 303, 331

  Clay, E. W., 63

  Cloth, coverings of clay urns, 334

  Club, emblem, 398

  Cock, 26

  Coffins, 49

  Colour boxes, 77

  Colours, 270, 283

  Columns, 160-8, 396, 397

  Combs, 349

  Commagene, 34

  Commercial tablets, 110

  Cones, 111, 112, 123, 148, 202, 249

  Copper, 75, 77, 180, 242-7, 249, 252, 286

  Coral, 340

  Coriander, 390

  Corundum, 287

  Cosmologies, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hebrew, 4

  Cotton, 347

  Couch, royal, 221

  “Country of the Sea,” 33, 34

  Cow, 366

  Crane, 26

  Creation legends, 53

  Cremation, 62

  Crenelated walls, 152, 203, 211, 227, 261

  Crescent, 296, 302, 305, 306, 308, 395

  Crews for transport-barges, 107

  Cros, Gaston, excavations and discoveries by, 84, 235, 334, 344

  Crown-lands, 391

  “Crux ansata,” 314

  Crystal, 287

  Ctesias, 141

  Cucumbers, 370

  Cuneiform inscriptions and literature, 85-116, 203

  Cups, 184, 205, 221, 326, 327

  Cutha, 29

  Cyaxares, 39

  Cylinder-seals, 284-308

  Cypress, 2, 73

  Cyprus, 294

  Cyrus, 39, 74

  Dabigu, 260

  Daggers, 202, 219, 281, 298, 311

  Dagan, 307, 319, 320

  Damascus, 114

  Darius II, 66

  Date, 12, 13, 370

  Dating, Babylonian method of, 110

  Dead, future state and offerings for, 374, 399 f.

  De Bruin, 85

  Deer, 3, 24, 220, 265

  Deification of kings, 375

  Deities on seals, 291 f.

  Deity seated, 198;
    cf. also Gods

  De la Becke, Sir H., 283

  Delitzsch, Friedrich, 61, 71, 74, 261, 264, 273

  Deluge story, 53

  Demons, 140, 262, 321

  De Morgan, J., 226

  Dêr, 68

  De Sacy, 86

  De Sarzec, excavations and discoveries by, 13, 56-8, 161, 171,
    187, 195, 227, 234, 243, 244, 248, 253, 329

  De Saulcy, 93

  Diarbekr, 195, 200

  Diodorus, 59, 90, 127, 273

  Diorite, 14, 81, 146, 227, 228, 229

  Disc, of sun, 206

  Disc, winged, 395

  Distraint, 382

  Divorce, 365

  Dogs, 14, 18, 19, 220, 235, 297, 398

  Dolerite, 14, 57, 69, 91, 241

  Domes, 155

  Dove, 26, 323, 398

  Dowries, 376

  Dragons, 275, 295, 305, 336

  Drains, 158-60

  Dress, 181, 198, 216, 221, 223, 226, 230, 232, 233, 281, 337-56

  Ducks, 367

  Duck weights, 26

  Dudu, 192, 266, 289

  Dungi, 6, 32, 50, 82, 101, 110, 247, 298, 301

  Dûr Sharrukîn, 41, 279;
    cf. also Khorsabad

  “Dûru,” the, 81

  Ea, the god, 27, 73, 299, 388, 391, 392, 396, 397

  Ea-bani, 2, 292, 293, 330, 403

  Eagle, 24, 25, 280, 291, 306, 310, 398

  Eagle, Etana and, 297

  Eannatum, 27, 57, 187, 188, 326

  Earrings, 252, 264, 347, 348

  East India House Inscription, 140, 150

  Ebony, 349

  Eggs, stone, 340

  Egypt, 3, 4, 38, 256, 258, 268, 269, 286, 312, 313

  Egyptian hieroglyphics, 5, 331

  “Ekimmu,” 403

  Ekron, 37

  Ekua, 73

  E-kur, 399

  Elamites, 2, 31, 32, 37, 38, 114, 199, 247

  El-Hibba, 61, 148

  En-lil, the god, 17, 62, 133-6, 325, 326, 373

  Enlitarzi, 373

  Entemena, 12, 30, 137, 191, 265, 326

  Enubi-Marduk, 108

  Envelopes, 105, 106

  E-pa, 133, 136

  Eponyms, 114

  Erech, 9, 29, 30;
    cf. also Warka

  Eridu, 27, 29;
    cf. also Abû Shahrein

  Erman, 369

  E-sagila, temple of Marduk, 71-3, 115, 199

  Esar, k. of Adab, 223

  Esarhaddon, 13, 23, 38, 43, 73, 78, 114

  Eschatology, 399-405

  Esneh, 4

  Etana, 297

  E-temen-an-ki, 73, 138

  Eulmash-shakin-shûm, 205

  Euphrates, 10, 11

  Euting, Prof., 122

  Exchange, mediums of, 367

  Eyes, 181, 191, 202, 308

  E-zida, 51, 59, 115

  Face-masks, 264

  Fâra, 74, 121, 157, 172, 242, 250

  Feathers, 181, 403

  Feudalism, 390, 391

  Field, Mr., 63

  Figs, 13, 217, 370

  Fish, 26, 27, 115, 281, 334, 370

  Fisher, C. S., 10, 63, 136

  Fish-god, 307, 319;
    cf. also Dagon

  Fishing-hooks, 76

  Flandin, 272

  Flint, 75, 242, 287

  Flowers, 13, 277, 278, 301

  Fly-flaps, 205, 216, 221

  Foot-wear, 202, 271, 280, 349

  Fortress, assault of, 210

  Foundation-cylinders, 50, 51

  Fox, 20

  Frazier, W. W., 63

  Freestone, blue, 326

  Fresnel, expedition of, 47, 273, 328

  Frog, 20

  Fruits, 370

  Funerals, 374

  Furniture-makers, 366

  “Future Life,” 76, 399 f.

  Gardeners, 366

  Garlic, 390

  Garnet, 267

  Gates, double-leaved, 210

  Gates, on seals, 297;
    cf. also Balâwât

  Gate-sockets, 57, 65, 83, 102, 259, 267

  Gatumdug, the goddess, 228, 235, 373

  Gaza, 37

  Gazelle, 16, 19, 184, 256, 257

  Geere, H. V., 63

  Genouillac, 364, 370

  Gezer, 254

  Gilgamesh, 3, 53, 191, 289, 292, 293, 311, 330, 338, 372, 393, 403

  Gimil-Sin, 302

  Gishgibilgemesh, 372

  Glass, 42, 76, 180, 286, 331

  Goats, 14, 17, 18, 184, 250, 265, 290, 297, 366

  Goddess, nude, 295, 321 f.

  Gods, 102, 104, 111, 197, 318, 321, 324, 372-5, 386-9, 391-5

  Gold, 6, 72, 73, 74, 79, 83, 139, 150, 263, 264, 286, 323

  Goose, 867, 398

  Grammatical tablets, 104

  Granite, 59, 83

  Griffins, 256, 257

  Grotefend, G. Friedrich, 87

  Gudea, 6, 13, 22, 31, 57, 61, 62, 84, 133, 136, 149, 227, 228,
    235, 243, 298, 299, 318, 329

  Guilds, trade, 376

  Gula, the goddess, 397, 398

  Gum, 370

  Gungunu, 32

  Hadadnadinakhe, 149

  Hades, 400

  Hair, arrangement of, 183, 188, 190, 216, 224, 225, 226, 230, 233,
    244, 338

  Halévy, Joseph, 105

  Halicarnassus, 331

  Handles, lateral, 243

  Hanging gardens, 127

  Hannon, 37

  Hare, 20

  Harper, R. F., excavations and discoveries by, 63, 82, 94, 97, 123,
    131, 142, 264, 267, 377

  Harrison, Provost, 63

  Hatchets, 75, 76, 242, 296

  Hawaiians, war-gods of, 263

  Haynes, excavations and discoveries by, 125, 133, 135, 157, 171, 334

  Head-dresses, 198, 202, 203, 206, 216, 228, 233, 249, 271, 321, 338,
    339, 345, 356, 396

  Hebrews, 404 f.

  Heifers, 266

  Helmets, 187, 188, 193, 195, 212, 281, 350 f.

  _Henna_, 327

  Hereditary principle, 390

  Herodotus, 10, 13, 127, 131, 138, 157, 284

  Heroes, 289, 290

  Heuzey, Léon, discoveries, etc., by, 25, 169, 184, 186, 187, 191,
    192, 251, 246, 310, 321

  Hezekiah, k. of Judah, 37, 38, 208

  Hillah, 285, 322

  Hilprecht, H. V., excavations and discoveries by, 16, 57, 59, 60,
    63, 66, 117, 136, 148, 169, 184, 252, 328, etc.

  Hincks, 91, 92

  Hindiyah Canal, 11, 12

  Historical documents, 104, 110, 111

  Hit, 124

  Hittites, 33, 35, 69

  Holtzman, 91

  Hommel, F., 98, 139

  Honey, 11

  Honeysuckle, paintings of, 282

  Horns, symbolic (?), 211

  Horse, 14, 15, 16, 28, 281, 397

  Hoshea, k. of Israel, 36

  House-building, 383

  Houses, 156-8

  Hunting-scenes, 204-5, 218-21

  Huts, 169

  Hyenas, 24

  Hyksos kings, 16

  Hymns, 104

  Hyssop, 390

  Ibex, 3, 19, 257, 290, 308

  Ibi-Sin, 302

  Igigi, 397

  Ili-Ippalzam, 108

  Ilu-Ittia, 114

  Iluma-ilu, 33

  Imgur-Bêl, 139

  Imgur-Marduk, 67

  Impalement, 208

  Implements, 252

  Inlay work, 236, 249, 250, 251, 254

  Inundation, 4

  Irak, 344

  Irishum, 3, 79

  Iron, 255, 268, 269, 286

  Irrigation, 368, 390

  Ishme-Dagan, 143

  Ishme-Dagan, k. of Isin, 321

  Ishtar, the goddess, 70, 306, 388, 391, 393, 395, 396, 397

  Ishtar’s Gate, 271, 274, 275

  Isin, dynasty of, 32

  Israel, 36

  Ivory, 13, 83, 223, 254, 312

  Ivy, 14

  Jackals, 24

  Jackson, Sir John (Ltd.), 11

  Jade, 287

  Jasper, 287

  Jastrow, Morris, 65, 321, 388, 392, 393

  Jehoiakim, 39

  Jehu, 15

  Jerusalem, 37, 39

  Jewellery, 76, 252, 261, 267, 323, 340, 346, 348

  Job, 404

  Johns, C., 369, 377, 389

  Jonah, 14

  Josephus, 151

  Judah, 36, 38, 39, 112

  Ḳalat Sherḳat, 48, 59, 69, 77, 78, 94, 158, etc.;
    cf. Ashur

  Kallima-Sin, 16

  Kampfer, 85

  “Kanephores,” 246

  “Karduniash,” 34

  Karûn, river, 22

  Ḳasr, 149-51; cf. Babylon

  Kassites, 33, 303, 335

  “Kaunakes” garments, 310

  Khabour, 129

  Khammurabi, 32, 50, 107, 108, 110, 141, 198, 376

  Khipa, 116

  Khorsabad, 41, 131, 160, 174, 239, 272

  Khuenaten, 306

  Khukhnuri, land of, 110

  “Ki-gallu,” 402

  King, L. W., excavations and discoveries by, 84, 252, 311, 408

  Kinneir, 90

  Kish, 5, 29, 30, 310

  Knife, 75, 242, 311, 398

  Kohl, 327

  Koldewey, R., excavations and discoveries by, 61, 68 f, 125, 127,
    130, 144, 146, 149-51, 164, 276, 322, 335, 349

  Kouyunjik collection, 104

  Kudur-Mabuk, 32, 112, 247, 248

  “Kudurrus,” 396; cf. Boundary-stones

  Kurdistan, 16

  Kurigalzu, 303

  Labour, 377

  Lachish, 38, 215-17

  Lacouperie, 10

  Lagash, 6, 9, 29, 191, 192, 265, 289, 290;
    cf. also Tellô

  _Lamassi_, 238

  Lamps, 177, 334, 398

  Lance, 243

  Landlord and tenant, 108, 377 f.

  Lapis lazuli, 76, 102, 225, 250, 288, 315, 340

  Larsa, 17, 29, 30; temples, 139

  Lassen, 90

  Layard, Sir Henry, excavations and discoveries by, 18, 22, 23, 42-7,
    54, 129, 140, 166, 167, 175, 253, 255, 262, 271, 280, 335

  Laws, 198, 384, 398

  Lead, 253, 255, 267, 268

  Leases, 398

  Lebanon, 130

  Leek, 390

  Legal contracts, 105, 106 ff.

  Leopard, 24, 257, 292

  Letters, 107, 108

  Lettuce, 390

  Lever, 214

  Lexicography, 104

  Libations, 205

  Libyan languages, 5

  Limestone, 14, 70, 145, 153, 182, 183, 224, 230, 287, 326, 327

  Linen, 346

  Lions, 20, 21, 22, 24, 185, 218, 219, 234-43, 251, 255, 257, 265,
    270, 275-6, 280-9, 290-1, 293, 309, 324, 330

  Liver, omens derived from, 116

  Locusts, 26

  Loftus, W. K., excavations and discoveries by, 49, 51, 123, 156,
    158, 163, 331

  Longperier, 94

  Lotus-plants, 13, 312

  Löwenstern, 94

  Lu-enna, 267

  Lugal-anda, 288

  Lugal-banda, 111

  Lugal-Kigub-nidudu, 30, 102

  Lugal-Kisali, 30

  Lugal-shar-engur, 29

  Lugal-Tarsi, 102

  Lugal-zaggisi, 30, 326

  Lydia, 39

  Lynxes, 24

  Maat, 314

  Macalister, 254

  Maces, 191, 200, 230, 287

  Magan, 328, 335

  Magic, 104, 109, 374

  Mail, coats of, 350 f.

  Manasseh, 38

  Man-fish, 398

  Manishtusu, 31, 226, 371

  Marble, 42, 55, 83, 223, 287, 326, 328, 347

  Marduk, 33, 48, 71, 73, 199, 273, 306, 386, 391, 392, 397

  Marriage, 364, 376, 389

  Maspero, 269, 408

  Mathematics, 104

  Measures, 372

  Mechanics, 214, 215

  Medes, 39

  Medicine, 104, 109

  Meissner, 69, 390

  Memphis, 38

  Mesilim, k. of Kish, 29, 30, 185, 310

  Mesniu, the, 4

  Messerschmidt, 62

  Metals, Babylonian work, 242-53;
    Assyrian work, 253-69;
    cf. also pp. 83, 103, 131, 132

  Meyer, M. L., excavations by, 61, 69

  Military arrangements, 188, 195

  Milk, 366, 370, 390

  Millet, 11, 13

  Mitani, 109

  Mohammerah, 3, 22

  Mohl, 41

  Money-lenders, 379, 388

  Monkey, 20, 282

  Monotheism, 372, 386

  Moritz, B., 61

  Mortar, 124-6

  Mortgage, 108

  Moschians, 34

  Mother of emerald, 287

  Mother-of-pearl, 83, 249, 250, 309, 311, 340

  Moulds, 252

  Mounds, 6

  Mountain-sheep, 20

  Muḳeyyer, 50, 120, 156, 159, 242

  Mule, 17

  Münter, 86, 87

  Murashû Tablets, 66

  “Mushlala,” 78

  Musical instruments, 197, 204, 205, 221, 222

  Mutilation, 385

  Mutton, 366

  Mythology, 104

  Nabonassar, 110

  Nabonidus, 5, 6, 50, 60

  Nabopolassar, 34, 39, 73, 112, 150, 207

  Nabû. Cf. Nebo

  Nabû-aplu-iddina, 118, 205, 207

  Nails, 243-4, 245, 253, 258

  Nairi, 35

  Names, divinely-compounded, 374

  Nanâ, 391

  Napir-asu, 262

  Narâm-Sin, 5, 7, 8, 30, 31, 57, 64, 67, 83, 84, 117, 135, 193-4-5,
    293, 328

  Nash, W. L., 331

  Nebi Yûnus, 14, 56

  Nebo, 48, 51, 77, 78, 84, 139, 232

  Nebuchadnezzar I, 16, 397

  Nebuchadnezzar II, 39, 50, 51, 73, 115, 138, 140, 149, 150, 243, 331

  Necho, 39

  Necklaces, 197, 264

  Neo-Babylonian Empire, 304

  Nergal, 73, 391

  Neriglissar, 74

  Nets, 310

  Newberry, 284

  Newton, 331

  Niebuhr, Carsten, 86

  Nile, 4

  Nîmit-Marduk, 67

  Nimitti-Bêl, 139

  Nimrûd, 13, 42, 55, 56, 140, 175, 232, 235, 239, 268, 280, 281,
    307, 312, 313, 319

  Ninâ, 13

  Nineveh, 14, 34, 84, 239, 335

  Ningal, 197

  Ningirsu, 29, 133, 183, 186, 191, 266, 299, 372

  Nin-gish-zi-da, 22, 299, 329, 372

  Ninkharshag, 227, 398

  Ninib (Adar), 42, 388, 397

  Nin-lil, 325

  Nin-makh, 71, 136, 137, 278, 322

  Ninsun, 111

  Ninus, 273

  Nippur, 6, 29, 99, 30, 62-8, 116, 121, 132-6, 161-3, 184, 304,
    322, 333

  Norris, Edwin, 91

  Nusku, 398

  Oaks, 13

  Oannes, 27;
    cf. Ea.

  Oars, 363

  Obsidian, 75, 287

  Olive, 11, 13

  Oliver, 90

  Omens, 104;
    Cf. Pigs, Dogs, etc.

  Onions, 370, 390

  Onyx, 83, 287, 326

  Opis, 29

  Oppert, 47, 94, 273, 328

  Oryx, 3, 20

  Ostrich, 25, 307

  Ovid, 141

  Oxen, 14, 16, 253, 273, 366

  Ox-hoof, 115, 254

  Oyster shells, 309

  Padî, k. of Ekron, 113

  Painting, 270-83

  Palaces, Assyrian, 151-6;
    Babylonian, 148-51

  Palm-trees, 129, 158, 221

  Panther, 273

  Partnerships, 382

  Pehlevi, language and inscriptions, 16, 86, 87

  Pepper, Wm., 63

  Percy, Dr., 283

  Perfumery, 366

  Perrot and Chipiez, 140, 238, 271, 408, etc.

  Persepolis, 86, 87, ff.

  Persian cuneiform, 86, 87, ff.

  Persians, 39

  Peters, J. P., excavations and discoveries by, 63, 161, 162,
    334, etc.

  Petrie, W. Flinders, 269, 332

  Phœnician characters, 21, 255, 312

  Picture-writing, 96-100

  Pigs, 14, 20

  Pinches, T., 139, 140, 261

  Pir-Hussein, 339

  Place, Victor, excavations and discoveries by, 41, 42, 153, 160,
    173, 279

  Planetary colours, 138

  “Plano-convex” bricks, 120

  Plans, 116

  Plants, 115

  Pliny, 59

  Plough, 16, 184, 280, 303, 304

  Polyandry, 364

  Polygamy, 364, 365

  Polytheism, 372

  Pomegranates, 12, 370

  Poplar, 12, 129

  Porcupines, 20, 24

  Pork, 19

  Porphyry, 326

  Porter, 90

  Potter’s wheel, 334

  Pottery, 84, 282, 333-6

  Prayers, 104

  Prestwich, 10

  Priests, 373, 388

  Prisms, 112, 113

  Pul. Cf. Tiglath-Pileser III

  Pyramids, 141

  Quartz, 287

  Quivers, 188, 195, 358

  Rabbit, 20

  Radau, 187, 408

  Radishes, 370, 390

  Rafts, 363

  Ram, 178, 396, 397

  Raphia, battle of, 37

  Rassam, H. H., excavations and discoveries by, 46-9, 54-6, 59,
    61, 258

  Raven, 26

  Rawlinson, G., 200, 222, 352, 353

  Rawlinson, Sir H., discoveries by, 18, 51, 90 f., 324

  Reeds, 13, 14

  Religion (early), 372-5;
    (Khammurabi period), 386-9;
    (Assyrian), 391-5

  Rent, 378

  Repoussé-work, 258, 259 ff.

  Rezin, k. of Damascus, 36

  Rich, C. J., discoveries by, 40, 59

  Rîm-Sin, 32, 101, 247, 248

  Ring and staff, 103, 198, 206

  Riparian obligations, 379

  Rivets, 252

  Rogers, R. W., 94, 408

  Roofs, Assyrian, 153, 154

  Ropes, 206, 214, 281

  Rosettes, 14, 78, 202, 233, 260, 274, 279, 315, 357

  Sacrifices, 244, 373

  Saddles, 353

  Sagittarius, 398

  Sammuramat, 233

  Samsu-iluna, 50, 68, 108, 110

  Sandals. Cf. Foot-wear

  Sandstone, 69, 70, 163, 325, 327

  Sanskrit, 90

  Sarcophagi, 74, 75, 180

  Sargon, 37, 53, 79, 112, 144, 151-4, 209, 212, 330

  Saws, 75, 242

  Sayce, A. H., 89, 94, 407, 408 _et passim_

  Sceptre, 197, 230

  Scheil, Père, 68, 364

  Scimitar, 254

  Schist, 287

  Schrader, 61

  Scorpion, 26

  Scorpion-man, 398

  Scourging, 385

  Scroll-design, 192, 315

  Sculpture, bas-reliefs (Assyrian), 201-22
    (Babylonian), 181-200

  Sculpture, in the round, 222-41

  Seals, 285, 286, 324

  Semiramis, 233, 273

  Semites, 5, 30

  Senkereh, 49; cf. also Larsa

  Sennacherib, 37, 38, 46, 47, 56, 78, 113, 213-17, 330, 397

  Serpents, 22, 23, 273, 296, 299, 329, 398

  Sesame, 11

  “Shadûf,” 369

  Shagshag, 373

  Shalmaneser I, 35, 78

  Shalmaneser II, 15, 36, 55, 81, 143, 207, 232, 259, 268

  Shalmaneser IV, 36, 37

  Shamash, 1, 60, 139, 205, 296, 396-7

  Shamash-Killâni, 116

  Shamash-shum-ukîn, 38, 73, 110

  Shamshi-Adad, 79, 143, 167

  Share-profit system, 378

  Shar-Gâni-Sharri, 5, 7, 8, 23, 67, 102, 117, 293

  Sharru-Gi, 30, 31

  Shatt el-Hai Canal, 224

  Shatt en-Nîl Canal, 133

  Sheaf, 398

  _Shêdi_, 238

  Sheep, 14, 17, 18, 115, 297, 366

  Shell, 72, 75, 76, 236, 250, 287, 341

  Sheol, 401

  Shields, 208, 211, 281, 360

  Shipping, 381

  Shualu, 401 f.

  Shutruk-Nakhunte, 194

  Sidon, 114

  Silver, 72, 73, 76, 150, 251, 264, 265, 267, 286

  Simmash-shipak, 205

  Simon, L., 61

  Sin, the Moon-god, 50, 306, 388, 391, 395, 396, 397

  Sin-eribam, 106

  Sin-Gamil, 101

  Sin-gashid, k. of Erech, 111

  Sin-idinnam, k. of Larsa, 107, 111

  Sin-ikisham, 106

  Sin-muballit, 101

  Sin-shar-ishkun, 81, 144, 145 ff.

  Sippar, 3, 29, 139;
    cf. also Abû Habba

  Ṣit-napishtim, 26, 404

  Skins, 203, 211, 363

  Slaves, 376

  Slings, 341

  Smith, George, excavations and discoveries by, 52-4, 128, 138

  Solomon, 316

  South-west wind, 262

  Spain, 334

  Sparrow and plough, 398

  Spasinus Chorax, 3

  Spearmen, Assyrian, 350-6

  Spears, 76, 193, 211, 219, 242

  Sphinxes, 312

  Squeezes, 90, 117

  Stag, 20

  Stage-tower. Cf. Ziggurat

  Stalagmite, 325, 326

  Standards, 193, 204, 244

  Star, 296, 302, 305, 395

  Statues, offerings to, 373

  Steatite, 197, 235, 252, 329

  Stone, uses of, 74, 75, 100, 101, 115, 126-9, 224, 245, 246, 325-31

  Stork, 26

  Storm-god, the. Cf. Adad

  Strabo, 127, 157, 158, 168

  Stucco, 278

  Stylus, 227

  Sumerians, 1, 2, 10, 29, 290, 291, 364, 372

  Sumu-abu, 32, 110

  Sumu-ilu, k. of Ur, 235

  Sumu-la-ilu, k. of Babylon, 110

  Sun-god, 111;
    cf. also Shamash

  “Sun-Tablet,” 164, 205

  Surgeons, 385

  Surghul, 61, 157

  Susa, 1, 2, 32, 38, 193, 199, 226, 262, 331, 334

  Swallow, 26

  Swan, 26

  Swimming, 203

  Swords, 212, 254, 350 f.

  Syenite, 287

  Syllabaries, 109

  Symbolism, 395

  “Synchronous History,” 111

  Syria (northern), 35, 36

  Table, 307

  Tablets, 103, 105, 286

  Talbot, 94

  Tamarisk, 130, 370

  Tarsus, 38

  Taylor, J. E., excavations and discoveries by, 50, 51, 120, 123,
    124, 133, 134, 156, 159, 163, 176, 200, 242, 263

  Tell el-Amarna letters, 108

  Tell el-Hesy.   Cf. Lachish

  Tellô (Lagash), 13, 56-8, 61, 84, 161, 187, 195, 224, 234, 248,
    301, 310

  Tell Sifr, 50

  Temples, Assyrian, 140-8;
    Babylonian, 132-40

  Temple-towers, 1;
    cf. also Ziggurats

  Terebinth, 13

  Terra-cotta, 321, 322, 324

  Te-Umman, k. of Elam, 114, 222

  Thebes, 38, 114

  Thistle, 14

  Thompson, R. C., excavations by, 84

  Thrones, 197, 216, 217, 235, 264

  Thunderbolt, 79, 395

  Thureau-Dangin, 364

  Tiâmat, 306

  Tibet, 18

  Tiglath-Pileser 1, 34, 35, 112, 142, 200, 267, 268

  Tiglath-Pileser II, 79

  Tiglath-Pileser III, 36, 43, 81, 111, 208, 268

  Tigris, 10

  Til-Garimum, 113

  Tin, 253, 255

  Tirhakah, k. of Egypt, 38, 114

  Toilet, 327, 347

  Tortoise, 20

  Trades, 366, 380

  Trees, 12, 280, 291, 306

  Trilingual inscriptions, 86

  Tubal, 113

  Tukulti-Ninib I, 21, 34, 72, 78, 79, 81, 179

  Tukulti-Ninib II, 35

  Tulips, 282

  Turbans, 228, 300, 302

  Turks, 12, 68

  Turnips, 390

  Turtle-doves, 367

  Tychsen, 86

  Tyre and Sidon, 363

  Umbrellas, 205

  Umma, 29, 30

  Ungnad, 19

  Untash-gal, k. of Elam, 262

  Ur, 6, 29, 30, 31, 133;
    cf. also Muḳeyyer

  Ur-Bau, 149, 227, 249

  Ur-Engur, 6, 31, 32, 50, 64, 67, 82, 133 f., 299

  Ur-Ninâ, 9, 30, 120, 130, 149, 186, 235, 244, 310

  Urukagina, 13, 27, 30, 326, 374

  Urumush, 30, 31, 328

  Urzage, 325

  Ushpia, 78

  Utug, 325

  Valle, Pietro della, 85

  Vases, 226, 229, 302, 398

  Vegetables, 373

  Vestments, 206

  Vetches, 14

  Vines, 13, 112, 217, 218, 221

  Votive figures, 244

  Vultures, 24, 25, 57, 187, 188 ff., 204, 290

  Wages, 380

  Ward, W. Hayes, 2, 15, 16, 63, 284, 285, 287, 292, 295, 298,
    304, 305, 341, 396-8

  Warka, excavations and discoveries at, 9, 49, 156, 163, 312

  Water-fowl, 334

  Weapons, 188, 202, 221, 252, 259, 340-4, 350-9

  Weavers, 365

  Westergaard, 91

  Wheat, 11

  Wilkinson, 369

  Windows, 160, 211

  “Window Inscription,” 85

  Wine. Cf. also Alcohol, 11

  Winged Being, 202, 286

  Winged Disc, 306

  Winged monsters, excavation and transport of, 43-5

  Witnesses, 384

  Wolves, 24

  Woman, 224, 225, 226, 229, 244, 245, 338, 340, 365, 366, 389

  Wood, 129-31

  Wood-carving, 236

  Wool, 337, 366 f., 390

  World, map of, Babylonian conception of, 116

  Wuswas façade, 157

  Xerxes, 86, 331

  Yôkha, 121

  Zabum, 72, 110

  Zamama, 398

  Zaquriu, 268

  Zarpanit, 73

  Zedekiah, 39

  Zend-Avesta, 86

  Ziggurats, 42, 142, 143, 148

  Zoroastrian faith, 86

[Illustration: BABYLONIA]

[Illustration: MESOPOTAMIA]

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