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Title: History of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 3 (of 12)
Author: Maspero, G. (Gaston)
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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HISTORY OF EGYPT CHALDEA, SYRIA, BABYLONIA, AND ASSYRIA


By G. MASPERO,
Honorable Doctor of Civil Laws, and Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford;
Member of the Institute and Professor at the College of France.

Edited by A. H. SAYCE,
Professor of Assyriology, Oxford.

Translated by M. L. McCLURE,
Member of the Committee of the Egypt Exploration Fund


CONTAINING OVER TWELVE HUNDRED COLORED PLATES AND ILLUSTRATIONS


Volume III.


LONDON

THE GROLIER SOCIETY

PUBLISHERS


[Illustration: 001.jpg El Hammam (The Bath)]


[Illustration: 002.jpg THE BANKS OF THE EUPHRATES AT IIILLAH]

     Drawn by Boudier, after J. Dieulafoy. The vignette, which is
     by Faucher-Gudin, is reproduced from an intaglio in the
     Cabinet des Medailles.



CHAPTER I--ANCIENT CHALDAEA


The Creation, the Deluge, the history of the gods--The country, its
cities its inhabitants, its early dynasties.

[Illustration: 002a.jpg]

“In the time when nothing which was called heaven existed above, and when
nothing below had as yet received the name of earth,* Apsu, the Ocean,
who first was their father, and Chaos-Tiamat, who gave birth to them
all, mingled their waters in one, reeds which were not united, rushes
which bore no fruit.” ** Life germinated slowly in this inert mass, in
which the elements of our world lay still in confusion: when at length
it did spring up, it was but feebly, and at rare intervals, through
the hatching of divine couples devoid of personality and almost without
form. “In the time when the gods were not created, not one as yet, when
they had neither been called by their names, nor had their destinies
been assigned to them by fate, gods manifested themselves. Lakhmu and
Lakhamu were the first to appear, and waxed great for ages; then Anshar
and Kishar were produced after them. Days were added to days, and years
were heaped upon years: Anu, Inlil, and Ea were born in their turn, for
Anshar and Kishar had given them birth.” As the generations emanated one
from the other, their vitality increased, and the personality of each
became more clearly defined; the last generation included none but
beings of an original character and clearly marked individuality. Anu,
the sunlit sky by day, the starlit firmament by night; Inlil-Bel,
the king of the earth; Ea, the sovereign of the waters and the
personification of wisdom.*** Each of them duplicated himself, Anu into
Anat, Bel into Belit, Ea into Damkina, and united himself to the spouse
whom he had deduced from himself. Other divinities sprang from these
fruitful pairs, and the impulse once given, the world was rapidly
peopled by their descendants. Sin, Shamash, and Kamman, who presided
respectively over the moon, the sun, and the air, were all three of
equal rank; next came the lords of the planets, Ninib, Merodach, Nergal,
the warrior-goddess Ishtar, and Nebo; then a whole army of lesser
deities, who ranged themselves around Anu as round a supreme master.
Tiamat, finding her domain becoming more and more restricted owing
to the activity of the others, desired to raise battalion against
battalion, and set herself to create unceasingly; but her offspring,
made in her own image, appeared like those incongruous phantoms which
men see in dreams, and which are made up of members borrowed from a
score of different animals. They appeared in the form of bulls with
human heads, of horses with the snouts of dogs, of dogs with quadruple
bodies springing from a single fish-like tail. Some of them had the beak
of an eagle or a hawk; others, four wings and two faces; others, the
legs and horns of a goat; others, again, the hind quarters of a horse
and the whole body of a man. Tiamat furnished them with terrible
weapons, placed them under the command of her husband Kingu, and set out
to war against the gods.

     * In Chaldaea, as in Egypt, nothing was supposed to have a
     real existence until it had received its name: the sentence
     quoted in the text means practically, that at that time
     there was neither heaven nor earth.

     ** Apsu has been transliterated kiracruv [in Greek], by the
     author an extract from whose works has been preserved by
     Damascius. He gives a different version of the tradition,
     according to which the amorphous goddess Mummu-Tiamat
     consisted of two persons. The first, Tauthe, was the wife of
     Apason; the second, Moymis, was the son of Apason and of
     Tauthe. The last part of the sentence is very obscure in the
     Assyrian text, and has been translated in a variety of
     different ways. It seems to contain a comparison between
     Apsu and Mummu-Tiamat on the one hand, and the reeds and
     clumps of rushes so common in Chaldaea on the other; the two
     divinities remain inert and unfruitful, like water-plants
     which have not yet manifested their exuberant growth.

     *** The first fragments of the Chaldaean account of the
     Creation were discovered by G. Smith, who described them in
     the _Daily Telegraph_ (of March 4, 1875), and published them
     in the _Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology_,
     and translated in his Chaldaean account of Genesis all the
     fragments with which he was acquainted; other fragments have
     since been collected, but unfortunately not enough to enable
     us to entirely reconstitute the legend. It covered at least
     six tablets, possibly more. Portions of it have been
     translated after Smith, by Talbot, by Oppert, by Lenormant,
     by Schrader, by Sayce, by Jensen, by Winckler, by Zimmern,
     and lastly by Delitzsch. Since G. Smith wrote _The Chaldaean
     Account_, a fragment of a different version has been
     considered to be a part of the dogma of the Creation, as it
     was put forth at Kutha.

[Illustration: 006.jpg ONE OF THE EAGLE-HEADED GENII.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from an Assyrian bas-relief from
     Khorsabad

At first they knew not whom to send against her. Anshar despatched his
son Anu; but Anu was afraid, and made no attempt to oppose her. He sent
Ea; but Ea, like Anu, grew pale with fear, and did not venture to attack
her. Merodach, the son of Ea, was the only one who believed himself
strong enough to conquer her. The gods, summoned to a solemn banquet in
the palace of Anshar, unanimously chose him to be their champion, and
proclaimed him king. “Thou, thou art glorious among the great gods, thy
will is second to none, thy bidding is Anu; Marduk (Merodach), thou art
glorious among the great gods, thy will is second to none,* thy bidding
is Anu.** From this day, that which thou orderest may not be changed,
the power to raise or to abase shall be in thy hand, the word of thy
mouth shall endure, and thy commandment shall not meet with opposition.
None of the gods shall transgress thy law; but wheresoever a sanctuary
of the gods is decorated, the place where they shall give their oracles
shall be thy place.*** Marduk, it is thou who art our avenger! We bestow
on thee the attributes of a king; the whole of all that exists, thou
hast it, and everywhere thy word shall be exalted. Thy weapons shall not
be turned aside, they shall strike thy enemy. O master, who trusts in
thee, spare thou, his life; but the god who hath done evil, put out
his life like water. They clad their champion in a garment, and thus
addressed him: ‘Thy will, master, shall be that of the gods. Speak the
word, ‘Let it be so,’ it shall be so. Thus open thy mouth, this garment
shall disappear; say unto it, ‘Return,’ and the garment shall be there.”
 He spoke with his lips, the garment disappeared; he said unto it,
“Return,” and the garment was restored.

     * The Assyrian runs, “thy destiny is second to none.” This
     refers not to the _destiny_ of the god himself, but to the
     fate which he allots to others. I have substituted, here and
     elsewhere, for the word “destiny,” the special meaning of
     which would not have been understood, the word “will,”
      which, though it does not exactly reproduce the Assyrian
     expression, avoids the necessity for paraphrases or formulas
     calculated to puzzle the modern reader.

     ** Or, to put it less concisely, “When thou commandest, it
     is Anu himself who commands,” and the same blind obedience
     must be paid to thee as to Anu.

     *** The meaning is uncertain. The sentence seems to convey
     that henceforth Merodach would be at home in all temples
     that were constructed in honour of the other gods.

Merodach having been once convinced by this evidence that he had the
power of doing everything and of undoing everything at his pleasure, the
gods handed to him the sceptre, the throne, the crown, the insignia of
supreme rule, and greeted him with their acclamations: “Be King!--Go!
Cut short the life of Tiamat, and let the wind carry her blood to the
hidden extremities of the universe.” * He equipped himself carefully for
the struggle. “He made a bow and placed his mark upon it;” ** he had a
spear brought to him and fitted a point to it; the god lifted the lance,
brandished it in his right hand, then hung the bow and quiver at
his side. He placed a thunderbolt before him, filled his body with a
devouring flame, then made a net in which to catch the anarchic Tiamat;
he placed the four winds in such a way that she could not escape, south
and north, east and west, and with his own hand he brought them the net,
the gift of his father Anu. “He created the hurricane, the evil wind, the
storm, the tempest, the four winds, the seven winds, the waterspout, the
wind that is second to none; then he let loose the winds he had created,
all seven of them, in order to bewilder the anarchic Tiamat by charging
behind her. And the master of the waterspout raised his mighty weapon,
he mounted his chariot, a work without its equal, formidable; he
installed himself therein, tied the four reins to the side, and darted
forth, pitiless, torrent-like, swift.”

     * Sayce was the first, I believe, to cite, in connection
     with this mysterious order, the passage in which Berossus
     tells how the gods created men from a little clay, moistened
     with the blood of the god Belos. Here there seems to be a
     fear lest the blood of Tiamat, mingling with the mud, should
     produce a crop of monsters similar to those which the
     goddess had already created; the blood, if carried to the
     north, into the domain of the night, would there lose its
     creative power, or the monsters who might spring from it
     would at any rate remain strangers to the world of gods and
     men.

     ** “Literally, he made his weapon known; “perhaps it would
     be better to interpret it, “and he made it known that the
     bow would henceforth be his distinctive weapon.”

[Illustration: 008.jpg BEL-MERODACH, ARMED WITH THE THUNDERBOLT, DOES
BATTLE WITH THE TUMULTUOUS TIAMAT.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from the bas-relief from Nimrud
     preserved in the British Museum.

He passed through the serried ranks of the monsters and penetrated as
far as Tiamat, and provoked her with his cries. “‘Thou hast rebelled
against the sovereignty of the gods, thou hast plotted evil against
them, and hast desired that my fathers should taste of thy malevolence;
therefore thy host shall be reduced to slavery, thy weapons shall be
torn from thee. Come, then, thou and I must give battle to one another!’
Tiamat, when she heard him, flew into a fury, she became mad with rage;
then Tiamat howled, she raised herself savagely to her full height, and
planted her feet firmly on the earth. She pronounced an incantation,
recited her formula, and called to her aid the gods of the combat,
both them and their weapons. They drew near one to another, Tiamat and
Marduk, wisest of the gods: They flung themselves into the combat, they
met one another in the struggle. Then the master unfolded his net and
seized her; he caused the hurricane which waited behind him to pass
in front of him, and, when Tiamat opened her mouth to swallow him, he
thrust the hurricane into it so that the monster could not close her
jaws again. The mighty wind filled her paunch, her breast swelled, her
maw was split. Marduk gave a straight thrust with his lance, burst
open the paunch, pierced the interior, tore the breast, then bound the
monster and deprived her of life. When he had vanquished Tiamat, who had
been their leader, her army was disbanded, her host was scattered, and
the gods, her allies, who had marched beside her, trembled, were scared,
and fled.” He seized hold of them, and of Kingu their chief, and brought
them bound in chains before the throne of his father.

He had saved the gods from ruin, but this was the least part of
his task; he had still to sweep out of space the huge carcase which
encumbered it, and to separate its ill-assorted elements, and arrange
them afresh for the benefit of the conquerors. He returned to Tiamat
whom he had bound in chains. He placed his foot upon her, with his
unerring knife he cut into the upper part of her; then he cut the
blood-vessels, and caused the blood to be carried by the north wind to
the hidden places. And the gods saw his face, they rejoiced, they gave
themselves up to gladness, and sent him a present, a tribute of peace;
then he recovered his calm, he contemplated the corpse, raised it and
wrought marvels.

[Illustration: 010.jpg A KUFA LADEN WITH STONES, AND MANNED BY A CREW OF
FOUR MEN.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief at Koyunjik.
     Behind the _kufa_ may be seen a fisherman seated astride on
     an inflated skin with his fish-basket attached to his neck.

He split it in two as one does a fish for drying; then he hung up one of
the halves on high, which became the heavens; the other half he spread
out under his feet to form the earth, and made the universe such as
men have since known it. As in Egypt, the world was a kind of enclosed
chamber balanced on the bosom of the eternal waters.* The earth, which
forms the lower part of it, or floor, is something like an overturned
boat in appearance, and hollow underneath, not like one of the narrow
skiffs in use among other races, but a kufa, or kind of semicircular
boat such as the tribes of the Lower Euphrates have made use of from
earliest antiquity down to our own times.

     * The description of the Egyptian world will be found in
     vol. i. p. 21 of the present work. So far the only
     systematic attempt to reconstruct the Chaldaean world, since
     Lenormant, has been made by Jensen, who, after examining all
     the elements which went to compose it, one after another,
     sums up in a few pages, and reproduces in a plate, the
     principal results of his inquiry. It will be seen at a
     glance how much I have taken from his work, and in what
     respects the drawing here reproduced differs from his.

[Illustration: 012.jpg THE WORLD AS CONCEIVED BY THE CHALDAEANS]

The earth rises gradually from the extremities to the centre, like a
great mountain, of which the snow-region, where the Euphrates finds its
source, approximately marks the summit. It was at first supposed to be
divided into seven zones, placed one on the top of the other along its
sides, like the stories of a temple; later on it was divided into four
“houses,” each of which, like the “houses” of Egypt, corresponded with
one of the four cardinal points, and was under the rule of particular
gods. Near the foot of the mountain, the edges of the so-called boat
curve abruptly outwards, and surround the earth with a continuous wall
of uniform height having no opening. The waters accumulated in the
hollow thus formed, as in a ditch; it was a narrow and mysterious sea,
an ocean stream, which no living man might cross save with permission
from on high, and whose waves rigorously separated the domain of men
from the regions reserved to the gods. The heavens rose above the
“mountain of the world” like a boldly formed dome, the circumference
of which rested on the top of the wall in the same way as the upper
structures of a house rest on its foundations. Merodach wrought it out
of a hard resisting metal which shone brilliantly during the day in
the rays of the sun, and at night appeared only as a dark blue surface,
strewn irregularly with luminous stars. He left it quite solid in the
southern regions, but tunnelled it in the north, by contriving within
it a huge cavern which communicated with external space by means of two
doors placed at the east and the west.* The sun came forth each morning
by the first of these doors; he mounted to the zenith, following the
internal base of the cupola from east to south; then he slowly descended
again to the western door, and re-entered the tunnel in the firmament,
where he spent the night,** Merodach regulated the course of the whole
universe on the movements of the sun. He instituted the year and divided
it into twelve months. To each month he assigned three decans, each of
whom exercised his influence successively for a period of ten days; he
then placed the procession of the days under the authority of Nibiru,
in order that none of them should wander from his track and be lost. “He
lighted the moon that she might rule the night, and made her a star of
night that she might indicate the days:*** ‘From month to month, without
ceasing, shape thy disk,**** and at the beginning of the month kindle
thyself in the evening, lighting up thy horns so as to make the heavens
distinguishable; on the seventh day, show to me thy disk; and on the
fifteenth, let thy two halves be full from month to month.’” He cleared
a path for the planets, and four of them he entrusted to four gods; the
fifth, our Jupiter, he reserved for himself, and appointed him to be
shepherd of this celestial flock; in order that all the gods might have
their image visible in the sky, he mapped out on the vault of heaven
groups of stars which he allotted to them, and which seemed to men like
representations of real or fabulous beings, fishes with the heads of
rams, lions, bulls, goats and scorpions.

     * Jensen has made a collection of the texts which speak of
     the interior of the heavens (Kirib shami) and of their
     aspect. The expressions which have induced many
     Assyriologists to conclude that the heavens were divided
     into different parts subject to different gods may be
     explained without necessarily having recourse to this
     hypothesis; the “heaven of Ami,” for instance, is an
     expression which merely affirms Anu’s sovereignty in the
     heavens, and is only a more elegant way of designating the
     heavens by the name of the god who rules them. The gates of
     heaven are mentioned in the account of the Creation.

     ** It is generally admitted that the Chaldaeans believed that
     the sun passed over the world in the daytime, and underneath
     it during the night. The general resemblance of their theory
     of the universe to the Egyptian theory leads me to believe
     that they, no less than the Egyptians (cf. vol. i. pp. 24,
     25, of the present work), for along time believed that the
     sun and moon revolved round the earth in a horizontal plane.

     *** This obscure phrase seems to be explained, if we
     remember that the Chaldaean, like the Egyptian day, dated
     from the rising of one moon to the rising of the following
     moon; for instance, from six o’clock one evening to about
     six o’clock the next evening. The moon, the star of night,
     thus marks the appearance of each day and “indicates the
     days.”

     **** The word here translated by “disk” is literally the
     royal cap, decorated with horns, “Agu,” which Sin, the moon-
     god, wears on his head.

The heavens having been put in order,* he set about peopling the earth,
and the gods, who had so far passively and perhaps powerlessly watched
him at his work, at length made up their minds to assist him. They
covered the soil with verdure, and all collectively “made living beings
of many kinds. The cattle of the fields, the wild beasts of the fields,
the reptiles of the fields, they fashioned them and made of them
creatures of life.” ** According to one legend, these first animals
had hardly left the hands of their creators, when, not being able to
withstand the glare of the light, they fell dead one after the other.
Then Merodach, seeing that the earth was again becoming desolate, and
that its fertility was of no use to any one, begged his father Ea to cut
off his head and mix clay with the blood which welled from the trunk,
then from this clay to fashion new beasts and men, to whom the virtues
of this divine blood would give the necessary strength to enable them
to resist the air and light. At first they led a somewhat wretched
existence, and “lived without rule after the manner of beasts. But,
in the first year, appeared a monster endowed with human reason named
Oannes, who rose from out of the Erythraean sea, at the point where it
borders Babylonia. He had the whole body of a fish, but above his fish’s
head he had another head which was that of a man, and human feet emerged
from beneath his fish’s tail; he had a human voice, and his image is
preserved to this day. He passed the day in the midst of men without
taking any food; he taught them the use of letters, sciences and arts of
all kinds, the rules for the founding of cities, and the construction of
temples, the principles of law and of surveying; he showed them how to
sow and reap; he gave them all that contributes to the comforts of life.
Since that time nothing excellent has been invented. At sunset this
monster Oannes plunged back into the sea, and remained all night beneath
the waves, for he was amphibious. He wrote a book on the origin of
things and of civilization, which he gave to men.” These are a few of
the fables which were current among the races of the Lower Euphrates
with regard to the first beginnings of the universe. That they possessed
many other legends of which we now know nothing is certain, but either
they have perished for ever, or the works in which they were recorded
still await discovery, it may be under the ruins of a palace or in the
cupboards of some museum.

* The arrangement of the heavens by Merodach is described at the end
of the fourth and beginning of the fifth tablets. The text, originally
somewhat obscure, is so mutilated in places that it is not always
possible to make out the sense with certainty.

** The creation of the animals and then of man is related on the seventh
tablet, and on a tablet the place of which, in the series, is still
undetermined. I have been obliged to translate the text rather freely,
so as to make the meaning clear to the modern reader.

[Illustration: 017.jpg A GOD-FISH]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian bas-relief from
     Nimrud.

They do not seem to have conceived the possibility of an absolute
creation, by means of which the gods, or one of them, should have
evolved out of nothing all that exists: the creation was for them merely
the setting in motion of pre-existing elements, and the creator only an
organizer of the various materials floating in chaos. Popular fancy
in different towns varied the names of the creators and the methods
employed by them; as centuries passed on, a pile of vague, confused, and
contradictory traditions were amassed, no one of which was held to be
quite satisfactory, though all found partisans to support them. Just as
in Egypt, the theologians of local priesthoods endeavoured to classify
them and bring them into a kind of harmony: many they rejected and
others they recast in order to better reconcile their statements: they
arranged them in systems, from which they undertook to unravel, under
inspiration from on high, the true history of the universe. That which I
have tried to set forth above is very ancient, if, as is said to be the
case, it was in existence two or even three thousand years before our
era; but the versions of it which we possess were drawn up much later,
perhaps not till about the VIIth century B.C.* It had been accepted by
the inhabitants of Babylon because it flattered their religious vanity
by attributing the credit of having evolved order out of chaos to
Merodach, the protector of their city.** He it was whom the Assyrian
scribes had raised to a position of honour at the court of the last
kings of Nineveh:*** it was Merodach’s name which Berossus inscribed at
the beginning of his book, when he set about relating to the Greeks
the origin of the world according to the Chaldeans, and the dawn of
Babylonian civilization.

     * The question as to whether the text was originally written
     in Sumerian or in the Semitic tongue has frequently been
     discussed; the form in which we have it at present is not
     very old, and does not date much further back than the reign
     of Assurbanipal, if it is not even contemporary with that
     monarch. According to Sayce, the first version would date
     back beyond the XXth century, to the reign of Khammurabi;
     according to Jensen, beyond the XXXth century before our
     era.

     ** Sayce thinks that the myth originated at Eridu, on the
     shores of the Persian Gulf, and afterwards received its
     present form at Babylon, where the local schools of theology
     adapted it to the god Merodach.

     *** The tablets in which it is preserved for us come partly
     from the library of Assurbanipal at Nineveh, partly from
     that of the temple of Nebo at Borsippa; these latter are
     more recent than the others, and seem to have been written
     during the period of the Persian supremacy.

Like the Egyptian civilization, it had had its birth between the sea and
the dry land on a low, marshy, alluvial soil, flooded annually by the
rivers which traverse it, devastated at long intervals by tidal waves of
extraordinary violence. The Euphrates and the Tigris cannot be regarded
as mysterious streams like the Nile, whose source so long defied
exploration that people were tempted to place it beyond the regions
inhabited by man. The former rise in Armenia, on the slopes of the
Niphates, one of the chains of mountains which lie between the Black Sea
and Mesopotamia, and the only range which at certain points reaches the
line of eternal snow. At first they flow parallel to one another, the
Euphrates from east to west as far as Malatiyeh, the Tigris from the
west towards the east in the direction of Assyria. Beyond Malatiyeh, the
Euphrates bends abruptly to the south-west, and makes its way across the
Taurus as though desirous of reaching the Mediterranean by the shortest
route, but it soon alters its intention, and makes for the south-east
in search of the Persian Gulf. The Tigris runs in an oblique direction
towards the south from the point where the mountains open out, and
gradually approaches the Euphrates. Near Bagdad the two rivers are only
a few leagues apart. However, they do not yet blend their waters; after
proceeding side by side for some twenty or thirty miles, they again
separate and only finally; unite at a point some eighty leagues lower
down. At the beginning of our geological period their course was not
such a long one. The sea then penetrated as far as lat. 33 deg., and was
only arrested by the last undulations of the great plateau of secondary
formation, which descend from the mountain group of Armenia: the two
rivers entered the sea at a distance of about twenty leagues apart,
falling into a gulf bounded on the east by the last spurs of the
mountains of Iran, on the west by the sandy heights which border the
margin of the Arabian Desert.* They filled up this gulf with their
alluvial deposit, aided by the Adhem, the Diyaleh, the Kerkha, the
Karun, and other rivers, which at the end of long independent courses
became tributaries of the Tigris. The present beds of the two rivers,
connected by numerous canals, at length meet near the village of Kornah
and form one single river, the Shatt-el-Arab, which carries their waters
to the sea. The mud with which they are charged is deposited when it
reaches their mouth, and accumulates rapidly; it is said that the coast
advances about a mile every seventy years.** In its upper reaches the
Euphrates collects a number of small affluents, the most important of
which, the Kara-Su, has often been confounded with it. Near the middle
of its course, the Sadjur on the right bank carries into it the waters
of the Taurus and the Amanus, on the left bank the Balikh and the Khabur
contribute those of the Karadja-Dagh; from the mouth of the Khabur to
the sea the Euphrates receives no further affluent. The Tigris is fed on
the left by the Bitlis-Khai, the two Zabs, the Adhem, and the Diyaleh.
The Euphrates is navigable from Sumeisat, the Tigris from Mossul, both
of them almost as soon as they leave the mountains. They are subject
to annual floods, which occur when the winter snow melts on the higher
ranges of Armenia. The Tigris, which rises from the southern slope of
the Niphates and has the more direct course, is the first to overflow
its banks, which it does at the beginning of March, and reaches its
greatest height about the 10th or 12th of May. The Euphrates rises in
the middle of March, and does not attain its highest level till the
close of May. From June onwards it falls with increasing rapidity; by
September all the water which has not been absorbed by the soil has
returned to the river-bed. The inundation does not possess the same
importance for the regions covered by it, that the rise of the Nile
does for Egypt. In fact, it does more harm than good, and the river-side
population have always worked hard to protect themselves from it and to
keep it away from their lands rather than facilitate its access to
them; they regard it as a sort of necessary evil to which they resign
themselves, while trying to minimize its effects.***

     * This fact has been established by Ross and Lynch in two
     articles in the _Journal of the Royal Geographical Society_,
     vol. ix. pp. 446, 472. The Chaldaeans and Assyrians called
     the gulf into which the two rivers debouched, Nar Marratum,
     or “salt river,” a name which they extended to the Chaldaean
     Sea, i.e. to the whole Persian Gulf.

     ** Loftus estimated, about the middle of the last century,
     the progress of alluvial deposit at about one English mile
     in every seventy years; H. Rawlinson considers that the
     progress must have been more considerable in ancient times,
     and estimates it at an English mile in thirty years. Kiepert
     thinks, taking the above estimate as a basis, that in the
     sixth century before our era the fore-shore came from about
     ten to twelve German miles (47 to 56 English) higher up than
     the present fore-shore. G. Rawlinson estimates on his part
     that between the thirtieth and twentieth centuries B.C., a
     period in which he places the establishment of the first
     Chaldaean Empire, the fore-shore was more than 120 miles
     above the mouth of Shatt-el-Arab, to the north of the
     present village of Kornah.

     *** Fr. Lenormant has energetically defended this hypothesis
     in the majority of his works: it is set forth at some length
     in his work on _La Langue primitive de la Chaldee_. Hommel,
     on the other hand, maintains and strives to demonstrate
     scientifically the relationship of the non-Semitic tongue
     with Turkish.

The traveller Olivier noticed this, and writes as follows: “The land
there is rather less fertile [than in Egypt], because it does not
receive the alluvial deposits of the rivers with the same regularity as
that of the Delta. It is necessary to irrigate it in order to render it
productive, and to protect it sedulously from the inundations which are
too destructive in their action and too irregular.”

The first races to colonize this country of rivers, or at any rate
the first of which we can find traces, seem to have belonged to three
different types. The most important were the Semites, who spoke a
dialect akin to Aramaic, Hebrew, and Phoenician. It was for a long
time supposed that they came down from the north, and traces of their
occupation have been pointed out in Armenia in the vicinity of Ararat,
or halfway down the course of the Tigris, at the foot of the Gordysean
mountains. It has recently been suggested that we ought rather to seek
for their place of origin in Southern Arabia, and this view is gaining
ground among the learned. Side by side with these Semites, the monuments
give evidence of a race of ill-defined character, which some have
sought, without much success, to connect with the tribes of the Urall or
Altai; these people are for the present provisionally called Sumerians.*
They came, it would appear, from some northern country; they brought
with them from their original home a curious system of writing, which,
modified, transformed, and adopted by ten different nations, has
preserved for us all that we know in regard to the majority of the
empires which rose and fell in Western Asia before the Persian conquest.
Semite or Sumerian, it is still doubtful which preceded the other at the
mouths of the Euphrates. The Sumerians, who were for a time all-powerful
in the centuries before the dawn of history, had already mingled closely
with the Semites when we first hear of them. Their language gave way to
the Semitic, and tended gradually to become a language of ceremony and
ritual, which was at last learnt less for everyday use, than for the
drawing up of certain royal inscriptions, or for the interpretation of
very ancient texts of a legal or sacred character. Their religion became
assimilated to the religion, and their gods identified with the gods, of
the Semites. The process of fusion commenced at such an early date, that
nothing has really come down to us from the time when the two races were
strangers to each other. We are, therefore, unable to say with certainty
how much each borrowed from the other, what each gave, or relinquished
of its individual instincts and customs. We must take and judge them as
they come before us, as forming one single nation, imbued with the
same ideas, influenced in all their acts by the same civilization, and
possessed of such strongly marked characteristics that only in the last
days of their existence do we find any appreciable change. In the course
of the ages they had to submit to the invasions and domination of some
dozen different races, of whom some--Assyrians and Chaldaeans--were
descended from a Semitic stock, while the others--Elamites, Cossaaans,
Persians, Macedonians, and Parthians--either were not connected with
them by any tie of blood, or traced their origin in some distant manner
to the Sumerian branch. They got quickly rid of a portion of these
superfluous elements, and absorbed or assimilated the rest; like
the Egyptians, they seem to have been one of those races which, once
established, were incapable of ever undergoing modification, and
remained unchanged from one end of their existence to the other.

* The name _Accadian_ proposed by H. Rawlinson and by Hincks, and
adopted by Sayce, seems to have given way to _Sumerian_, the title put
forward by Oppert. The existence of the Sumerian or Sumero-Accadian
has been contested by Halevy in a number of noteworthy works. M. Halevy
wishes to recognize in the so-called Sumerian documents the Semitic
tongue of the ordinary inscriptions, but written in a priestly syllabic
character subject to certain rules; this would be practically a
_cryptogram_, or rather an _allogram_. M. Halevy won over Messrs. Guyard
and Pognon in France, Delitzsch and a part of the Delitzsch school
in Germany, to his view of the facts. The controversy, which has been
carried on on both sides with a somewhat unnecessary vehemence, still
rages; it has been simplified quite recently by Delitzcsh’s return to
the Sumerian theory. Without reviewing the arguments in detail, and
while doing full justice to the profound learning displayed by M.
Halevy, I feel forced to declare with Tiele that his criticisms “oblige
scholars to carefully reconsider all that has been taken as proved in
these matters, but that they do not warrant us in rejecting as untenable
the hypothesis, still a very probable one, according to which the
difference in the graphic systems corresponds to a real difference in.
idiom.”

Their country must have presented at the beginning very much the same
aspect of disorder and neglect which it offers to modern eyes. It was
a flat interminable moorland stretching away to the horizon, there to
begin again seemingly more limitless than ever, with, no rise or fall in
the ground to break the dull monotony; clumps of palm trees and slender
mimosas, intersected by lines of water gleaming in the distance, then
long patches of wormwood and mallow, endless vistas of burnt-up plain,
more palms and more mimosas, make up the picture of the land, whose
uniform soil consists of rich, stiff, heavy clay, split up by the heat
of the sun into a network of deep narrow fissures, from which the
shrubs and wild herbs shoot forth each year in spring-time. By an almost
imperceptible slope it falls gently away from north to south towards
the Persian Gulf, from east to west towards the Arabian plateau. The
Euphrates flows through it with unstable and changing course, between
shifting banks which it shapes and re-shapes from season to season.

[Illustration: 025.jpg GIGANTIC CHALDAEAN REEDS]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian bas-relief of the
     palace of Nimrud.

The slightest impulse of its current encroaches on them, breaks through
them, and makes openings for streamlets, the majority of which are
clogged up and obliterated by the washing away of their margins, almost
as rapidly as they are formed. Others grow wider and longer, and,
sending out branches, are transformed into permanent canals or regular
rivers, navigable at certain seasons. They meet on the left bank
detached offshoots of the Tigris, and after wandering capriciously in
the space between the two rivers, at last rejoin their parent stream:
such are the Shatt-el-Hai and the Shatt-en-Nil. The overflowing waters
on the right bank, owing to the fall of the land, run towards the
low limestone hills which shut in the basin of the Euphrates in the
direction of the desert; they are arrested at the foot of these hills,
and are diverted on to the low-lying ground, where they lose themselves
in the morasses, or hollow out a series of lakes along its borders,
the largest of which, Bahr-i-Nedjif, is shut in on three sides by steep
cliffs, and rises or falls periodically with the floods. A broad canal,
which takes its origin in the direction of Hit at the beginning of the
alluvial plain, bears with it the overflow, and, skirting the lowest
terraces of the Arabian chain, runs almost parallel to the Euphrates. In
proportion as the canal proceeds southward the ground sinks still lower,
and becomes saturated with the overflowing waters, until, the banks
gradually disappearing, the whole neighbourhood is converted into a
morass. The Euphrates and its branches do not at all times succeed in
reaching the sea: they are lost for the most part in vast lagoons to
which the tide comes up, and in its ebb bears their waters away with
it. Reeds grow there luxuriantly in enormous beds, and reach sometimes
a height of from thirteen to sixteen feet; banks of black and putrid mud
emerge amidst the green growth, and give off deadly emanations. Winter
is scarcely felt here: snow is unknown, hoar-frost is rarely seen,
but sometimes in the morning a thin film of ice covers the marshes, to
disappear under the first rays of the sun.*

     * Loftus attributes the lowering of the temperature during
     the winter to the wind blowing over a soil impregnated with
     saltpetre. “We were,” he says, “in a kind of immense
     freezing chamber.”

[Illustration: 027.jpg THE MARSHES ABOUT THE CONFLUENCE OF THE KERKHA
AND TIGRIS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by J. Dieulafoy.
For six weeks in November and December there is much rain: after this
period there are only occasional showers, occurring at longer and longer
intervals until May, when they entirely cease, and the summer sets in,
to last until the following November. There are almost six continuous
months of depressing and moist heat, which overcomes both men and
animals and makes them incapable of any constant effort.* Sometimes
a south or east wind suddenly arises, and bearing with it across the
fields and canals whirlwinds of sand, burns up in its passage the little
verdure which the sun had spared. Swarms of locusts follow in its train,
and complete the work of devastation. A sound as of distant rain is at
first heard, increasing in intensity as the creatures approach. Soon
their thickly concentrated battalions fill the heavens on all sides,
flying with slow and uniform motion at a great height. They at length
alight, cover everything, devour everything, and, propagating their
species, die within a few days: nothing, not a blade of vegetation,
remains on the region where they alighted.

     * Loftus says that he himself had witnessed in the
     neighbourhood of Bagdad during the daytime birds perched on
     the palm trees in an exhausted condition, and panting with
     open beaks. The inhabitants of Bagdad during the summer pass
     their nights on the housetops, and the hours of day in
     passages within, expressly constructed to protect them from
     the heat.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, the country was not lacking in
resources. The soil was almost as fertile as the loam of Egypt, and,
like the latter, rewarded a hundredfold the labour of the inhabitants.*
Among the wild herbage which spreads over the country in the spring,
and clothes it for a brief season with flowers, it was found that some
plants, with a little culture, could be rendered useful to men and
beasts. There were ten or twelve different species of pulse to choose
from--beans, ‘lentils, chick-peas, vetches, kidney beans, onions,
cucumbers, egg-plants, “gombo,” and pumpkins. From the seed of the
sesame an oil was expressed which served for food, while the castor-oil
plant furnished that required for lighting. The safflower and henna
supplied the women with dyes for the stuffs which they manufactured from
hemp and flax. Aquatic plants were more numerous than on the banks
of the Nile, but they did not occupy such an important place among
food-stuffs. The “lily bread” of the Pharaohs would have seemed meagre
fare to people accustomed from early times to wheaten bread. Wheat and
barley are considered to be indigenous on the plains of the Euphrates;
it was supposed to be here that they were first cultivated in Western
Asia, and that they spread from hence to Syria, Egypt, and the whole
of Europe.** “The soil there is so favourable to the growth of cereals,
that it yields usually two hundredfold, and in places of exceptional
fertility three hundredfold. The leaves of the wheat and barley have a
width of four digits. As for the millet and sesame, which in altitude
are as great as trees, I will not state their height, although I know
it from experience, being convinced that those who have not lived in
Babylonia would regard my statement with incredulity.” Herodotus in his
enthusiasm exaggerated the matter, or perhaps, as a general rule, he
selected as examples the exceptional instances which had been mentioned
to him: at present wheat and barley give a yield to the husbandman of
some thirty or forty fold.

     * Olivier, who was a physician and naturalist, and had
     visited Egypt as well as Mesopotamia, thought that Babylonia
     was somewhat less fertile than Egypt. Loftus, who was
     neither, and had not visited Egypt, declares, on the
     contrary, that the banks of the Euphrates are no less
     productive than those of the Nile.

     ** Native traditions collected by Berossus confirm this, and
     the testimony of Olivier is usually cited as falling in with
     that of the Chaldaean writer. Olivier is considered, indeed,
     to have discovered wild cereals in Mesopotamia. Pie only
     says, however, that on the banks of the Euphrates above Anah
     he had met with “wheat, barley, and spelt in a kind of
     ravine;” from the context it clearly follows that these were
     plants which had reverted to a wild state--instances of
     which have been observed several times in Mesopotamia. A. de
     Oandolle admitted the Mesopotamian origin of the various
     species of wheat and barley.

[Illustration: 030.jpg THE GATHERING OF THE SPATHES OF THE MALE PALM
TREE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a cylinder in the Museum at the
     Hague. The original measures almost an inch in height.

“The date palm meets all the other needs of the population; they make
from it a kind of bread, wine, vinegar, honey, cakes, and numerous kinds
of stuffs; the smiths use the stones of its fruit for charcoal; these
same stones, broken and macerated, are given as a fattening food to
cattle and sheep.” Such a useful tree was tended with a loving care,
the vicissitudes in its growth were observed, and its reproduction was
facilitated by the process of shaking the flowers of the male palm over
those of the female: the gods themselves had taught this artifice to
men, and they were frequently represented with a bunch of flowers in
their right hand, in the attitude assumed by a peasant in fertilizing
a palm tree. Fruit trees were everywhere mingled with ornamental
trees--the fig, apple, almond, walnut, apricot, pistachio, vine, with
the plane tree, cypress, tamarisk, and acacia; in the prosperous period
of the country the plain of the Euphrates was a great orchard which
extended uninterruptedly from the plateau of Mesopotamia to the shores
of the Persian Gulf.

The flora would not have been so abundant if the fauna had been
sufficient for the supply of a large population. A considerable
proportion of the tribes on the Lower Euphrates lived for a long time
on fish only. They consumed them either fresh, salted, or smoked: they
dried them in the sun, crushed them in a mortar, strained the pulp
through linen, and worked it up into a kind of bread or into cakes. The
barbel and carp attained a great size in these sluggish waters, and if
the Chalaeans, like the Arabs who have succeeded them in these regions,
clearly preferred these fish above others, they did not despise at the
same time such less delicate species as the eel, murena, silurus, and
even that singular gurnard whose habits are an object of wonder to our
naturalists. This fish spends its existence usually in the water, but
a life in the open air has no terrors for it: it leaps out on the bank,
climbs trees without much difficulty, finds a congenial habitat on the
banks of mud exposed by the falling tide, and basks there in the sun,
prepared to vanish in the ooze in the twinkling of an eye if some
approaching bird should catch sight of it. Pelicans, herons, cranes,
storks, cormorants, hundreds of varieties of seagulls, ducks, swans,
wild geese, secure in the possession of an inexhaustible supply of food,
sport and prosper among the reeds. The ostrich, greater bustard, the
common and red-legged partridge and quail, find their habitat on the
borders of the desert; while the thrush, blackbird, ortolan, pigeon,
and turtle-dove abound on every side, in spite of daily onslaughts from
eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey.

[Illustration: 032.jpg A WINGED GENIUS HOLDING IN HIS HAND THE SPATHE OF
THE MALE DATE-PALM.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief from Nimrud, in
     the British Museum.

[Illustration: 033.jpg THE HEAVILY MANED LION WOUNDED BY AN ARROW AND
VOMITING BLOOD.]

Snakes are found here and there, but they are for the most part of
innocuous species: three poisonous varieties only are known, and their
bite does not produce such terrible consequences as that of the horned
viper or Egyptian uraeus. There are two kinds of lion--one without mane,
and the other hooded, with a heavy mass of black and tangled hair: the
proper signification of the old Chaldaean name was “the great ‘dog,” and
they have, indeed, a greater resemblance to large dogs than to the
red lions of Africa.* They fly at the approach of man; they betake
themselves in the daytime to retreats among the marshes or in the
thickets which border the rivers, sallying forth at night, like
the jackal, to scour the country. Driven to bay, they turn upon the
assailant and fight desperately. The Chaldaean kings, like the Pharaohs,
did not shrink from entering into a close conflict with them,
and boasted of having rendered a service to their subjects by the
destruction of many of these beasts.

* The Sumerian name of the lion is ur-malch “the great dog.” The best
description of the first-mentioned species is still that of Olivier, who
saw in the house oL the Pasha of Bagdad five of them in captivity; cf.
Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, p. 487. Father Scheil tells me the lions
have disappeared completely since the last twenty years.

[Illustration: 034.jpg THE URUS IN ACT OF CHARGING]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian bas-relief from
     Nimrud (Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 1st series, pi. 11).

[Illustration: 035.jpg a herd of onagers pursued by dogs and wounded by
arrows.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief in the British
     Museum.

The elephant seems to have roamed for some time over the steppes of
the middle Euphrates;* there is no indication of its presence after the
XIIIth century before our era, and from that time forward it was merely
an object of curiosity brought at great expense from distant countries.
This is not the only instance of animals which have disappeared in
the course of centuries; the rulers of Nineveh were so addicted to the
pursuit of the urus that they ended by exterminating it. Several sorts
of panthers and smaller felidae had their lairs in the thickets of
Mesopotamia. The wild ass and onager roamed in small herds between the
Balikh and the Tigris. Attempts were made, it would seem, at a very
early period to tame them and make use of them to draw chariots; but
this attempt either did not succeed at all, or issued in such uncertain
results, that it was given up as soon as other less refractory animals
were made the subjects of successful experiment.

     * The existence of the elephant in Mesopotamia and Northern
     Syria is well established by the Egyptian inscription of
     Amenemhabi in the XVth century before our era.

[Illustration: 036.jpg THE CHIEF DOMESTIC ANIMALS OP THE REGIONS OF THE
EUPHRATES.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian bas-relief from
     Kouyunjik.

The wild boar, and his relative, the domestic hog, inhabited the
morasses. Assyrian sculptors amused themselves sometimes by representing
long gaunt sows making their way through the cane-brakes, followed by
their interminable offspring. The hog remained here, as in Egypt, in
a semi-tamed condition, and the people were possessed of only a small
number of domesticated animals besides the dog--namely, the ass, ox,
goat, and sheep; the horse and camel were at first unknown, and were
introduced at a later period.*

[Illustration: 037.jpg THE SOW AND HER LITTER MAKING THEIR WAY THROUGH A
BED OF REEDS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief from Kouyunjik.

     * The horse is denoted in the Assyrian texts by a group of
     signs which mean “the ass of the East,” and the camel by
     other signs in which the character for “ass” also appears.
     The methods of rendering these two names show that the
     subjects of them were unknown in the earliest times; the
     epoch of their introduction is uncertain. A chariot drawn by
     horses appears on the “Stele of the Vultures.” Camels are
     mentioned among the booty obtained from the Bedouin of the
     desert.

We know nothing of the efforts which the first inhabitants--Sumerians
and Semites--had to make in order to control the waters and to bring the
land under culture: the most ancient monuments exhibit them as already
possessors of the soil, and in a forward state of civilization.* Their
chief cities were divided into two groups: one in the south, in the
neighbourhood of the sea; the other in a northern direction, in the
region where the Euphrates and Tigris are separated from each other by
merely a narrow strip of land. The southern group consisted of seven, of
which Eridu lay nearest to the coast. This town stood on the left bank
of the Euphrates, at a point which is now called Abu-Shahrein. A little
to the west, on the opposite bank, but at some distance from the stream,
the mound of Mugheir marks the site of Uru, the most important, if not
the oldest, of the southern cities. Lagash occupied the site of the
modern Telloh to the north of Eridu, not far from the Shatt-el-Hai;
Nisin and Mar, Larsam and Uruk, occupied positions at short distances
from each other on the marshy ground which extends between the Euphrates
and the Shatt-en-Nil. The inscriptions mention here and there other
less important places, of which the ruins have not yet been
discovered--Zirlab and Shurippak, places of embarkation at the mouth
of the Euphrates for the passage of the Persian Gulf; and the island of
Dilmun, situated some forty leagues to the south in the centre of the
Salt Sea,--“Nar-Marratum.” The northern group comprised Nipur, the
“incomparable;” Barsip, on the branch which flows parallel to the
Euphrates and falls into the Bahr-i-Nedjif; Babylon, the “gate of the
god,” the “residence of life,” the only metropolis of the Euphrates
region of which posterity never lost a reminiscence; Kishu, Kuta,
Agade;** and lastly the two Sipparas, that of Shamash and that of
Anunit. The earliest Chaldaean civilization was confined almost entirely
to the two banks of the Lower Euphrates: except at its northern
boundary, it did not reach the Tigris, and did not cross this river.
Separated from the rest of the world--on the east by the marshes which
border the river in its lower course, on the north by the badly watered
and sparsely inhabited table-land of Mesopotamia, on the west by the
Arabian desert--it was able to develop its civilization, as Egypt had
done, in an isolated area, and to follow out its destiny in peace. The
only point from which it might anticipate serious danger was on the
east, whence the Kashshi and the Elamites, organized into military
states, incessantly harassed it year after year by their attacks. The
Kashshi were scarcely better than half-civilized mountain hordes, but
the Elamites were advanced in civilization, and their capital, Susa,
vied with the richest cities of the Euphrates, Uru and Babylon, in
antiquity and magnificence.

     * For an ideal picture of what may have been the beginnings
     of that civilization, see Delitzsch, Die Entstehung des
     altesten Schriflssystems, p. 214, et seq. I will not enter
     into the question as to whether it did or did not come by
     sea to the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris. The legend of
     the fish-god Oannes (Berossus, frag. 1), which seems to
     conceal some indication on the subject, is merely a
     mythological tradition, from which it would be wrong to
     deduce historical conclusions.

     ** Agade, or Agane, has been identified with one of the two
     towns of which Sippara is made up, more especially with that
     which was called Anunit Sippara; the reading Agadi, Agacle,
     was especially assumed to lead to its identification with
     the Accad of _Genesis x. 10_, and with the Akkad of native
     tradition. This opinion has been generally abandoned by
     Assyriologists, and Agane has not yet found a site. Was it
     only a name for Babylon?

[Illustration: 040.jpg MAP OF CHALDAEA]

There was nothing serious to fear from the Guti, on the branch of the
Tigris to the north-east, or from the Shuti to the north of these; they
were merely marauding tribes, and, however troublesome they might be
to their neighbours in their devastating incursions, they could not
compromise the existence of the country, or bring it into subjection.
It would appear that the Chaldseans had already begun to encroach upon
these tribes and to establish colonies among them--El-Ashshur on the
banks of the Tigris, Harran on the furthest point of the Mesopotamian
plain, towards the sources of the Balikh. Beyond these were vague and
unknown regions--Tidanum, Martu, the sea of the setting sun, the vast
territories of Milukhkha and Magan.* Egypt, from the time they were
acquainted with its existence, was a semi-fabulous country at the ends
of the earth.

     * The question concerning Milukhkha and Magan has exercised
     Assyriologists for twenty years. The prevailing opinion
     appears to be that which identifies Magan with the Sinaitic
     Peninsula, and Milukhkha with the country to the north of
     Magan as far as the Wady Arish and the Mediterranean; others
     maintain, not the theory of Delitzsch, according to whom
     Magan and Milukhkha are synonyms for Shumir and Akkad, and
     consequently two of the great divisions of Babylonia, but an
     analogous hypothesis, in which they are regarded as
     districts to the west of the Euphrates, either in Chaldaean
     regions or on the margin of the desert, or even in the
     desert itself towards the Sinaitic Peninsula. What we know
     of the texts induces me, in common with H. Rawlinson, to
     place these countries on the shores of the Persian Gulf,
     between the mouth of the Euphrates and the Bahrein islands;
     possibly the Makse and the Melangitso of classical
     historians and geographers were the descendants of the
     people of Magan (Makan) and Milukhkha (Melugga), who had
     been driven towards the entrance to the Persian Gulf by some
     such event as the increase in these regions of the Kashdi
     (Chaldaeans). The names, emigrated to the western parts of
     Arabia and to the Sinaitic Peninsula in after-times, as the
     name of India passed to America in the XVIth century of our
     era.

How long did it take to bring this people out of savagery, and to
build up so many flourishing cities? The learned did not readily resign
themselves to a confession of ignorance on the subject. As they
had depicted the primordial chaos, the birth of the gods, and their
struggles over the creation, so they related unhesitatingly everything
which had happened since the creation of mankind, and they laid claim to
being able to calculate the number of centuries which lay between their
own day and the origin of things. The tradition to which most credence
was attached in the Greek period at Babylon, that which has been
preserved for us in the histories of Berossue, asserts that there was
a somewhat long interval between the manifestation of Oannes and
the foundation of a dynasty. The first king was Aloros of Babylon, a
Chaldaean of whom nothing is related except that he was chosen by the
divinity himself to be a shepherd of the people. He reigned for ten
sari, amounting in all to 36,000 years; for the saros is 3600 years, the
ner 600 years, and the soss 60 years.

[Illustration: 041.jpg TWO FISH-LIKE DEITIES OF THE CHALDAEANS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an intaglio in the British Museum.

After the death of Aloros, his son Alaparos ruled for three sari, after
which Amillaros, of the city of Pantibibla, reigned thirteen sari. It
was under him that there issued from the Bed Sea a second Annedotos,
resembling Oannes in his semi-divine shape, half man and half fish.
After him Ammenon, also from Pantibibla, a Chaldaean, ruled for a term
of twelve sari; under him, they say, the mysterious Oannes appeared.
Afterwards Amelagaros of Pantibibla governed for eighteen sari; then
Davos, the shepherd from Pantibibla, reigned ten sari: under him there
issued from the Red Sea a fourth Annedotos, who had a form similar to
the others, being made up of man and fish. After him Bvedoranchos of
Pantibibla reigned for eighteen sari; in his time there issued yet
another monster, named Anodaphos, from the sea. These various monsters
developed carefully and in detail that which Oannes had set forth in a
brief way. Then Amempsinos of Larancha, a Chalaean, reigned ten sari; and
Obartes, also a Chaldaean, of Larancha, eight sari. Finally, on the death
of Obartes, his son Xisuthros held the sceptre for eighteen sari. It
was under him that the great deluge took place. Thus ten kings are to
be reckoned in all, and the duration of their combined reigns amounts
to one hundred and twenty sari. From the beginning of the world to the
Deluge they reckoned 691,200 years, of which 259,200 had passed
before the coming of Aloros, and the remaining 432,000 were generously
distributed between this prince and his immediate successors: the Greek
and Latin writers had certainly a fine occasion for amusement over these
fabulous numbers of years which the Chaldaeans assigned to the lives and
reigns of their first kings.

Men in the mean time became wicked; they lost the habit of offering
sacrifices to the gods, and the gods, justly indignant at this
negligence, resolved to be avenged.* Now, Shamashnapishtim I was
reigning at this time in Shurippak, the “town of the ship:” he and
all his family were saved, and he related afterwards to one of his
descendants how Ea had snatched him from the disaster which fell upon
his people.** “Shurippak, the city which thou thyself knowest, is
situated on the bank of the Euphrates; it was already an ancient town
when the hearts of the gods who resided in it impelled them to bring the
deluge upon it--the great gods as many as they are; their father Anu,
their counsellor Bel the warrior, their throne-bearer Ninib, their
prince Innugi. The master of wisdom, Ea, took his seat with them,***
and, moved with pity, was anxious to warn Shamashnapishtim, his servant,
of the peril which threatened him;” but it was a very serious affair to
betray to a mortal a secret of heaven, and as he did not venture to do
so in a direct manner, his inventive mind suggested to him an artifice.

     * The account of Bcrossus implies this as a cause of the
     Deluge, since he mentions the injunction imposed upon the
     survivors by a mysterious voice to be henceforward
     respectful towards the gods, [Greek word]. The Chalaean
     account considers the Deluge to have been sent as a
     punishment upon men for their sins against the gods, since
     it represents towards the end (cf. p. 52 of this History) Ea
     as reproaching Bel for having confounded the innocent and
     the guilty in one punishment.

     ** The name of this individual has been read in various
     ways: Shamashnapishtim, “sun of life,” Sitnapishtim, “the
     saved,” and Pirnapishtim. In one passage at least we find,
     in place of Shamashnapishtim, the name or epithet of
     Aclrakhasis, or by inversion Khasisadra, which appears to
     signify “the very shrewd,” and is explained by the skill
     with which he interpreted the oracle of Ea. Khasisadra is
     most probably the form which the Greeks have transcribed by
     Xisuthros, Sisuthros, Sisithes.

     *** The account of the Deluge covers the eleventh tablet of
     the poem of Gilgames. The hero, threatened with death,
     proceeds to rejoin his ancestor Shamashnapishtim to demand
     from him the secret of immortality, and the latter tells him
     the manner in which he escaped from the waters: he had saved
     his life only at the expense of the destruction of men. The
     text of it was published by Smith and by Haupt, fragment by
     fragment, and then restored consecutively. The studies of
     which it is the object would make a complete library. The
     principal translations are those of Smith, of Oppert, of
     Lenor-mant, of Haupt, of Jensen, of A. Jeremias, of
     Sauveplane, and of Zimmern.

[Illustration: 045.jpg Page with ONE OF THE TABLETS OF THE DELUGE
SERIES.]

     Facsimile by Faucher-Gudin, from the photograph published by
     G. Smith, Chaldaean Account of the Deluge from terra-cotta
     tablets found at Nineveh.

He confided to a hedge of reeds the resolution that had been adopted:*
“Hedge, hedge, wall, wall! Hearken, hedge, and understand well, wall!
Man of Shurippak, son of Ubaratutu, construct a wooden house, build a
ship, abandon thy goods, seek life; throw away thy possessions, save thy
life, and place in the vessel all the seed of life. The ship which thou
shalt build, let its proportions be exactly measured, let its dimensions
and shape be well arranged, then launch it in the sea.” Shamashnapishtim
heard the address to the field of reeds, or perhaps the reeds repeated
it to him. “I understood it, and I said to my master Ea ‘The command,
O my master, which thou hast thus enunciated, I myself will respect it,
and I will execute it: but what shall I say to the town, the people and
the elders?’” Ea opened his mouth and spake; he said to his servant:
“Answer thus and say to them: ‘Because Bel hates me, I will no longer
dwell in your town, and upon the land of Bel I will no longer lay my
head, but I will go upon the sea, and will dwell with Ea my master. Now
Bel will make rain to fall upon you, upon the swarm of birds and the
multitude of fishes, upon all the animals of the field, and upon all
the crops; but Ea will give you a sign: the god who rules the rain will
cause to fall upon you, on a certain evening, an abundant rain. When the
dawn of the next day appears, the deluge will begin, which will cover
the earth and drown all living things.’” Shamashnapishtim repeated the
warning to the people, but the people refused to believe it, and turned
him into ridicule. The work went rapidly forward: the hull was a hundred
and forty cubits long, the deck one hundred and forty broad; all the
joints were caulked with pitch and bitumen. A solemn festival was
observed at its completion, and the embarkation began.** “All that I
possessed I filled the ship with it all that I had of silver, I filled
it with it; all that I had of gold I filled it with it, all that I had
of the seed of life of every kind I filled it with it; I caused all
my family and my servants to go up into it; beasts of the field, wild
beasts of the field, I caused them to go up all together. Shamash had
given me a sign: ‘When the god who rules the rain, in the evening shall
cause an abundant rain to fall, enter into the ship and close thy door.’
The sign was revealed: the god who rules the rain caused to fall one
night an abundant rain. The day, I feared its dawning; I feared to see
the daylight; I entered into the ship and I shut the door; that the ship
might be guided, I handed over to Buzur-Bel, the pilot, the great ark
and its fortunes.”

     * The sense of this passage is far from being certain; I
     have followed the interpretation proposed, with some
     variations, by Pinches, by Haupt, and by Jensen. The
     stratagem at once recalls the history of King Midas, and the
     talking reeds which knew the secret of his ass’s ears. In
     the version of Berossus, it is Kronos who plays the part
     here assigned to Ea in regard to Xisuthros.

     ** The text is mutilated, and does not furnish enough
     information to follow in every detail the building of the
     ark. From what we can understand, the vessel of
     Shamashnapishtim was a kind of immense kelek, decked, but
     without masts or rigging of any sort. The text identifies
     the festival celebrated by the hero before the embarkation
     with the festival Akitu of Merodach, at Babylon, during
     which “Nebo, the powerful son, sailed from Borsippa to
     Babylon in the bark of the river Asmu, of beauty.” The
     embarkation of Nebo and his voyage on the stream had
     probably inspired the information according to which the
     embarkation of Shamashnapishtim was made the occasion of a
     festival Akitu, celebrated at Shurippak; the time of the
     Babylonian festival was probably thought to coincide with
     the anniversary of the Deluge.

“As soon as the morning became clear, a black cloud arose from the
foundations of heaven. Bamman growled in its bosom; Nebo and Marduk
ran before it--ran like two throne-bearers over hill and dale. Nera
the Great tore up the stake to which the ark was moored. Ninib came up
quickly; he began the attack; the Anunnaki raised their torches and made
the earth to tremble at their brilliancy; the tempest of Ramman scaled
the heaven, changed all the light to darkness, flooded the earth like a
lake.* For a whole day the hurricane raged, and blew violently over the
mountains and over the country; the tempest rushed upon men like the
shock of an army, brother no longer beheld brother, men recognized each
other no more.

     * The progress of the tempest is described as the attack of
     the gods, who had resolved on the destruction of men. Ramman
     is the thunder which growls in the cloud; Nebo, Merodach,
     Nera the Great (Nergal), and Ninib, denote the different
     phases of the hurricane from the moment when the wind gets
     up until it is at its height; the Anunnaki represent the
     lightning which flashes carelessly across the heaven.

[Illustration: 048.jpg SHAMASHNAPISHTIM SHUT INTO THE ARK.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chalaean intaglio.

In heaven, the gods were afraid of the deluge;* they betook themselves
to flight, they clambered to the firmament of Anu; the gods, howling
like dogs, cowered upon the parapet.** Ishtar wailed like a woman
in travail; she cried out, “the lady of life, the goddess with the
beautiful voice: ‘The past returns to clay, because I have prophesied
evil before the gods! Prophesying evil before the gods, I have
counselled the attack to bring my men to nothing; and these to whom I
myself have given birth, where are they? Like the spawn of fish they
encumber the sea! ‘The gods wept with her over the affair of the
Anunnaki;’ the gods, in the place where they sat weeping, their lips
were closed.” It was not pity only which made their tears to flow:
there were mixed up with it feelings of regret and fears for the future.
Mankind once destroyed, who would then make the accustomed offerings?
The inconsiderate anger of Bel, while punishing the impiety of their
creatures, had inflicted injury upon themselves. “Six days and nights
the wind continued, the deluge and the tempest raged. The seventh day at
daybreak the storm abated; the deluge, which had carried on warfare like
an army, ceased, the sea became calm and the hurricane disappeared, the
deluge ceased. I surveyed the sea with my eyes, raising my voice; but
all mankind had returned to clay, neither fields nor woods could be
distinguished.*** I opened the hatchway and the light fell upon my face;
I sank down, I cowered, I wept, and my tears ran down my cheeks when I
beheld the world all terror and all sea. At the end of twelve days, a
point of land stood up from the waters, the ship touched the land of
Nisir:**** the mountain of Nisir stopped the ship and permitted it to
float no longer. One day, two days, the mountain of Nisir stopped the
ship and permitted it to float no longer.

     * The gods enumerated above alone took part in the drama of
     the Deluge: they were the confederates and emissaries of
     Bel. The others were present as spectators of the disaster,
     and were terrified.

     ** The upper part of the mountain wall is here referred to,
     upon which the heaven is supported. There was a narrow space
     between the escarpment and the place upon which the vault of
     the firmament rested: the Babylonian poet represented the
     gods as crowded like a pack of hounds upon this parapet, and
     beholding from it the outburst of the tempest and the
     waters.

     ***The translation is uncertain: the text refers to a legend
     which has not come down to us, in which Ishtar is related to
     have counselled the destruction of men.

     **** The Anunnaki represent here the evil genii whom the
     gods that produced the deluge had let loose, and whom
     Ramman, Nebo, Merodach, Nergal, and Ninib, all the followers
     of Bel, had led to the attack upon men: the other deities
     shared the fears and grief of Ishtar in regard to the
     ravages which these Anunnaki had brought about (cf. below,
     pp. 141-143 of this History).



Three days, four days, the mountain of Nisir* stopped the ship and
permitted it to float no longer. Five days, six days, the mountain of
Nisir stopped the ship and permitted it to float no longer. The seventh
day, at dawn, I took out a dove and let it go: the dove went, turned
about, and as there was no place to alight upon, came back. I took out a
swallow and let it go: the swallow went, turned about, and as there was
no place to alight upon, came back. I took out a raven and let it go:
the raven went, and saw that the water had abated, and came near the
ship flapping its wings, croaking, and returned no more.”
 Shamashnapishtim escaped from the deluge, but he did not know whether
the divine wrath was appeased, or what would be done with him when it
became known that he still lived.** He resolved to conciliate the
gods by expiatory ceremonies. “I sent forth the inhabitants of the ark
towards the four winds, I made an offering, I poured out a propitiatory
libation on the summit of the mountain. I set up seven and seven
vessels, and I placed there some sweet-smelling rushes, some cedar-wood,
and storax.” He thereupon re-entered the ship to await there the effect
of his sacrifice.

     * I have adopted, in the translation of this difficult
     passage, the meaning suggested by Haupt, according to which
     it ought to be translated, “The field makes nothing more
     than one with the mountain;” that is to say, “mountains and
     fields are no longer distinguishable one from another.” I
     have merely substituted for mountain the version wood, piece
     of land covered with trees, which Jensen has suggested.

     ** The mountain of Nisir is replaced in the version of
     Berossus by the Gordyaean mountains of classical geography; a
     passage of Assur-nazir-pal informs us that it was situated
     between the Tigris and the Great Zab, according to Delitzsch
     between 35 deg. and 36 deg. N. latitude. The Assyrian-speaking
     people interpreted the name as _Salvation_, and a play upon
     words probably decided the placing upon its slopes the
     locality where those _saved_ from the deluge landed on the
     abating of the waters. Fr. Lenormant proposes to identify it
     with the peak Rowandiz.

The gods, who no longer hoped for such a wind-fall, accepted the
sacrifice with a wondering joy. “The gods sniffed up the odour, the gods
sniffed up the excellent odour, the gods gathered like flies above the
offering. “When Ishtar, the mistress of life, came in her turn, she held
up the great amulet which Anu had made for her.” * She was still furious
against those who had determined upon the destruction of mankind,
especially against Bel: “These gods, I swear it on the necklace of my
neck! I will not forget them; these days I will remember, and will not
forget them for ever. Let the other gods come quickly to take part in
the offering. Bel shall have no part in the offering, for he was not
wise: but he has caused the deluge, and he has devoted my people to
destruction.” Bel himself had not recovered his temper: “When he arrived
in his turn and saw the ship, he remained immovable before it, and his
heart was filled with rage against the gods of heaven. ‘Who is he who
has come out of it living? No man must survive the destruction!’” The
gods had everything to fear from his anger: Ninib was eager to exculpate
himself, and to put the blame upon the right person. Ea did not disavow
his acts: “he opened his mouth and spake; he said to Bel the warrior:
‘Thou, the wisest among the gods, O warrior, why wert thou not wise, and
didst cause the deluge? The sinner, make him responsible for his sin;
the criminal, make him responsible for his crime: but be calm, and do
not cut off all; be patient, and do not drown all. What was the good of
causing the deluge? A lion had only to come to decimate the people.
What was the good of causing the deluge? A leopard had only to come to
decimate the people. What was the good of causing the deluge? Famine
had only to present itself to desolate the country. What was the good
of causing the deluge? Nera the Plague had only to come to destroy the
people. As for me, I did, not reveal the judgment of the gods: I caused
Khasisadra to dream a dream, and he became aware of the judgment of the
gods, and then he made his resolve.’” Bel was pacified at the words of
Ea: “he went up into the interior of the ship; he took hold of my hand
and made me go up, even me; he made my wife go up, and he pushed her to
my side; he turned our faces towards him, he placed himself between
us, and blessed us: ‘Up to this time Shamashnapishtim was a man:
henceforward let Shamashnapishtim and his wife be reverenced like us,
the gods, and let Shamashnapishtim dwell afar off, at the mouth of the
seas, and he carried us away and placed us afar off, at the mouth of the
seas.’” Another form of the legend relates that by an order of the god,
Xisuthros, before embarking, had buried in the town of Sippara all the
books in which his ancestors had set forth the sacred sciences--books
of oracles and omens, “in which were recorded the beginning, the middle,
and the end. When he had disappeared, those of his companions who
remained on board, seeing that he did not return, went out and set off
in search of him, calling him by name. He did not show himself to them,
but a voice from heaven enjoined upon them to be devout towards the
gods, to return to Babylon and dig up the books in order that they might
be handed down to future generations; the voice also informed them that
the country in which they were was Armenia. They offered sacrifice in
turn, they regained their country on foot, they dug up the books of
Sippara and wrote many more; afterwards they refounded Babylon.” It was
even maintained in the time of the Seleucido, that a portion of the ark
existed on one of the summits of the Gordyaean mountains.** Pilgrimages
were made to it, and the faithful scraped off the bitumen which covered
it, to make out of it amulets of sovereign virtue against evil spells.

[Illustration: 051.jpg THE JUDI MOUNTAINS SOMETIMES IDENTIFIED WITH TUB
NTSIB MOUNTAINS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by G. Smith, _Assyrian
     Discoveries_, p. 108.

     * We are ignorant of the object which the goddess lifted up:
     it may have been the sceptre surmounted by a radiating star,
     such as we see on certain cylinders. Several Assyriologists
     translate it arrows or lightning. Ishtar is, in fact, an
     armed goddess who throws the arrow or lightning made by her
     father Anu, the heaven.

     ** Bekossus, fragm. xv. The legend about the remains of the
     ark has passed into Jewish tradition concerning the Deluge.
     Nicholas of Damascus relates, like Berossus, that they were
     still to be seen on the top of Mount Baris. From that time
     they have been continuously seen, sometimes on one peak and
     sometimes on another. In the last century they were pointed
     out to Chardin, and the memory of them has not died out in
     our own century. Discoveries of charcoal and bitumen, such
     as those made at Gebel Judi, upon one of the mountains
     identified with Nisir, probably explain many of these local
     traditions.

The chronicle of these fabulous times placed, soon after the abating of
the waters, the foundation of a new dynasty, as extraordinary or almost
as extraordinary in character as that before the flood. According to
Berossus it was of Chaldaean origin, and comprised eighty-six kings, who
bore rule during 34,080 years; the first two, Evechous and Khomasbelos,
reigned 2400 and 2700 years, while the later reigns did not exceed
the ordinary limits of human life. An attempt was afterwards made to
harmonize them with probability: the number of kings was reduced to
six, and their combined reigns to 225 years. This attempt arose from
a misapprehension of their true character; names and deeds, everything
connected with them belongs to myth and fiction only, and is irreducible
to history proper. They supplied to priests and poets material for
scores of different stories, of which several have come down to us in
fragments. Some are short, and serve as preambles to prayers or magical
formulas; others are of some length, and may pass for real epics. The
gods intervene in them, and along with kings play an important part. It
is Nera, for instance, the lord of the plague, who declares war against
mankind in order to punish them for having despised the authority of
Anu. He makes Babylon to feel his wrath first: “The children of Babel,
they were as birds, and the bird-catcher, thou wert he! thou takest them
in the net, thou enclosest them, thou decimatest them--hero Nera!”
 One after the other he attacks the mother cities of the Euphrates and
obliges them to render homage to him--even Uruk, “the dwelling of Anu
and Ishtar--the town of the priestesses, of the _almehs_, and the sacred
courtesans; “then he turns upon the foreign nations and carries his
ravages as far as Phoenicia. In other fragments, the hero Etana makes an
attempt to raise himself to heaven, and the eagle, his companion, flies
away with him, without, however, being able to bring the enterprise to
a successful issue. Nimrod and his exploits are known to us from the
Bible.* “He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said,
Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of
his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of
Shinar.” Almost all the characteristics which are attributed by Hebrew
tradition to Nimrod we find in G-ilgames, King of Uruk and descendant of
the Shamashnapishtim who had witnessed the deluge.**

     * Genesis x. 9, 10. Among the Jews and Mussulmans a complete
     cycle of legends have developed around Nimrod. He built the
     Tower of Babel; he threw Abraham into a fiery furnace, and
     he tried to mount to heaven on the back of an eagle. Sayce
     and Grivel saw in Nimrod an heroic form of Merodach, the god
     of Babylonia: the majority of living Assyriologists prefer
     to follow Smith’s example, and identify him with the hero
     Gilgames.

     ** The name of this hero is composed of three signs, which
     Smith provisionally rendered Isdubar--a reading which,
     modified into Gishdhubar, Gistubar, is still retained by
     many Assyriologists. There have been proposed one after
     another the renderings Dhubar, Namrudu, Anamarutu, Numarad,
     Namrasit, all of which exhibit in the name of the hero that
     of Nimrod. Pinches discovered, in 1890, what appears to be
     the true signification of the three signs,Gilgamesh,
     Gilgames; Sayce and Oppert have compared this name with that
     of Gilgamos, a Babylonian hero, of whom. AElian has preserved
     the memory. A. Jeremias continued to reject both the reading
     and the identification.

Several copies of a poem, in which an unknown scribe had celebrated his
exploits, existed about the middle of the VIIth century before our era
in the Royal Library at Nineveh; they had been transcribed by order of
Assur-banipal from a more ancient copy, and the fragments of them which
have come down to us, in spite of their lacunae, enable us to restore
the original text, if not in its entirety, at least in regard to
the succession of events. They were divided into twelve episodes
corresponding with the twelve divisions of the year, and the ancient
Babylonian author was guided in his choice of these divisions by
something more than mere chance. Gilgames, at first an ordinary mortal
under the patronage of the gods, had himself become a god and son of the
goddess Aruru: “he had seen the abyss, he had learned everything that
is kept secret and hidden, he had even made known to men what had taken
place before the deluge.” The sun, who had protected him in his human
condition, had placed him beside himself on the judgment-seat, and
delegated to him authority to pronounce decisions from which there was
no appeal: he was, as it were, a sun on a small scale, before whom the
kings, princes, and great ones of the earth humbly bowed their heads.*
The scribes had, therefore, some authority for treating the events of
his life after the model of the year, and for expressing them in twelve
chants, which answered to the annual course of the sun through the
twelve months.

     * The identity of Gilgames with the Accadian fire-god, or
     rather with the sun, was recognized from the first by H.
     Rawlinson, and has been accepted since by almost all
     Assyriologists. A tablet brought back by G. Smith, called
     attention to by Fr. Delitzsch, and published by Haupt,
     contains the remains of a hymn addressed to Gilgames, “the
     powerful king, the king of the Spirits of the Earth.”

[Illustration: 057.jpg GILGAMES STRANGLES A LION.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian bas-relief from
     Khorsabad, in the Museum of the Louvre

The whole story is essentially an account of his struggles with Ishtar,
and the first pages reveal him as already at issue with the goddess. His
portrait, such as the monuments have preserved it for us, is singularly
unlike the ordinary type: one would be inclined to regard it as
representing an individual of a different race, a survival of some very
ancient nation which had held rule on the plains of the Euphrates before
the arrival of the Sumerian or Semitic* tribes.

     * Smith (The Chaldaean Account of Genesis, p. 194) remarked
     the difference between the representations of Gilgames and
     the typical Babylonian: he concluded from this that the hero
     was of Ethiopian origin. Hommel declares that his features
     have neither a Sumerian nor Semitic aspect, and that they
     raise an insoluble question in ethnology.

His figure is tall, broad, muscular to an astonishing degree, and
expresses at once vigour and activity; his head is massive, bony, almost
square, with a somewhat flattened face, a large nose, and prominent
cheek-bones, the whole framed by an abundance of hair, and a thick beard
symmetrically curled. All the young men of Uruk, the well-protected,
were captivated by the prodigious strength and beauty of the hero; the
elders of the city betook themselves to Ishtar to complain of the state
of neglect to which the young generation had relegated them. “He has no
longer a rival in their hearts, but thy subjects are led to battle, and
Gilgames does not send one child back to his father. Night and day they
cry after him: ‘It is he the shepherd of Uruk, the well-protected, he
is its shepherd and master, he the powerful, the perfect and the wise.’”
 Even the women did not escape the general enthusiasm: “he leaves not a
single virgin to her mother, a single daughter to a warrior, a single
wife to her master. Ishtar heard their complaint, the gods heard it, and
cried with a loud voice to Aruru: ‘It is thou, Aruru, who hast given him
birth; create for him now his fellow, that he may be able to meet him on
a day when it pleaseth him, in order that they may fight with each other
and Uruk may be delivered.’When Aruru heard them, she created in her
heart a man of Anu. Aruru washed her hands, took a bit of clay, cast it
upon the earth, kneaded it and created Babani, the warrior, the exalted
scion, the man of Ninib, whose whole body is covered with hair, whose
tresses are as long as those of a woman; the locks of his hair bristle
on his head like those on the corn-god; he is clad in a vestment
like that of the god of the fields; he browses with the gazelles, he
quenches his thirst with the beasts of the field, he sports with the
beasts of the waters.” Frequent representations of Eabani are found upon
the monuments; he has the horns of a goat, the legs and tail of a bull.*
He possessed not only the strength of a brute, but his intelligence also
embraced all things, the past and the future: he would probably have
triumphed over Gilgames if Shamash had not succeeded in attaching them
to one another by an indissoluble tie of friendship. The difficulty was
to draw these two future friends together, and to bring them face to
face without their coming to blows; the god sent his courier Saidu,
the hunter, to study the habits of the monster, and to find out the
necessary means to persuade him to come down peaceably to Uruk.
“Saidu, the hunter, proceeded to meet Eabani near the entrance of the
watering-place. One day, two days, three days, Eabani met him at the
entrance of the watering-place. He perceived Saidu, and his countenance
darkened: he entered the enclosure, he became sad, he groaned, he cried
with a loud voice, his heart was heavy, his features were distorted,
sobs burst from his breast. The hunter saw from a distance that his face
was inflamed with anger,” and judging it more prudent not to persevere
farther in his enterprise, returned to impart to the god what he had
observed.

     * Smith was the first, I believe, to compare his form to
     that of a satyr or faun; this comparison is rendered more
     probable by the fact that the modern inhabitants of Chaldaea
     believe in the existence of similar monsters. A. Jeremias
     places Eabani alongside Priapus, who is generally a god of
     the fields, and a clever soothsayer. Following out these
     ideas, we might compare our Eabani with the Graico-Roman
     Proteus, who pastures the flocks of the sea, and whom it was
     necessary to pursue and seize by force or cunning words to
     compel him to give oracular predictions.

[Illustration: 060.jpg GILGAMES FIGHTS, ON THE LEFT WITH A BULL, ON THE
RIGHT WITH EABANI.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio in the
     Museum at the Hague. The original measures about 1 7/10 inch
     in height.

“I was afraid,” said he, in finishing his narrative,* “and I did not
approach him. He had filled up the pit which I had dug to trap him, he
broke the nets which I had spread, he delivered from my hands the cattle
and the beasts of the field, he did not allow me to search the country
through.” Shamash thought that where the strongest man might fail by the
employment of force, a woman might possibly succeed by the attractions
of pleasure; he commanded Saidu to go quickly to Uruk and there to
choose from among the priestesses of Ishtar one of the most beautiful.**
The hunter presented himself before Grilgames, recounted to him his
adventures, and sought his permission to take away with him one of the
sacred courtesans. “‘Go, my hunter, take the priestess; when the beasts
come to the watering-place, let her display her beauty; he will see
her, he will approach her, and his beasts that troop around him will be
scattered.’”*** The hunter went, he took with him the priestess, he took
the straight road; the third day they arrived at the fatal plain. The
hunter and the priestess sat down to rest; one day, two days, they sat
at the entrance of the watering-place from whose waters Eabani drank
along with the animals, where he sported with the beasts of the water.

     * Haupt, Das Babylonische Nimrodepos, p. 9, 11. 42-50. The
     beginning of each line is destroyed, and the translation of
     the whole is only approximate.

     ** The priestesses of Ishtar were young and beautiful women,
     devoted to the service of the goddess and her worshippers.
     Besides the title _qadishtu,_ priestess, they bore various
     names, _kizireti, ukhati, kharimati_; the priestess who
     accompanied Saidu was an _ukhat_.

     *** As far as can be guessed from the narrative, interrupted
     as it is by so many lacunae, the power of Eabani over the
     beasts of the field seems to have depended on his
     continence. From the moment in which he yields to his
     passions the beasts fly from him as they would do from an
     ordinary mortal; there is then no other resource for him but
     to leave the solitudes to live among men in towns. This
     explains the means devised by Shamash against him: cf. in
     the _Arabian Nights_ the story of Shehabeddin.

“When Eabani arrived, he who dwells in the mountains, and who browses
upon the grass like the gazelles, who drinks with the animals, who
sports with the beasts of the water, the priestess saw the satyr.” She
was afraid and blushed, but the hunter recalled her to her duty. “It is
he, priestess. Undo thy garment, show him thy form, that he may be
taken with thy beauty; be not ashamed, but deprive him of his soul. He
perceives thee, he is rushing towards thee, arrange thy garment; he is
coming upon thee, receive him with every art of woman; his beasts
which troop around him will be scattered, and he will press thee to his
breast.” The priestess did as she was commanded; she received him with
every art of woman, and he pressed her to his breast. Six days and seven
nights, Eabani remained near the priestess, his well-beloved. When he
got tired of pleasure he turned his face towards his cattle, and he saw
that the gazelles had turned aside and that the beasts of the field had
fled far from him. Eabani was alarmed, he fell into a swoon, his knees
became stiff because his cattle had fled from him. While he lay as if
dead, he heard the voice of the priestess: he recovered his senses,
he came to himself full of love; he seated himself at the feet of the
priestess, he looked into her face, and while the priestess spoke his
ears listened. For it was to him the priestess spoke--to him, Eabani.
“Thou who art superb, Eabani, as a god, why dost thou live among
the beasts of the field? Come, I will conduct thee to Uruk the
well-protected, to the glorious house, the dwelling of Anu and
Ishtar--to the place where is Gilgames, whose strength is supreme, and
who, like a Urus, excels the heroes in strength.” While she thus spoke
to him, he hung upon her words, he the wise of heart, he realized
by anticipation a friend. Eabani said to the priestess: “Let us go,
priestess; lead me to the glorious and holy abode of Anu and Ishtar--to
the place where is Gilgames, whose strength is supreme, and who, like
a Urus, prevails over the heroes by his strength. I will fight with him
and manifest to him my power; I will send forth a panther against Uruk,
and he must struggle with it.” * The priestess conducted her prisoner
to Uruk, but the city at that moment was celebrating the festival of
Tammuz, and Gilgames did not care to interrupt the solemnities in order
to face the tasks to which Eabani had invited him: what was the use of
such trials since the gods themselves had deigned to point out to him in
a dream the line of conduct he was to pursue, and had taken up the
cause of their children. Shamash, in fact, began the instruction of the
monster, and sketched an alluring picture of the life which awaited him
if he would agree not to return to his mountain home. Not only would
the priestess belong to him for ever, having none other than him for
husband, but Gilgames would shower upon him riches and honours. “He will
give thee wherein to sleep a great bed cunningly wrought; he will seat
thee on his divan, he will give thee a place on his left hand, and
the princes of the earth shall kiss thy feet, the people of Uruk
shall grovel on the ground before thee.” It was by such flatteries
and promises for the future that Gilgames gained the affection of his
servant Eabani, whom he loved for ever.

     * I have softened down a good deal the account of the
     seduction, which is described with a sincerity and precision
     truly primitive.

Shamash had reasons for being urgent. Khumbaba, King of Elam, had
invaded the country of the Euphrates, destroyed the temples, and
substituted for the national worship the cult of foreign deities;* the
two heroes in concert could alone check his advance, and kill him. They
collected their troops, set out on the march, having learned from a
female magician that the enemy had concealed himself in a sacred grove.
They entered it in disguise, “and stopped in rapture for a moment before
the cedar trees; they contemplated the height of them, they contemplated
the thickness of them; the place where Khumbaba was accustomed to walk
up and down with rapid strides, alleys were made in it, paths kept up
with great care. They saw at length the hill of cedars, the abode of the
gods, the sanctuary of Irnini, and before the hill, a magnificent cedar,
and pleasant grateful shade.” They surprised Khumbaba at the moment when
he was about to take his outdoor exercise, cut off his head, and came
back in triumph to Uruk.** “Gilgames brightened his weapons, he polished
his weapons. He put aside his war-harness, he put on his white garments,
he adorned himself with the royal insignia, and bound on the diadem:
Gilgames put his tiara on his head, and bound on his diadem.”

     * Khumbaba contains the name of the Elamite god, Khumba,
     whichenters into the composition of names of towns, like Ti-
     Khumbi; or into those of princes, as Khumbanigash,
     Khumbasundasa, Khumbasidh. The comparison between Khumbaba
     and Combabos, the hero of a singular legend, current in the
     second century of our era, does not seem to be admissible,
     at least for the present. The names agree well in sound,
     but, as Oppert has rightly said, no event in the history of
     Combabos finds a counterpart in anything we know of that of
     Khumbaba up to the present.

     ** G. Smith places at this juncture Gilgames’s accession to
     the throne; this is not confirmed by the fragments of the
     text known up to the present, and it is not even certain
     that the poem relates anywhere the exaltation and coronation
     of the hero. It would appear even that Gilgames is
     recognized from the beginning as King of Uruk, the well-
     protected.

Ishtar saw him thus adorned, and the same passion consumed her which
inflames mortals.* “To the love of Gilgames she raised her eyes, the
mighty Ishtar, and she said, ‘Come, Gilgames, be my husband, thou! Thy
love, give it to me, as a gift to me, and thou shalt be my spouse, and
I shall be thy wife. I will place thee in a chariot of lapis and gold,
with golden wheels and mountings of onyx: thou shalt be drawn in it by
great lions, and thou shalt enter our house with the odorous incense of
cedar-wood. When thou shalt have entered our house, all the country by
the sea shall embrace thy feet, kings shall bow down before thee, the
nobles and the great ones, the gifts of the mountains and of the plain
they will bring to thee as tribute. Thy oxen shall prosper, thy sheep
shall be doubly fruitful, thy mules shall spontaneously come under the
yoke, thy chariot-horse shall be strong and shall galop, thy bull
under the yoke shall have no rival.’” Gilgames repels this unexpected
declaration with a mixed feeling of contempt and apprehension: he abuses
the goddess, and insolently questions her as to what has become of her
mortal husbands during her long divine life. “Tammuz, the spouse of thy
youth, thou hast condemned him to weep from year to year.** Nilala, the
spotted sparrow-hawk, thou lovedst him, afterward thou didst strike
him and break his wing: he continues in the wood and cries: ‘O, my
wings!’ *** Thou didst afterwards love a lion of mature strength, and
then didst cause him to be rent by blows, seven at a time.**** Thou
lovedst also a stallion magnificent in the battle; thou didst devote him
to death by the goad and whip: thou didst compel him to galop for ten
leagues, thou didst devote him to exhaustion and thirst, thou didst
devote to tears his mother Silili.

     * Ishtar’s declaration to Gilgames and the hero’s reply have
     been frequently translated and summarized since the
     discovery of the poem. Smith thought to connect this episode
     with the “Descent of Ishtar to Hades,” which we shall meet
     with further on in this History, but his opinion is no
     longer accepted. The “Descent of Ishtar” in its present
     condition is the beginning of a magical formula: it has
     nothing to do with the acts of Gilgames.

     ** Tammuz-Adonis is the only one known to us among this long
     list of the lovers of the goddess. The others must have been
     fairly celebrated among the Chaldaeans, since the few words
     devoted to each is sufficient to recall them to the memory
     of the reader, but we have not as yet found anything
     bearing upon their adventures in the table of the ancient
     Chaldaeo-Assyrian classics, which had been copied out by a
     Ninevite scribe for the use of Assur-bani-pal, the title of
     the poems is wanting.

     *** The text gives _kappi_, and the legend evidently refers
     to a bird whose cry resembles the word meaning “my
     wings.” The spotted sparrow-hawk utters a cry which may be
     strictly understood and interpreted in this way.

     **** This is evidently the origin of our fable of the
     “Amorous Lion.”

Thou didst also love the shepherd Tabulu, who lavished incessantly upon
thee the smoke of sacrifices, and daily slaughtered goats to thee; thou
didst strike him and turn him into a leopard; his own servants went in
pursuit of him, and his dogs followed his trail.* Thou didst love
Ishullanu, thy father’s gardener, who ceaselessly brought thee presents
of fruit, and decorated every day thy table. Thou raisedst thine eyes to
him, thou seizedst him: ‘My Ishullanu, we shall eat melons, then shalt
thou stretch forth thy hand and remove that which separates us.’
Ishullanu said to thee: ‘I, what dost thou require from me? O my mother,
prepare no food for me, I myself will not eat: anything I should eat
would be for me a misfortune and a curse, and my body would be stricken
by a mortal coldness.’ Then thou didst hear him and didst become angry,
thou didst strike him, thou didst transform him into a dwarf, thou didst
set him up on the middle of a couch; he could not rise up, he could not
get down from where he was. Thou lovest me now, afterwards thou wilt
strike me as thou didst these.” **

     * The changing of a lover, by the goddess or sorceress
     who loves him, into a beast, occurs pretty frequently in
     Oriental tales; as to the man changed by Ishtar into a
     brute, which she caused to be torn by his own hounds, we may
     compare the classic story of Artemis surprised at her bath
     by Actseon.

     ** As to the misfortune of Ishullanu, we may compare the
     story in the _Abrabian Nights_ of the Fisherman and the
     Genie shut up in the leaden bottle. The king of the Black
     Islands was transformed into a statue from the waist to the
     feet by the sorceress, whom he had married and afterwards
     offended; he remained lying on a bed, from which he could
     not get down, and the unfaithful one came daily to whip him.

“When Ishtar heard him, she fell into a fury, she ascended to heaven.
The mighty Ishtar presented herself before her father Anu, before her
mother Anatu she presented herself, and said: ‘My father, Grilgames
has despised me. Grilgames has enumerated my unfaithfulnesses, my
unfaithfulnesses and my ignominies.’ Anu opened his mouth and spake to
the mighty Ishtar: ‘Canst thou not remain quiet now that Gilgames
has enumerated to thee thy unfaithfulnesses, thy unfaithfulnesses and
ignominies?’” But she refused to allow the outrage to go unpunished.
She desired her father to make a celestial urus who would execute her
vengeance on the hero; and, as he hesitated, she threatened to destroy
every living thing in the entire universe by suspending the impulses of
desire, and the effect of love. Anu finally gives way to her rage: he
creates a frightful urus, whose ravages soon rendered uninhabitable the
neighbourhood of Uruk the well-protected. The two heroes, Gilgames and
Eabani, touched by the miseries and terror of the people, set out on the
chase, and hastened to rouse the beast from its lair on the banks of
the Euphrates in the marshes, to which it resorted after each murderous
onslaught.

[Illustration: 068.jpg GILGAMES AND EABANI FIGHTING WITH MONSTERS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio in the New
     York Museum. The original is about an inch and a half in
     height.

A troop of three hundred valiant warriors penetrated into the thickets
in three lines to drive the animal towards the heroes. The beast with
head lowered charged them; but Eabani seized it with one hand by the
right horn, and with the other by the tail, and forced it to rear.
Gilgames at the same instant, seizing it by the leg, plunged his dagger
into its heart. The beast being despatched, they celebrated their
victory by a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and poured out a libation to
Sharnash, whose protection had not failed them in this last danger.
Ishtar, her projects of vengeance having been defeated, “ascended the
ramparts of Uruk the well-protected. She sent forth a loud cry, she
hurled forth a malediction: ‘Cursed be Gilgames, who has insulted me,
and who has killed the celestial urus.’ Eabani heard these words of
Ishtar, he tore a limb from the celestial urus and threw it in the face
of the goddess: ‘Thou also I will conquer, and I will treat thee like
him: I will fasten the curse upon thy sides.’ Ishtar assembled her
priestesses, her female votaries, her frenzied women, and together they
intoned a dirge over the limb of the celestial urus. Gilgames assembled
all the turners in ivory, and the workmen were astonished at the
enormous size of the horns; they were worth thirty _mimae_ of lapis,
their diameter was a half-cubit, and both of them could contain six
measures of oil.” He dedicated them to Shamash, and suspended them on
the corners of the altar; then he washed his hands in the Euphrates,
re-entered Uruk, and passed through the streets in triumph. A riotous
banquet ended the day, but on that very night Eabani felt himself
haunted by an inexplicable and baleful dream, and fortune abandoned the
two heroes. Gilgames had cried in the intoxication of success to the
women of Uruk: “Who shines forth among the valiant? Who is glorious
above all men? Gilgames shines forth among the valiant, Gilgames is
glorious above all men.” Ishtar made him feel her vengeance in the
destruction of that beauty of which he was so proud; she covered him
with leprosy from head to foot, and made him an object of horror to his
friends of the previous day. A life of pain and a frightful death--he
alone could escape them who dared to go to the confines of the world in
quest of the Fountain of Youth and the Tree of Life which were said to
be there hidden; but the road was rough, unknown, beset by dangers, and
no one of those who had ventured upon it had ever returned. Gilgames
resolved to brave every peril rather than submit to his fate, and
proposed this fresh adventure to his friend Eabani, who, notwithstanding
his sad forebodings, consented to accompany him. They killed a tiger
on the way, but Eabani was mortally wounded in a struggle in which they
engaged in the neighbourhood of Nipur, and breathed his last after an
agony of twelve days’ duration.

“Gilgames wept bitterly over his friend Eabani, grovelling on the bare
earth.” The selfish fear of death struggled in his spirit with regret at
having lost so dear a companion, a tried friend in so many encounters.
“I do not wish to die like Eabani: sorrow has entered my heart, the fear
of death has taken possession of me, and I am overcome. But I will go
with rapid steps to the strong Shamashnapishtim, son of Ubaratutu,
to learn from him how to become immortal.” He leaves the plain of the
Euphrates, he plunges boldly into the desert, he loses himself for a
whole day amid frightful solitudes. “I reached at nightfall a ravine in
the mountain, I beheld lions and trembled, but I raised my face towards
the moon-god, and I prayed: my supplication ascended even to the father
of the gods, and he extended over me his protection.” A vision from on
high revealed to him the road he was to take. With axe and dagger
in hand, he reached the entrance of a dark passage leading into the
mountain of Mashu,* “whose gate is guarded day and night by supernatural
beings.”

     * The land of Mashu is the land to the west of the
     Euphrates, coterminous on one part with the northern regions
     of the Red Sea, on the other with the Persian Gulf; the name
     appears to be preserved in that of the classic Mesene, and
     possibly in the land of Massa of the Hebrews.

[Illustration: 071.jpg THE SCORPION-MEN OF THE MOUNTAINS OF MASHU.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian intaglio.

“The scorpion-men, of whom the stature extends upwards as far as the
supports of heaven, and of whom the breasts descend as low as Hades,
guard the door. The terror which they inspire strikes down like a
thunderbolt; their look kills, their splendour confounds and overturns
the mountains; they watch over the sun at his rising and setting.
Grilgames perceived them, and his features were distorted with fear and
horror; their savage appearance disturbed his mind. The scorpion-man
said to his wife: ‘He who comes towards us, his body is marked by the
gods.’* The scorpion-woman replied to him: ‘In his mind he is a god, in
his mortal covering he is a man.’ The scorpion-man spoke and said:
‘It is as the father of the gods, has commanded, he has travelled over
distant regions before joining us, thee and me.’” Gilgames learns
that the guardians are not evilly disposed towards him, and becomes
reassured, tell them his misfortunes and implores permission to pass
beyond them so as to reach “Sha-mashnapishtim, his father, who was
translated to the gods, and who has at his disposal both life and
death.” The scorpion-man in vain shows to him the perils before him, of
which the horrible darkness enveloping the Mashu mountains is not the
least: Gilgames proceeds through the depths of the darkness for long
hours, and afterwards comes out in the neighbourhood of a marvellous
forest upon the shore of the ocean which encircles the world. One tree
especially excites his wonder: “As soon as he sees it he runs towards
it. Its fruits are so many precious stones, its boughs are splendid
to look upon, for the branches are weighed down with lapis, and their
fruits are superb.” When his astonishment had calmed down, Gilgames
begins to grieve, and to curse the ocean which stays his steps. “Sabitu,
the virgin who is seated on the throne of the seas,” perceiving him
from a distance, retires at first to her castle, and barricades herself
within it. He calls out to her from the strand, implores and threatens
her in turn, adjures her to help him in his voyage. “If it can be done,
I will cross the sea; if it cannot be done, I will lay me down on the
land to die.” The goddess is at length touched by his tears. “Gilgames,
there has never been a passage hither, and no one from time immemorial
has been able to cross the sea. Shamash the valiant crossed the sea;
after Shamash, who can cross it? The crossing is troublesome, the way
difficult, perilous the Water of Death, which, like a bolt, is drawn
between thee and thy aim. Even if, Gilgames, thou didst cross the
sea, what wouldest thou do on arriving at the Water of Death?” Arad-Ea,
Shamashnapishtim’s mariner, can alone bring the enterprise to a happy
ending: “if it is possible, thou shalt cross the sea with him; if it is
not possible, thou shalt retrace thy steps.”

* We must not forget that Gilgames is covered with leprosy; this is the
disease with which the Chaldaean gods mark their enemies when they wish
to punish them in a severe fashion.

[Illustration: 073.jpg GILGAMES AND ARAD-EA NAVIGATING THEIR VESSEL.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio in the
     British Museum. The original measures a little over an inch.

Arad-Ea and the hero took ship: forty days’ tempestuous cruising brought
them to the Waters of Death, which with a supreme effort they passed.
Beyond these they rested on their oars and loosed their girdles: the
happy island rose up before them, and Shamashnapishtim stood upon the
shore, ready to answer the questions of his grandson.

None but a god dare enter his mysterious paradise: the bark bearing
an ordinary mortal must stop at some distance from the shore, and the
conversation is carried on from on board. Gilgames narrated once
more the story of his life, and makes known the object of his visit;
Shamashnapishtim answers him stoically that death follows from an
inexorable law, to which it is better to submit with a good grace.
“However long the time we shall build houses, however long the time we
shall put our seal to contracts, however long the time brothers shall
quarrel with each other, however long the time there shall be hostility
between kings, however long the time rivers shall overflow their banks,
we shall not be able to portray any image of death. When the spirits
salute a man at his birth, then the genii of the earth, the great gods,
Mamitu the moulder of destinies, all of them together assign a fate to
him, they determine for him his life and death; but the day of his death
remains unknown to him.” Gilgames thinks, doubtless, that his forefather
is amusing himself at his expense in preaching resignation, seeing that
he himself had been able to escape this destiny. “I look upon thee,
Shamashnapishtim, and thy appearance has not changed: thou art like me
and not different, thou art like me and I am like thee. Thou wouldest
be strong enough of heart to enter upon a combat, to judge by thy
appearance; tell me, then, how thou hast obtained this existence among
the gods to which thou hast aspired?” Shamashnapishtim yields to his
wish, if only to show him how abnormal his own case was, and indicate
the merits which had marked him out for a destiny superior to that of
the common herd of humanity. He describes the deluge to him, and relates
how he was able to escape from it by the favour of Ea, and how by that
of Bel he was made while living a member of the army of the gods. “‘And
now,’ he adds, ‘as far as thou art concerned, which one of the Gods will
bestow upon thee the strength to obtain the life which thou seekest?
Come, go to sleep!’ Six days and seven nights he is as a man whose
strength appears suspended, for sleep has fallen upon him like a blast
of wind. Shamashnapishtim spoke to his wife: ‘Behold this man who asks
for life, and upon whom sleep has fallen like a blast of wind.’ The wife
answers Shamashnapishtim, the man of distant lands: ‘Cast a spell upon
him, this man, and he will eat of the magic broth; and the road by which
he has come, he will retrace it in health of body; and the great gate
through which he has come forth, he will return by it to his country.’
Shamashnapishtim spoke to his wife: ‘The misfortunes of this man
distress thee: very well, cook the broth, and place it by his head.’
And while Gilgames still slept on board his vessel, the material for the
broth was gathered; on the second day it was picked, on the third it was
steeped, on the fourth Shamashnapishtim prepared his pot, on the fifth
he put into it ‘Senility,’ on the sixth the broth was cooked, on the
seventh he cast his spell suddenly on his man, and the latter consumed
the broth. Then Gilgames spoke to Shamashnapishtim, the inhabitant of
distant lands: ‘I hesitated, slumber laid hold of me; thou hast cast a
spell upon me, thou hast given me the broth.’” The effect would not have
been lasting, if other ceremonies had not followed in addition to this
spell from the sorcerer’s kitchen: Gilgames after this preparation could
now land upon the shore of the happy island and purify himself there.
Shamashnapishtim confided this business to his mariner Arad-Ea: “‘The
man whom thou hast brought, his body is covered with ulcers, the leprous
scabs have spoiled the beauty of his body. Take him, Arad-Ea, lead him
to the place of purification, let him wash his ulcers white as snow in
the water, let him get rid of his scabs, and let the sea bear them away
so that at length his body may appear healthy. He will then change
the fillet which binds his brows, and the loin-cloth which hides his
nakedness: until he returns to his country, until he reaches the end of
his journey, let him by no means put off the loin-cloth, however ragged;
then only shall he have always a clean one.’ Then Arad-Ea took him and
conducted him to the place of purification: he washed his ulcers white
as snow in the water, he got rid of his scabs, and the sea carried them
away, so that at length his body appeared healthy. He changed the fillet
which bound his brows, the loincloth which hid his nakedness: until
he should reach the end of his journey, he was not to put off the
loin-cloth, however ragged; then alone was he to have a clean one.” The
cure effected, Gilgames goes again on board his bark, and returns to the
place where Shamashnapishtim was awaiting him.

Shamashnapishtim would not send his descendant back to the land of the
living without making him a princely present. “His wife spoke to him,
to him Shamashnapishtim, the inhabitant of distant lands: ‘Gilgames has
come, he is comforted, he is cured; what wilt thou give to him, now that
he is about to return to his country?’ He took the oars, Gilgames, he
brought the bark near the shore, and Shamashnapishtim spoke to him, to
Gilgames: ‘Gilgames, thou art going from here comforted; what shall I
give thee, now that thou art about to return to thy country? I am about
to reveal to thee, Gilgames, a secret, and the judgment of the gods I am
about to tell it thee. There is a plant similar to the hawthorn in its
flower, and whose thorns prick like the viper. If thy hand can lay hold
of that plant without being torn, break from it a branch, and bear it
with thee; it will secure for thee an eternal youth.’Gilgames gathers
the branch, and in his joy plans with Arad-Ea future enterprises:
‘Arad-Ea, this plant is the plant of renovation, by which a man
obtains life; I will bear it with me to Uruk the well-protected, I will
cultivate a bush from it, I will cut some of it, and its name shall
be, “the old man becomes young by it;” I will eat of it, and I shall
repossess the vigour of my youth.’” He reckoned without the gods, whose
jealous minds will not allow men to participate in their privileges.
The first place on which they set foot on shore, “he perceived a well of
fresh water, went down to it, and whilst he was drawing water, a serpent
came out of it, and snatched from him the plant, yea--the serpent rushed
out and bore away the plant, and while escaping uttered a malediction.
That day Gilgames sat down, he wept, and his tears streamed down his
cheeks he said to the mariner Arad-Ba: ‘What is the use, Arad-Ea, of my
renewed strength; what is the use of my heart’s rejoicing in my return
to life? It is not myself I have served; it is this earthly lion I have
served. Hardly twenty leagues on the road, and he for himself alone has
already taken possession of the plant. As I opened the well, the plant
was lost to me, and the genius of the fountain took possession of it:
who am I that I should tear it from him?’” He re-embarks in sadness,
he re-enters Uruk the well-protected, and at length begins to think of
celebrating the funeral solemnities of Eabani, to whom he was not able
to show respect at the time of his death. He supervises them, fulfils
the rites, intones the final chant: “The temples, thou shalt enter them
no more; the white vestments, thou shalt no longer put them on; the
sweet-smelling ointments, thou shalt no longer anoint thyself with them
to envelop thee with their perfume. Thou shalt no longer press thy
bow to the ground to bend it, but those that the bow has wounded shall
surround thee; thou no longer holdest thy sceptre in thy hand, but
spectres fascinate thee; thou no longer adornest thy feet with wings,
thou no longer givest forth a sound upon the earth. Thy wife whom thou
lovedst thou embracest her no more; thy wife whom thou hatedst thou
beatest her no more. Thy daughter whom thou lovedst thou embracest her
no more; thy daughter whom thou hatedst, thou beatest her no more. The
resounding earth lies heavy upon thee, she who is dark, she who is
dark, Tjinazu the mother, she who is dark, whose side is-not veiled with
splendid vestments, whose bosom, like a new-born animal, is not covered.
Eabani has descended from the earth to Hades; it is not the messenger
of Nergal the implacable who has snatched him away, it is not the plague
which has carried him off, it is not consumption that has carried him
off, it is the earth which has carried him off; it is not the field of
battle which has carried him off, it is the earth which has carried him
off!” Gilgames dragged himself along from temple to temple, repeating
his complaint before Bel and before Sin, and at length threw himself
at the feet of the god of the Dead, Nergal: “‘Burst open the sepulchral
cavern, open the ground, that the spirit of Eabani may issue from the
soil like a blast of wind.’ As soon as Nergal the valiant heard him,
he burst open the sepulchral vault, he opened the earth, he caused the
spirit of Eabani to issue from the earth like a blast of wind.” Gilgames
interrogates him, and asks him with anxiety what the state of the dead
may be: “‘Tell, my friend, tell, my friend, open the earth and what thou
seest tell it.’--‘I cannot tell it thee, my friend, I cannot tell it
thee; if I should open the earth before thee, if I were to tell to thee
that which I have seen, terror would overthrow thee, thou wouldest faint
away, thou wouldest weep.’--‘Terror will overthrow me, I shall faint
away, I shall weep, but tell it to me.’” And the ghost depicts for him
the sorrows of the abode and the miseries of the shades. Those only
enjoy some happiness who have fallen with arms in their hands, and who
have been solemnly buried after the fight; the manes neglected by their
relatives succumb to hunger and thirst.* “On a sleeping couch he lies,
drinking pure water, he who has been killed in battle. ‘Thou hast seen
him?’--‘I have seen him; his father and his mother support his head, and
his wife bends over him wailing.’ ‘But he whose body remains forgotten
in the fields,--thou hast seen him?’--‘I have seen him; his soul has no
rest at all in the earth.’ ‘He whose soul no one cares for,--thou hast
seen him?’--‘I have seen him; the dregs of the cup, the remains of a
repast, that which is thrown among the refuse of the street, that is
what he has to nourish him.’” This poem did not proceed in its entirety,
or at one time, from the imagination of a single individual. Each
episode of it answers to some separate legend concerning Gilgames, or
the origin of Uruk the well-protected: the greater part preserves under
a later form an air of extreme antiquity, and, if the events dealt with
have not a precise bearing on the life of a king, they paint in a lively
way the vicissitudes of the life of the people.** These lions, leopards,
or gigantic uruses with which Grilgames and his faithful Eabani carry
on so fierce a warfare, are not, as is sometimes said, mythological
animals.

     * Cf. vol. i. pp. 160, 161 of this History for analogous
     ideas among the Egyptians as to the condition of the dead
     who were neglected by their relatives: the Egyptian double
     had to live on the same refuse as the Chaldaean soul.

     ** G. Smith, identifying Gilgames with Nimrod, believes, on
     the other hand, that Nimrod was a real king, who reigned in
     Mesopotamia about 2250 B.C.; the poem contains, according to
     him, episodes, more or less embellished, in the life of the
     sovereign.

Similar monsters, it was believed, appeared from time to time in the
marshes of Chaldaea, and gave proof of their existence to the inhabitants
of neighbouring villages by such ravages as real lions and tigers commit
in India or the Sahara. It was the duty of chiefs on the border lands of
the Euphrates, as on the banks of the Nile, as among all peoples still
sunk in semi-barbarism, to go forth to the attack of these beasts
single-handed, and to sacrifice themselves one after the other, until
one of them more fortunate or stronger than the rest should triumph
over these mischievous brutes. The kings of Babylon and Nineveh in later
times converted into a pleasure that which had been an official duty of
their early predecessors: Gilgames had not yet arrived at that stage,
and the seriousness, not to speak of the fear, with which he entered
on the fight with such beasts, is an evidence of the early date of the
portions of his history which are concerned with his hunting exploits.
The scenes are represented on the seals of princes who reigned prior to
the year 3000 B.C., and the work of the ancient engraver harmonizes so
perfectly with the description of the comparatively modern scribe that
it seems like an anticipated illustration of the latter; the engravings
represent so persistently and with so little variation the images of
the monsters, and those of Gilgames and his faithful Eabani, that the
corresponding episodes in the poem must have already existed as we know
them, if not in form, at least in their main drift. Other portions of
the poem are more recent, and it would seem that the expedition against
Khumbaba contains allusions to the Elamite* invasions from which Chaldaea
had suffered so much towards the XXth century before our era. The
traditions which we possess of the times following the Deluge, embody,
like the adventures of Gilganes, very ancient elements, which the
scribes or narrators wove together in a more or less skilful manner
around the name of some king or divinity.

     * Smith thought he could restore from the poem a part of
     Chaldaean history: he supposed Izdubar-Nimrod to have been,
     about 2250, the liberator of Babylon, oppressed by Elam, and
     the date of the foundation of a great Babylonian empire to
     have coincided with his victory over the Elamites. The
     annals of Assurbanipal show us, in fact, that an Elamite
     king, Kudurnankhundi, had pillaged Uruk about 2280 B.C., and
     had transported to Susa a statue of the goddess Ishtar.

[Illustration: 082.jpg GILGAMES STRUGGLES WITH A LION]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio in the
     British Museum. The original measures about 1 2/5 inch in
     height.

The fabulous chronicle of the cities of the Euphrates existed,
therefore, in a piecemeal condition--in the memory of the people or in
the books of the priests--before even their primitive history began;
the learned who collected it later on had only to select some of the
materials with which it furnished them, in order to form out of them a
connected narrative, in which the earliest ages were distinguished from
the most recent only in the assumption of more frequent and more direct
interpositions of the powers of heaven in the affairs of men. Every city
had naturally its own version, in which its own protecting deities, its
heroes and princes, played the most important parts. That of Babylon
threw all the rest into the shade; not that it was superior to them,
but because this city had speedily become strong enough to assert its
political supremacy over the whole region of the Euphrates. Its scribes
were accustomed to see their master treat the lords of other towns as
subjects or vassals. They fancied that this must have always been
the case, and that from its origin Babylon had been recognized as the
queen-city to which its contemporaries rendered homage. They made its
individual annals the framework for the history of the entire country,
and from the succession of its princely families on the throne, diverse
as they were in origin, they constructed a complete canon of the kings
of Chaldaea.

But the manner of grouping the names and of dividing the dynasties
varied according to the period in which the lists were drawn up, and at
the present time we are in possession of at least two systems which the
Babylonian historians attempted to construct. Berossus, who communicated
one of them to the Greeks about the beginning of the IInd century B.C.,
would not admit more than eight dynasties in the period of thirty-six
thousand years between the Deluge and the Persian invasion. The lists,
which he had copied from originals in the cuneiform character, have
suffered severely at the hands of his abbreviators, who omitted the
majority of the names which seemed to them very barbarous in form, while
those who copied these abbreviated lists have made such further havoc
with them that they are now for the most part unintelligible. Modern
criticism has frequently attempted to restore them, with varying
results; the reconstruction here given, which passes for the most
probable, is not equally certain in all its parts:--*

[Illustration: 084.jpg CHRONOLOGIC TABLE]

It was not without reason that Berossus and his authorities had put the
sum total of reigns at thirty-six thousand years; this number falls in
with a certain astrological period, during which the gods had granted to
the Chaldaeans glory, prosperity, and independence, and whose termination
coincided with the capture of Babylon by Cyrus.** Others before them had
employed the same artifice, but they reckoned ten dynasties in the place
of the eight accepted by Berossus:--

     * After the example of G. B. Niebuhr, Gutschmid admitted
     here, as Oppert did, 45 Assyrians; he based his view on
     Herodotus, in which it is said that the Assyrians held sway
     in Asia for 520 years, until its conquest by the Medes. Upon
     the improbability of this opinion, see Schrader’s
     demonstration.

     ** The existence of this astronomical or astrological scheme
     on which Berossus founded his chronology, was pointed out by
     Brandis, afterwards by Gutschmid; it is now generally
     accepted.

[Illustration: 085.jpg TABLE]

Attempts have been made to bring the two lists* into harmony, with
varying results; in my opinion, a waste of time and labour. For even
comparatively recent periods of their history, the Chaldaeans, like
the Egyptians, had to depend upon a collection of certain abbreviated,
incoherent, and often contradictory documents, from which they found it
difficult to make a choice: they could not, therefore, always come to an
agreement when they wished to determine how many dynasties had succeeded
each other during these doubtful epochs, how many kings were included in
each dynasty, and what length of reign was to be assigned to each king.
We do not know the motives which influenced Berossus in his preference
of one tradition over others; perhaps he had no choice in the matter,
and that of which he constituted himself the interpreter was the only
one which was then known. In any case, the tradition he followed forms a
system which we cannot, modify without misinterpreting the intention of
those who drew it up or who have handed it down to us. We must accept
or reject it just as it is, in its entirety and without alteration:
to attempt to adapt it to the testimony of the monuments would be
equivalent to the creation of a new system, and not to the correction
simply of the old one. The right course is to put it aside for the
moment, and confine ourselves to the original lists whose fragments have
come down to us: they do not furnish us, it is true, with a history of
Chaldaea such as it unfolded itself from age to age, but they teach us
what the later Chaldaeans knew, or thought they knew, of that history.
Still it is wise to treat them with some reserve, and not to forget that
if they agree with each other in the main, they differ frequently in
details. Thus the small dynasties, which are called the VIth and VIIth,
include the same number of kings on both the tablets which establish
their existence, but the number of years assigned to the names of
the kings and the total years of each dynasty vary a little from one
another:--

     * The first document having claim to the title of Royal
     Canon was found among the tablets of the British Museum, and
     was published by G. Smith. The others were successively
     discovered by Pinches; some erroneous readings in them have
     been corrected by Fr. Delitzsch, and an exact edition has
     been published by Knudtzon. Smith’s list is the fragment of
     a chronicle in which the VIth, VIIth, and VIIIth dynasties
     only are almost complete. One of Pinches’s lists consists
     merely of a number of royal names not arranged in any
     consistent order, and containing their non-Semitic as well
     as their Semitic forms. The other two lists are actual
     canons, giving the names of the kings and the years of their
     reigns; unfortunately they are much mutilated, and the
     lacunae in them cannot yet be filled up. All of them have
     been translated by Sayce.

[Illustration: 080.jpg TABLE]

[Illustration: 081.jpg TABLE]

Is the difference in the calculations the fault of the scribes, who,
in mechanically copying and recopying, ended by fatally altering the
figures? Or is it to be explained by some circumstance of which we are
ignorant--an association on the throne, of which the duration is at one
time neglected with regard to one of the co-regents, and at another time
with regard to the other; or was it owing to a question of legitimacy,
by which, according to the decision arrived at, a reign was prolonged or
abbreviated? Cotemporaneous monuments will some day, perhaps, enable
us to solve the problem which the later Chaldaeans did not succeed in
clearing up. While awaiting the means to restore a rigorously exact
chronology, we must be content with the approximate information
furnished by the tablets as to the succession of the Babylonian kings.

Actual history occupied but a small space in the lists--barely twenty
centuries out of a whole of three hundred and sixty: beyond the historic
period the imagination was given a free rein, and the few facts which
were known disappeared almost completely under the accumulation of
mythical narratives and popular stories. It was not that the documents
were entirely wanting, for the Chaldaeans took a great interest in their
past history, and made a diligent search for any memorials of it. Each
time they succeeded in disinterring an inscription from the ruins of a
town, they were accustomed to make-several copies of it, and to deposit
them among the archives, where they would be open to the examination
of their archaeologists.* When a prince undertook the rebuilding of
a temple, he always made excavations under the first courses of the
ancient structure in order to recover the documents which preserved the
memory of its foundation: if he discovered them, he recorded on the new
cylinders, in which he boasted of his own work, the name of the first
builder, and sometimes the number of years which had elapsed since its
erection.**

     * We have a considerable number of examples of copies of
     ancient texts made in this manner. For instance, the
     dedication of a temple at Uruk by King Singashid, copied by
     the scribe Nabubalatsuikbi, son of Mizirai (“the Egyptian
     “), for the temple of Ezida; the legendary history of King
     Sargon of Agade, copied from the inscription on the base of
     his statue, of which there will be further mention (pp. 91-
     93 of this History); a dedication of the King Khammurabi;
     the inscription of Agumkakrimi, which came from the library
     of Assurbanipal.

     ** Nabonidos, for instance, the last king of Babylon before
     the Persian conquest, has left us a memorial of his
     excavations. He found in this manner the cylinders of
     Shagashaltiburiash at Sippara, those of Khammurabi, and
     those of Naramsin.

We act in a similar way to-day, and our excavations, like those of the
Chaldaeans, end in singularly disconnected results: the materials which
the earth yields for the reconstruction of the first centuries consist
almost entirely of mutilated records of local dynasties, isolated
names of sovereigns, dedications of temples to gods, on sites no longer
identifiable, of whose nature we know nothing, and too brief allusions
to conquests or victories over vaguely designated nations.* The
population was dense and life active in the plains of the Lower
Euphrates. The cities in this region formed at their origin so many
individual and, for the most part, petty states, whose kings and patron
gods claimed to be independent of all the neighbouring kings and gods:
one city, one god, one lord--this was the rule here as in the ancient
feudal districts from which the nomes of Egypt arose. The strongest
of these principalities imposed its laws upon the weakest: formed into
unions of two or three under a single ruler, they came to constitute a
dozen kingdoms of almost equal strength on the banks of the Euphrates.
On the north we are acquainted with those of Agade, Babylon, Kuta,
Kharsag-Kalama, and that of Kishu, which comprised a part of Mesopotamia
and possibly the distant fortress of Harran: petty as these States were,
their rulers attempted to conceal their weakness by assuming such titles
as “Kings of the Four Houses of the World,” “Kings of the Universe,”
 “Kings of Shumir and Akkad.” Northern Babylonia seems to have possessed
a supremacy amongst them. We are probably wise in not giving too much
credit to the fragmentary tablet which assigns to it a dynasty of
kings, of which we have no confirmatory information from other
sources--Amilgula, Shamashnazir, Amilsin, and several others: this list,
however, places among these phantom rulers one individual at least,
Shargina-Sharrukin, who has left us material evidences of his existence.
This Sargon the Elder, whose complete name is Shargani-shar-ali, was
the son of a certain Ittibel, who does not appear to have been king.
At first his possessions were confined to the city of Agade and some
undetermined portions of the environs of Babylon, but he soon succeeded
in annexing Babylon itself, Sippara, Kishu, Uruk, Kuta, and Nipur: the
contemporary records attest his conquest of Elam, Guti, and even of the
far-off land of Syria, which was already known to him under the name of
Amuru. His activity as a builder was in no way behind his warlike zeal.
He built Ekur, the sanctuary of Bel in Nipur, and the great temple
Eulbar in Agade, in honour of Anunit, the goddess presiding over the
morning star. He erected in Babylon a palace which afterwards became a
royal burying-place. He founded a new capital, a city which he peopled
with families brought from Kishu and Babylon: for a long time after his
day it bore the name which he bestowed upon it, Dur-Sharrukin. This
sums up all the positive knowledge we have about him, and the later
Chaldseans seem not to have been much better informed than ourselves.

     * The earliest Assyriologists, H. Rawlinson, Oppert,
     considered the local kings as having been, for the most
     part, kings of all Chaldaea, and placed them in succession
     one after the other in the framework of the most ancient
     dynasties of Berossus. The merit of having established the
     existence of series of local dynasties, and of having given
     to Chaldaean history its modern form, belongs to G. Smith.
     Smith’s idea was adopted by Menant, by Delitzsch-Murdter, by
     Tiele, by Winckler, and by all Assyriologists, with
     modifications suggested by the progress of decipherment.

They filled up the lacunae of his history with legends. As he seemed
to them to have appeared suddenly on the scene, without any apparent
connection with the king who preceded him, they assumed that he was a
usurper of unknown origin, irregularly introduced by the favour of the
gods into the lawful series of kings. An inscription engraved, it was
said, on one of his statues, and afterwards, about the VIIth century
B.C., copied and deposited in the library of Nineveh, related at length
the circumstances of his mysterious birth. “Sharrukin, the mighty king,
the king of Agade, am I. My mother was a princess; my father, I did not
know him; the brother of my father lived in the mountains. My town was
Azupirani, which is situated on the bank of the Euphrates. My mother,
the princess, conceived me, and secretly gave birth to me: she placed
me in a basket of reeds, she shut up the mouth of it with bitumen, she
abandoned me to the river, which did not overwhelm me. The river bore
me; it brought me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of
water, received me in the goodness of his heart; Akki, the drawer of
water, made me a gardener. As gardener, the goddess Ishtar loved me, and
during forty-four years I held royal sway; I commanded the Black Heads,*
and ruled them.” This is no unusual origin for the founders of empires
and dynasties; witness the cases of Cyrus and Bomulus.* Sargon, like
Moses, and many other heroes of history or fable, is exposed to the
waters: he owes his safety to a poor fellah who works his shadouf on the
banks of the Euphrates to water the fields, and he passes his infancy in
obscurity, if not in misery. Having reached the age of manhood, Ishtar
falls in love with him as she did with his fellow-craftsman, the
gardener Ishullanu, and he becomes king, we know not by what means.

     * The phrase “Black Heads,” _nishi salmat hahhadi_, has been
     taken in an ethnological sense as designating one of the
     races of Chaldaea, the Semitic; other Assyriologists consider
     it as denoting mankind in general. The latter meaning seems
     the more probable.

     ** Smith had already compared the infancy of Sargon with
     that of Moses; the comparison with Cyrus, Bacchus, and
     Romulus was made by Talbot. Traditions of the same kind are
     frequent in history or folk-tales.

The same inscription which reveals the romance of his youth, recounts
the successes of his manhood, and boasts of the uniformly victorious
issue of his warlike exploits. Owing to lacunae, the end of the account
is in the main wanting, and we are thus prevented from following the
development of his career, but other documents come to the rescue and
claim to furnish its most important vicissitudes. He had reduced the
cities of the Lower Euphrates, the island of Dilmun, Durilu, Elam, the
country of Kazalla: he had invaded Syria, conquered Phoenicia, crossed
the arm of the sea which separates Cyprus from the coast, and only
returned to his palace after an absence of three years, and after having
erected his statues on the Syrian coast. He had hardly settled down to
rest when a rebellion broke out suddenly; the chiefs of Chaldaea formed
a league against him, and blockaded him in Agade: Ishtar, exceptionally
faithful to the end, obtains for him the victory, and he comes out of a
crisis, in which he might have been utterly ruined, with a more secure
position than ever. All these events are regarded as having occurred
sometime about 3800 B.C., at a period when the VIth dynasty was
flourishing in Egypt. Some of them have been proved to be true by recent
discoveries, and the rest are not at all improbable in themselves,
though the work in which they are recorded is a later astrological
treatise. The writer was anxious to prove, by examples drawn from the
chronicles, the use of portents of victory or defeat, of civic peace
or rebellion--portents which he deduced from the configuration of the
heavens on the various days of the month: by going back as far as Sargon
of Agade for his instances, he must have at once increased the respect
for himself on account of his knowledge of antiquity, and the difficulty
which the common herd must have felt in verifying his assertions. His
zeal in collecting examples was probably stimulated by the fact that
some of the exploits which he attributes to the ancient Sargon had been
recently accomplished by a king of the same name: the brilliant career
of Sargon of Agade would seem to have been in his estimation something
like an anticipation of the still more glorious life of the Sargon of
Nineveh.* What better proof of the high veneration in which the learned
men of Assyria held the memory of the ancient Chaldaean conqueror?
Naramsin, who succeeded Sargon about 3750 B.C.** inherited his
authority, and to some extent his renown.

     * Hommel (Gescamede, p. 307) believes that the life of our
     Sargon was modelled, not on the Assyrian Sargon, but on a
     second Sargon, whom he places about 2000 B.C. Tiele refuses
     to accept the hypothesis, but his objections are not
     weighty, in my opinion; Hilprecht and Sayce accepted the
     authenticity of the facts in their details, and the recent
     discoveries have shown that they were right in so doing.
     There is a distant resemblance between the life of the
     legendary Sargon and the account of the victories of Ramses
     II. ending in a conspiracy on his return.


     ** The date of Naramsin is given us by the cylinder of
     Nabonidos, who is cited lower down. It was discovered by
     Pinches. Its authenticity is maintained by Oppert, by
     Latrille, by Tiele, by Hommel, who felt at first some
     hesitation, by Delitzsch-Murdter; it has been called in
     question, with hesitation, by Ed. Meyer, and more boldly by
     Winckler. There is at present no serious reason to question
     its accuracy, at least relatively, except the instinctive
     repugnance of modern critics to consider as legitimate,
     dates which carry them back further into the past than they
     are accustomed to go.

The astrological tablets assert that he attacked the city of Apirak, on
the borders of Elam, killed the Sing, Rish-ramman, and led the people
away into slavery. He conquered at least part, if not the whole of Elam,
and one of the few monuments which have come down to us was raised at
Sippara in commemoration of his prowess against the mountaineers of the
Zagros. He is represented on it overpowering their chief: his warriors
follow after him and charge up the hill, carrying everything before
their steady onslaught. Another of his warlike expeditions is said to
have had as its field of operations a district of Magan, which, in the
view of the writer, undoubtedly represented the Sinaitic Peninsula and
perhaps Egypt. This expedition against Magan no doubt took place, and
one of the few monuments of Naramsin which have reached us refers to it.
Other inscriptions tell us incidentally that Naramsin reigned over the
“four Houses of the world,” Babylon, Sippara, Nipur, and Lagash. Like
his father, he had worked at the building of the Ekur of Nipur and the
Bulbar of Agade; he erected, moreover, at his own cost, the temple
of the Sun at Sippara.* The latter passed through many and varied
vicissitudes. Restored, enlarged, ruined on several occasions, the date
of its construction and the name of its founder were lost in the course
of ages.

     * The text giving us this information is that in which
     Nabonidos affirms that Naramsin, son of Sargon of Agado, had
     founded the temple of the Sun at Sippara, 3200 years before
     himself, which would give us 3750 B.C. for the reign of
     Naramsin.

The last independent King of Babylon, Nabonaid [Nabonidos], at length
discovered the cylinders in which Naramsin, son of Sargon, had signified
to posterity all that he had done towards the erection of a temple
worthy of the deity to the god of Sippara: “for three thousand two
hundred years not one of the kings had been able to find them.” We
have no means of judging what these edifices were like for which
the Chaldaeans themselves showed such veneration; they have entirely
disappeared, or, if anything remains of them, the excavations hitherto
carried out have not revealed it. Many small objects, however, which
have accidentally escaped destruction give us a fair idea of the artists
who lived in Babylon at this time, and of their skill in handling the
graving-tool and chisel. An alabaster vase with the name of
Naramsin, and a mace-head of exquisitely veined marble, dedicated by
Shargani-shar-ali to the sun-god of Sippara, are valued only on account
of the beauty of the material and the rarity of the inscription; but a
porphyry cylinder, which belonged to Ibnishar, scribe of the above-named
Shargani, must be ranked among the masterpieces of Oriental engraving.
It represents the hero Gilgames, kneeling and holding with both hands
a spherically shaped vase, from which flow two copious jets forming a
stream running through the country; an ox, armed with a pair of gigantic
crescent-shaped horns, throws back its head to catch one of the jets
as it falls. Everything in this little specimen is equally worthy of
admiration--the purity of outline, the skilful and delicate cutting of
the intaglio, the fidelity of the action, and the accuracy of form.
A fragment of a bas-relief of the reign of Naramsin shows that the
sculptors were not a bit behind the engravers of gems. This consists now
only of a single figure, a god, who is standing on the right, wearing a
conical head-dress and clothed in a hairy garment which leaves his right
arm free. The legs are wanting, the left arm and the hair are for
the most part broken away, while the features have also suffered; its
distinguishing characteristic is a sublety of workmanship which is
lacking in the artistic products of a later age. The outline stands out
from the background with a rare delicacy, the details of the muscles
being in no sense exaggerated: were it not for the costume and pointed
beard, one would fancy it a specimen of Egyptian work of the best
Memphite period.

[Illustration 096.jpg THE SEAL OF SHARGANI-SHAR-ALI: GILGAMES WATERS THE
CELESTIAL OX.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Menant.

One is almost tempted to believe in the truth of the tradition which
ascribes to Naramsin the conquest of Egypt, or of the neighbouring
countries.

[Illustration: 096a.jpg Painting in Color of Charioteer]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph published by Father
     Schiel.

[Illustration: 097.jpg Page image]

Did Sargon and Naramsin live at so early a date as that assigned to
them by Nabonidos? The scribes who assisted the kings of the second
Babylonian empire in their archaeological researches had perhaps
insufficient reasons for placing the date of these kings so far back in
the misty past: should evidence of a serious character A constrain us to
attribute to them a later origin, we ought not to be surprised. In the
mean time our best course is to accept the opinion of the Chaldaeans,
and to leave Sargon and Naramsin in the century assigned to them by
Nabonidos, although from this point they look down as from a high
eminence upon all the rest of Chaldaean antiquity. Excavations have
brought to light several personages of a similar date, whether a
little earlier, or a little later: Bingani-sharali, Man-ish-turba,
and especially Alusharshid, who lived at Kishu and Nipur, and gained
victories over Elam.

[Illustration: 098.jpg Page image: the arms op the city and kings of
Lagash]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief from Lagash, now
     in the Louvre

After this glimpse of light on these shadowy kings darkness once more
closes in upon us, and conceals from us the majority of the sovereigns
who ruled afterwards in Babylon. The facts and names which can be
referred with certainty to the following centuries belong not to
Babylon, but to the southern States, Lagash, Uruk, Uru, Nishin, and
Larsam. The national writers had neglected these principalities;
we possess neither a resume of their chronicles nor a list of their
dynasties, and the inscriptions which speak of their the arms of the
city gods and princes are still very rare and kings of Lagash. Lagash,
as far as our evidence goes, was, perhaps, the most illustrious of
all these cities.* It occupied the heart of the country, and its site
covered both sides of the Shatt-el-Hai; the Tigris separated it on the
east from Anshan, the westernmost of the Elamite districts, with which
it carried on a perpetual frontier war.

     * We are indebted almost exclusively to the researches of M.
     de Sarzec, and his discoveries at Telloh, for what we know
     of it. The results of his excavations, acquired by the
     French government, are now in the Louvre. The description of
     the ruins, the text of the inscriptions, and an account of
     the statues and other objects found in the course of the
     work, have been published by Heuzey-Sakzec, _Decouvertes en
     Chaldee_. The name of the ancient town has been read
     Sirpurla, Zirgulla, etc.

All parts of the country were not equally fertile: the fruitful and
well-cultivated district in the neighbourhood of the Shatt-el-Hai gave
place to impoverished lands ending to the eastward, finally in swampy
marshes, which with great difficulty furnished means of sustenance to a
poor and thinly scattered population of fisher-folk.

[Illustration: 099.jpg FRAGMENT OF BAS-RELIEF BY URNINA, KING OF
LAGASH.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a stone in the Louvre.

The capital, built on the left bank of the river, stretched out to the
north-east and south-west a distance of some five miles. It was not so
much a city as an agglomeration of large villages, each grouped around a
temple or palace--Uruazagga, Gishgalla, G-irsu, Nina, and Lagash,
which latter imposed its name upon the whole. A branch of the river
Shatt-el-Hai protected it on the south, and supplied the village of
Nina with water; no trace of an inclosing wall has been found, and the
temples and palaces seem to have served as refuges in case of attack.
It had as its arms, or totem, a double-headed eagle standing on a lion
passant, or on two demi-lions placed back to back. Its chief god was
called Ningirsu, that is, the lord of Girsu, where his temple stood: his
companion Bau, and his associates Ninagal, Innanna and Ninsia, were
the deities of the other divisions of the city. The princes were first
called kings, but afterwards vicegerents--_patesi_--when they came under
the suzerainty of a more powerful king, the King of Uruk or of Babylon.

The earlier history of this remarkable town is made up of the
scanty memoirs of its rulers, together with those of the princes of
Gishban--“the land of the Bow,” of which Ishin seems to have been the
principal town. A very ancient document states, that, at the instigation
of Inlil, the god of Nipur, the local deities, Ningirsu and Kirsig, set
up a boundary between the two cities. In the course of time, Meshilim,
a king of Kishu, which, before the rise of Agade, was the chief town in
those parts, extended his dominion over Lagash and erected his stele at
its border; Ush, vicegerent of Gishban, however, removed it, and had to
suffer defeat before he would recognize the new order of things. After
the lapse of some years, of which we possess no records, we find the
mention of a certain Urukagina, who assumes the title of king: he
restored or enlarged several temples, and dug the canal which supplied
the town of Nina with water. A few generations later we find the ruling
authority in the hands of a certain Urnina, whose father Ninigaldun and
grandfather Gurshar received no titles--a fact which proves that they
could not have been reigning sovereigns. Urnina appears to have been of
a peaceful and devout disposition, as the inscriptions contain frequent
references to the edifices he had erected in honour of the gods, the
sacred objects he had dedicated to them, and the timber for building
purposes which he had brought from Magan, but there is no mention in
them of any war. His son Akurgal was also a builder of temples, but
his grandson Idingiranagin, who succeeded Akurgal, was a warlike and
combative prince.

[Illustration: 101.jpg IDINGIRANAGIN HOLDING THE TOTEM OF LAGASH.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the bas-relief F2 in the
     Louvre.

It seems probable that, about that time, the kingdom of Gishban had
become a really powerful state. It had triumphed not only over
Babylonia proper, but over Kish, Uru, Uruk, and Larsam, while one of its
sovereigns had actually established his rule in some parts of Northern
Syria. Idingiranagin vanquished the troops of Gishban, and there is now
in the Louvre a trophy which he dedicated in the temple of Ninglrsu on
his return from the campaign.

     * Hilpeecht, Bab. Expcd. of the Univ. of Pennsylvania, vol.
     i., 2nd part, p. 47 sqq.

[Illustration: 102.jpg IDINGIRANAGIN IN HIS CHARIOT LEADING HIS TROOPS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief in the Louvre. The
     attendant standing behind the king has been obliterated, but
     we see clearly the contour of his shoulder, and his hands
     holding the reins. It is a large stele of close-grained
     white limestone, rounded at the top, and covered with scenes
     and inscriptions on both its faces. One of these faces
     treats only of religious subjects. Two warlike goddesses,
     crowned with plumed head-dresses and crescent-shaped horns,
     are placed before a heap of weapons and various other
     objects, which probably represent some of the booty
     collected in the campaign. It would appear that they
     accompany a tall figure of a god or king, possibly that of
     the deity Ningirsu, patron of Lagash and its kings. Ningirsu
     raises in one hand an ensign, of which the staff bears at
     the top the royal totem, the eagle with outspread wings
     laying hold by his talons of two half-lions back to back;
     with the other hand he brings a, club down heavily upon a
     group of prisoners, who struggle at his feet in the meshes
     of a large net.


[Illustration: 103.jpg Page image. VULTURES FEEDING UPON THE DEAD.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the fragment of a bas-relief in
     the Louvre. This is the human sacrifice after the victory,
     such as we find it in Egypt--the offering to the national
     god of a tenth of the captives, who struggle in vain to
     escape from fate. On the other stele the battle is at its
     height. Idingiranagin, standing upright in his chariot,
     which is guided by an attendant, charges the enemy at the
     head of his troops, and the plain is covered with corpses
     cut down by his fierce blows: a flock of vultures accompany
     him, and peck at each other in their struggles over the
     arms, legs, and decapitated heads of the vanquished. Victory
     once secured, he retraces his steps to bestow funeral
     honours upon the dead.


[Illustration: 104.jpg PILING UP THE MOUND OF THE DEAD AFTER THE
BATTLE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the fragment of a bas-relief in
     the Louvre. The bodies raised regularly in layers form an
     enormous heap: priests or soldiers wearing loin-cloths mount
     to its top, where they pile the offerings and the earth
     which are to form the funerary mound. The sovereign,
     moreover, has, in honour of the dead, consigned to execution
     some of the prisoners, and deigns to kill with his own hand
     one of the principal chiefs of the enemy.

The design and execution of these scenes are singularly rude; men and
beasts--indeed, all the figures--have exaggerated proportions, uncouth
forms, awkward positions, and an uncertain and heavy gait. The war ended
in a treaty concluded with Enakalli, vicegerent of Grishban, by which
Lagash obtained considerable advantages. Idingiranagin replaced the
stele of Meshilim, overthrown by one of Enakalli’s predecessors, and
dug a ditch from the Euphrates to the provinces of Guedln to serve
henceforth as a boundary. He further levied a tribute of corn for the
benefit of the goddess Nina and her consort Ningirsu, and applied
the spoils of the campaign to the building of new sanctuaries for the
patron-gods of his city.

[Illustration: 105.jpg KING URNINA AND HIS FAMILY.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief in the Louvre. Cf.
     another bas-relief of the same king, p. 244; and for the
     probable explanation of these pierced plaques, see p. 258 of
     the present work.

His reign was, on the whole, a glorious and successful one. He conquered
the mountain district of Elam, rescued Uruk and Uru, which had both
fallen into the hands of the people of Gishban, organized an expedition
against the town of Az and killed its vicegerent, in addition to which
he burnt Arsua, and devastated the district of Mishime. He next directed
an attack against Zuran, king of Udban, and, by vanquishing this Prince
on the field of battle, he extended his dominion over nearly the whole
of Babylonia.

The prosperity of his dynasty was subjected to numerous and strange
vicissitudes. Whether it was that its resources were too feeble to
stand the exigencies and strain of war for any length of time, or that
intestine strife had been the chief cause of its decline, we cannot
say. Its kings married many wives and became surrounded with a numerous
progeny: Urnina had at least four sons. They often entrusted to their
children or their sons-in-law the government of the small towns which
together made up the city: these represented so many temporary fiefs, of
which the holders were distinguished by the title of “vicegerents.” This
dismemberment of the supreme authority in the interest of princes, who
believed for the most part that they had stronger claims to the throne
than its occupant, was attended with dangers to peace and to the
permanence of the dynasty. The texts furnish us with evidence of the
existence of at least half a dozen descendants of Akurgal--Inannatuma
I., Intemena, his grandson Inannatuma II, all of whom seem to have been
vigorous rulers who energetically maintained the supremacy of their city
over the neighbouring estates. Inannatuma I., however, proved no match
in the end against Urlamma, the vicegerent of Gishban, and lost part, at
least, of the territory acquired by Idingiranagin, but his son Intemena
defeated Urlamma on the banks of the Lumasirta Canal, and, having killed
or deposed him, gave the vicegerency of Gishban to a certain Hi, priest
of Ninab, who remained his loyal vassal to the end of his days. With
his aid Intemena restored the stelae and walls which had been destroyed
during the war; he also cleared out the old canals and dug new ones, the
most important of which was apparently an arm of the Shatt-el-Hai, and
ran from the Euphrates to the Tigris, through the very centre of the
domains of Ghirsu.

Other kings and vicegerents of doubtful sequence were followed lastly by
Urbau and his son Gudea. These were all piously devoted to Ningirsu in
general, and in particular to the patron of their choice from among
the divinities of the country--Papsukal, Dunziranna, and Ninagal. They
restored and enriched the temples of these gods: they dedicated to
them statues or oblation vases for the welfare of themselves and their
families. It would seem, if we are to trust the accounts which they give
of themselves, that their lives were passed in profound peace, without
other care than that of fulfilling their duties to heaven and its
ministers. Their actual condition, if we could examine it, would
doubtless appear less agreeable and especially less equable; revolutions
in the palace would not be wanting, nor struggles with the other peoples
of Chaldaea, with Susiana and even more distant nations. When Agade rose
into power in Northern Babylonia, they fell under its rule, and one of
them, Lugal-ushum-gal, acknowledged himself a dependant of Sargon. On
the decline of Agade, and when that city was superseded by Uru in the
hegemony of Babylonia proper, the vicegerents of Lagash were transferred
with the other great towns to the jurisdiction of Uru, and flourished
under the supremacy of the new dynasty.

Grudea, son of Urbau, who, if not the most powerful of its princes,
is at least the sovereign of whom we possess the greatest number of
monuments, captured the town of Anshan in Elam, and this is probably not
the only campaign in which he took part, for he speaks of his success
in an incidental manner, and as if he were in a hurry to pass to more
interesting subjects.

[Illustration: 108.jpg THE SACRIFICE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a stone in the Louvre.

That which seemed to him important in his reign, and which especially
called forth the recognition of posterity, was the number of his pious
foundations, distinguished as they were by beauty and magnificence. The
gods themselves had inspired him in his devout undertakings, and had
even revealed to him the plans which he was to carry out. An old man of
venerable aspect appeared to him in a vision, and commanded him to build
a temple: as he did not know with whom he had to do, Nina his mother
informed him that it was his brother, the god Ningirsu. This having been
made clear, a young woman furnished with style and writing tablet was
presented to him--Nisaba, the sister of Nina; she made a drawing in his
presence, and put before him the complete model of a building. He set
to work on it _con amore_, and sent for materials to the most distant
countries--to Magan, Amanus, the Lebanon, and into the mountains which
separate the valley of the Upper Tigris from that of the Euphrates.

[Illustration: 109.jpg SITTING STATUE OF GUDEA]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin

The sanctuaries which he decorated, and of which he felt so proud, are
to-day mere heaps of bricks, now returned to their original clay; but
many of the objects which he placed in them, and especially the statues,
have traversed the centuries without serious damage before finding a
resting-place in the Louvre. The sculptors of Lagash, after the time of
Idingi-ranagin, had been instructed in a good school, and had learned
their business. Their bas-reliefs are not so good as those of Naramsin;
the execution of them is not so refined, the drawing less delicate, and
the modelling of the parts not so well thought out. A good illustration
of their work is the fragment of a square stele which represents a scene
of offering or sacrifice. We see in the lower part of the picture a
female singer, who is accompanied by a musician, playing on a lyre
ornamented with the head of an ox, and a bull in the act of walking.
In the upper part an individual advances, clad in a fringed mantle, and
bearing in his right hand a kind of round paten, and in his left a short
staff. An acolyte follows him, his arms brought up to his breast, while
another individual marks, by clapping his hands, the rhythm of the ode
which a singer like the one below is reciting. The fragment is much
abraded, and its details, not being clearly exhibited, have rather to
be guessed at; but the defaced aspect which time has produced is of some
service to it, since it conceals in some respect the rudeness of
its workmanship. The statues, on the other hand, bear evidence of a
precision of chiselling and a skill beyond question. Not that there are
no faults to be found in the work. They are squat, thick, and heavy
in form, and seem oppressed by the weight of the woollen covering with
which the Chaldeans enveloped themselves; when viewed closely, they
excite at once the wonder and repulsion of an eye accustomed to the
delicate grace, and at times somewhat slender form, which usually
characterized the good statues of the ancient and middle empire of
Egypt. But when we have got over the effect of first impressions, we can
but admire the audacity with which the artists attacked their material.
This is of hard dolerite, offering great resistance to the tool--harder,
perhaps, than the diorite out of which the Memphite sculptor had to
cut his Khephren: they succeeded in mastering it, and in handling it as
freely as if it were a block of limestone or marble.

[Illustration: 111.jpg Plan of the Ruins of Mughier]

The surface of the breast and back, the muscular development of the
shoulders and arms, the details of the hands and feet, all the nude
portions, are treated at once with a boldness and attention to minutiae
rarely met with in similar works. The pose is lacking in variety; the
individual, whether male or female, is sometimes represented standing
and sometimes sitting on a low seat, the legs brought together, the bust
rising squarely from the hips, the hands crossed upon the breast, in a
posture of submission or respectful adoration. The mantle passes over
the left shoulder, leaving the right free, and is fastened on the right
breast, the drapery displaying awkward and inartistic folds: the latter
widens in the form of a funnel from top to bottom, being bell-shaped
around the lower part of the body, and barely leaves the ankles exposed.

[Illustration: 112.jpg STATUES FROM TELLOH. and HEAD OF ONE OF THE
STATUE OF GUDEA.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec.

All the large statues to be seen at the Louvre have lost their heads;
fortunately we possess a few separate heads. Some are completely shaven,
others wear a kind of turban affording shade to the forehead and eyes;
among them all we see the same qualities and defects which we find in
the bodies: a hardness of expression, heaviness, absence of vivacity,
and yet withal a vigour of reproduction and an accurate knowledge of
human anatomy. These are instances of what could be accomplished in a
city of secondary rank; better things were doubtless produced in the
great cities, such as Uru and Babylon. Chaldaean art, as we are able
to catch a glimpse of it in the monuments of Lagash, had neither the
litheness, nor animation, nor elegance of the Egyptian, but it was
nevertheless not lacking in force, breadth, and originality. Urningirsu
succeeded his father Gudea, to be followed rapidly by several successive
vicegerents, ending, it would appear, in Gala-lama. Their inscriptions
are short and insignificant, and show that they did not enjoy the same
resources or the same favour which enabled Gudea to reign gloriously.
The prosperity of Lagash decreased steadily under their administration,
and they were all the humble vassals of the King of Uru, Dungi, son of
Urbau; a fact which tends to make us regard Urbau as having been the
suzerain upon whom Gudea himself was dependent. Uru, the only city among
those of Lower Chaldaea which stands on the right bank of the Euphrates,
was a small but strong place, and favourably situated for becoming one
of the commercial and industrial centres in these distant ages. The
Wady Eummein, not far distant, brought to it the riches of Central and
Southern Arabia, gold, precious stones, gums, and odoriferous resins for
the exigencies of worship. Another route, marked out by wells, traversed
the desert to the land of the semi-fabulous Mashu, and from thence
perhaps penetrated as far as Southern Syria and the Sinaitic
Peninsula--Magan and Milukhkha on the shores of the Red Sea: this was
not the easiest but it was the most direct route for those bound for
Africa, and products of Egypt were no doubt carried along it in order
to reach in the shortest time the markets of Uru. The Euphrates now
runs nearly five miles to the north of the town, but from the regions
bordering the Black Sea.

[Illustration: 114.jpg Plan of the Ruins of Abu-Shahreyn]

In ancient times it was not so distant, but passed almost by its
gates. The cedars, cypresses, and pines of Amamis and the Lebanon,the
limestones, marbles, and hard stones of Upper Syria, were brought down
to it by boat; and probably also metals--iron, copper and lead.

The Shatt-el-Hai, moreover, poured its waters into the Euphrates almost
opposite the city, and opened up to it commercial relations with the
Upper and Middle Tigris. And this was not all; whilst some of its
boatmen used its canals and rivers as highways, another section made
their way to the waters of the Persian Gulf and traded with the ports on
its coast. Eridu, the only city which could have barred their access
to the sea, was a town given up to religion, and existed only for its
temples and its gods. It was not long before it fell under the influence
of its powerful neighbour, becoming the first port of call for vessels
proceeding up the Euphrates.

[Illustration: 115.jpg AN ARAB CROSSING THE TIGRIS IN A “KUFA.”]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Chesney.

In the time of the Greeks and Romans the Chaldaeans were accustomed
to navigate the Tigris either in round flat-bottomed boats, of little
draught--“kufas,” in fact--or on rafts placed upon inflated skins,
exactly similar in appearance and construction to the “keleks” of our
own day. These keleks were as much at home on the sea as upon the river,
and they may still be found in the Persian Gulf engaged in the coasting
trade. Doubtless many of these were included among the vessels of Uru
mentioned in the texts, but there were also among the latter those
long large rowing-boats with curved stem and stern, Egyptian in their
appearance, which are to be found roughly incised on some ancient
cylinders. These primitive fleets were not disposed to risk the
navigation of the open sea. They preferred to proceed slowly along the
shore, hugging it in all cases, except when it was necessary to reach
some group of neighbouring islands; many days of navigation were thus
required to make a passage which one of our smallest sail-boats would
effect in a few hours, and at the end of their longest voyages they
were not very distant from their point of departure. It would be a great
mistake to suppose them capable of sailing round Arabia and of fetching
blocks of stone by sea from the Sinaitic Peninsula; such an expedition,
which would have been dangerous even for Greek or Roman Galleys, would
have been simply impossible for them. If they ever crossed the Strait
of Ormuzd, it was an exceptional thing, their ordinary voyages being
confined within the limits of the gulf. The merchants of Uru were
accustomed to visit regularly the island of Dilmun, the land of Magan,
the countries of Milukhkha and Gubin; from these places they brought
cargoes of diorite for their sculptors, building-timber for their
architects, perfumes and metals transported from Yemen by land, and
possibly pearls from the Bahrein Islands. They encountered serious
rivalry from the sailors of Dilmun and Magan, whose maritime tribes were
then as now accustomed to scour the seas. The risk was great for those
who set out on such expeditions, perhaps never to return, but the profit
was considerable.

[Illustration: 117.jpg AN ASSYRIAN KELEK LADEN WITH BUILDING-STONE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief from “Kouyunjik”
      (Layard, _The Monuments of Nineveh_, 2nd series, pi. 13; cf.
     Place, _Ninive et l’Assyrie_, pl. 43, No. 1.)

Uru, enriched by its commerce, was soon in a position to subjugate
the petty neighbouring states--Uruk, Larsam, Lagash, and Nipur. Its
territory formed a fairly extended sovereignty, whose lords entitled
themselves kings of Shumir and Akkad, and ruled over all Southern
Chaldaea for many centuries.

Several of these kings, the Lugalkigubnidudu and the Lugalkisalsi, of
whom some monuments have been preserved to us, seem to have extended
their influence beyond these limits prior to the time of Sargon the
Elder; and we can date the earliest of them with tolerable probability.
Urbau reigned some time about 2900 B.C. He was an energetic builder, and
material traces of his activity are to be found everywhere throughout
the country. The temple of the Sun at Larsam, the temple of Nina in
Uruk, and the temples of Inlilla and Ninlilla in Nipur were indebted
to him for their origin or restoration: he decorated or repaired
all structures which were not of his own erection: in Uru itself
the sanctuary of the moon-god owes its foundation to him, and the
fortifications of the city were his work. Dungi, his son, was an
indefatigable bricklayer, like his father: he completed the sanctuary
of the moon-god, and constructed buildings in Uruk, Lagash, and Kutha.
There is no indication in the inscriptions of his having been engaged
in any civil struggle or in war with a foreign nation; we should make a
serious mistake, however, if we concluded from this silence that peace
was not disturbed in his time. The tie which bound together the petty
states of which Uru was composed was of the slightest. The sovereign
could barely claim as his own more than the capital and the district
surrounding it; the other cities recognized his authority, paid him
tribute, did homage to him in religious matters, and doubtless rendered
him military service also, but each one of them nevertheless maintained
its particular constitution and obeyed its hereditary lords. These
lords, it is true, lost their title of king, which now belonged
exclusively to their suzerain, and each one had to be content in his
district with the simple designation of “vicegerent;” but having once
fulfilled their feudal obligations, they had absolute power over
their ancient domains, and were able to transmit to their progeny the
inheritance they had received from their fathers. Gudea probably, and
most certainly his successors, ruled in this way over Lagash, as a fief
depending on the crown of Uru. After the manner of the Egyptian barons,
the vassals of the kings of Chaldaea submitted to the control of their
suzerain without resenting his authority as long as they felt the
curbing influence of a strong hand: but on the least sign of feebleness
in their master they reasserted themselves, and endeavoured to recover
their independence. A reign of any length was sure to be disturbed by
rebellions sometimes difficult to repress: if we are ignorant of any
such, it is owing to the fact that inscriptions hitherto discovered are
found upon objects upon which an account of a battle would hardly find
a fitting place, such as bricks from a temple, votive cones or cylinders
of terra-cotta, amulets or private seals. We are still in ignorance as
to Dungi’s successors, and the number of years during which this first
dynasty was able to prolong its existence. We can but guess that its
empire broke up by disintegration after a period of no long duration.
Its cities for the most part became emancipated, and their rulers
proclaimed themselves kings once more. We see that the kingdom of
Amnanu, for instance, was established on the left bank of the Euphrates,
with Uruk as its capital, and that three successive sovereigns at
least--of whom Singashid seems to have been the most active--were able
to hold their own there. Uru had still, however, sufficient prestige and
wealth to make it the actual metropolis of the entire country. No one
could become the legitimate lord of Shumir and Accad before he had
been solemnly enthroned in the temple at Uru. For many centuries every
ambitious kinglet in turn contended for its possession and made it
his residence. The first of these, about 2500 B.C., were the lords
of Nishin, Libitanunit, Gamiladar, Inedin, Bursin I., and Ismidagan:
afterwards, about 2400 B.C., Gungunum of Nipur made himself master of
it. The descendants of Gungunum, amongst others Bursin II., Gimilsin,
Inesin, reigned gloriously for a few years. Their records show that
they conquered not only a part of Elam, but part of Syria. They were
dispossessed in their turn by a family belonging to Larsam, whose two
chief representatives, as far as we know, were Nurramman and his son
Sinidinnam (about 2300 B.C.). Naturally enough, Sinidinnam was a builder
or repairer of temples, but he added to such work the clearing of the
Shatt-el-Hai and the excavation of a new canal giving a more direct
communication between the Shatt and the Tigris, and in thus controlling
the water-system of the country became worthy of being considered one of
the benefactors of Chaldaea.

We have here the mere dust of history, rather than history itself: here
an isolated individual makes his appearance in the record of his name,
to vanish when we attempt to lay hold of him; there, the stem of a
dynasty which breaks abruptly off, pompous preambles, devout formulas,
dedications of objects or buildings, here and there the account of some
battle, or the indication of some foreign country with which relations
of friendship or commerce were maintained--these are the scanty
materials out of which to construct a connected narrative. Egypt has not
much more to offer us in regard to many of her Pharaohs, but we have in
her case at least the ascertained framework of her dynasties, in
which each fact and each new name falls eventually, and after some
uncertainty, into its proper place. The main outlines of the picture are
drawn with sufficient exactitude to require no readjustment, the groups
are for the most part in their fitting positions, the blank spaces or
positions not properly occupied are gradually restricted, and filled in
from day to day; the expected moment is in sight when, the arrangement
of the whole being accomplished, it will be necessary only to fill in
the details. In the case of Chaldaea the framework itself is wanting,
and expedients must be resorted to in order to classify the elements
entering into its composition. Naramsin is in his proper place, or
nearly so; but as for Gudea, what interval separates him from Naramsin,
and at what distance from Gudea are we to place the kings of Uru? The
beginnings of Chaldaea have merely a provisional history: the facts in
it are certain, but the connection of the facts with one another is too
often a matter of speculation. The arrangement which is put forward at
present can be regarded only as probable, but it would be difficult
to propose a better until the excavations have furnished us with fresh
material; it must be accepted merely as an attempt, without pledging to
it our confidence on the one hand, or regarding it with scepticism on
the other.



CHAPTER II--THE TEMPLES AND THE GODS OF CHALDAEA

_THE CONSTRUCTION AND REVENUES OF THE TEMPLES--THE POPULAR GODS AND THE
THEOLOGICAL TRIADS----THE DEAD AND HADES_.

_Chaldaean cities: the resemblance of their ruins to natural mounds
caused by their exclusive use of brick as a building material--Their
city walls: the temples and local gods; reconstruction of their history
by means of the stamped bricks of which they were built--The two types
of ziggurat: the arrangement of the temple of Nannar at Uru.

The tribes of the Chaldaean gods--Genii hostile to men, their monstrous
shapes; the south-west wind; friendly genii--The Seven, and their
attacks on the moon-god; Gibil, the fire-god, overcomes them and their
snares--The Sumerian gods; Ningirsu: the difficulty of defining them and
of understanding the nature of them; they become merged in the Semitic
deities.

Characteristics and dispositions of the Chaldaean gods--the goddesses,
like women of the harem, are practically nonentities; Mylitta and
her meretricious rites--The divine aristocracy and its principal
representatives: their relations to the earth, oracles, speaking
statues, household gods--The gods of each city do not exclude those
of neighbouring cities: their alliances and their borrowings from one
another--The sky-gods and the earth-gods, the sidereal gods: the moon
and the sun.

The feudal gods: several among them unite to govern the world; the two
triads of Eridu--The supreme triad: Anu the heaven; Bel the earth and
his fusion with the Babylonian Merodach; Ea, the god of the waters--The
second triad: Sin the moon and Shamash the sun; substitution of Bamman
for Ishtar in this triad; the winds and the legend of Adapa, the
attributes of Ramman--The addition of goddesses to these two triads;
the insignificant position which they occupy.

The assembly of the gods governs the world: the bird Zu steals the
tablets of destiny--Destinies are written in the heavens and determined
by the movements of the stars; comets and their presiding deities, Nebo
and Ishtai--The numerical value of the gods--The arrangement of the
temples, the local priesthood, festivals, revenues of the gods and gifts
made to them--Sacrifices, the expiation of crimes--Death and the future
of the soul--Tombs and the cremation of the dead; the royal sepulchres
and funerary rites--Hades and its sovereigns: Nergal, Allat, the
descent of Ishtar into the infernal regions, and the possibility of a
resurrection The invocation of the dead--The ascension of Etana._


[Illustration: 124.jpg Chapter II]



CHAPTER II--THE TEMPLES AND THE GODS OF CHALDAEA

_The construction and revenues of the temples--Popular gods and
theological triads--The dead and Hades_.


The cities of the Euphrates attract no attention, like those of the
Nile, by the magnificence of their ruins, which are witnesses,
even after centuries of neglect, to the activity of a powerful and
industrious people: on the contrary, they are merely heaps of rubbish in
which no architectural outline can be distinguished--mounds of stiff
and greyish clay, cracked by the sun, washed into deep crevasses by the
rain, and bearing no apparent traces of the handiwork of man.

[Illustration: 126.jpg PLAN OF THE RUINS OF WAKKA]

In the estimation of the Chaldaean architects, stone was a material of
secondary consideration: as it was necessary to bring it from a great
distance and at considerable expense, they used it very sparingly, and
then merely for lintels, uprights, thresholds, for hinges on which to
hang their doors, for dressings in some of their state apartments, in
cornices or sculptured friezes on the external walls of their buildings;
and even then its employment suggested rather that of a band of
embroidery carefully disposed on some garment to relieve the plainness
of the material. Crude brick, burnt brick, enamelled brick, but always
and everywhere brick was the principal element in their construction.
The soil of the marshes or of the plains, separated from the pebbles
and foreign substances which it contained, mixed with grass or chopped
straw, moistened with water, and assiduously trodden underfoot,
furnished the ancient builders with materials of incredible tenacity.
This was moulded into thin square bricks, eight inches to a foot across,
and three to four inches thick, but rarely larger: they were stamped on
the flat side, by means of an incised wooden block, with the name of
the reigning sovereign, and were then dried in the sun.* A layer of
fine mortar or of bitumen was sometimes spread between the courses, or
handfuls of reeds would be strewn at intervals between the brickwork to
increase the cohesion: more frequently the crude bricks were piled one
upon another, and their natural softness and moisture brought about
their rapid agglutination.** As the building proceeded, the weight
of the courses served to increase still further the adherence of the
layers: the walls soon became consolidated into a compact mass, in which
the horizontal strata were distinguishable only by the varied tints of
the clay used to make the different relays of bricks.

     * The making of bricks for the Assyrian monuments of the
     time of the Sargonids has been minutely described by Place,
     _Ninive et l’Assyrie_, vol. i. pp. 211-214. The methods of
     procedure were exactly the same as those used under the
     earliest king known, as has been proved by the examination
     of the bricks taken from the monuments of Uru and Lagash.

     ** This method of building was noticed by classical writers.
     The word “Bowarieh,” borne by several ancient mounds in
     Chaldoa, signifies, properly speaking, a mat of reeds; it is
     applied only to such buildings as are apparently constructed
     with alternate layers of brick and dried reeds. The
     proportion of these layers differs in certain localities: in
     the ruins of the ancient temple of Belos at Babylon, now
     called the “Mujelibeh,” the lines of straw and reeds run
     uninterruptedly between each course of bricks; in the ruins
     of Akkerkuf, they only occur at wider intervals--according
     to Niebuhr and Ives, every seventh or eighth course;
     according to Raymond, every seventh course, or sometimes
     every fifth or sixth course, but in these cases the layer of
     reeds becomes 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 inches wide. H. Rawlin-son
     thinks, on the other hand, that all the monuments in which
     we find layers of straw and reeds between the brick courses
     belong to the Parthian period.

[Illustration: 128.jpg A CHALDAEAN STAMPED BRICK.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a brick preserved in the
     Louvre. The bricks bearing historical inscriptions, which
     are sometimes met with, appear to have been mostly ex-voto
     offerings placed somewhere prominently, and not building
     materials hidden in the masonry.


Monuments constructed of such a plastic material required constant
attention and frequent repairs, to keep them in good condition: after a
few years of neglect they became quite disfigured, the houses suffered
a partial dissolution in every storm, the streets were covered with
a coating of fine mud, and the general outline of the buildings and
habitations grew blurred and defaced. Whilst in Egypt the main features
of the towns are still traceable above ground, and are so well preserved
in places that, while excavating them, we are carried away from
the present into the world of the past, the Chaldaean cities, on the
contrary, are so overthrown and seem to have returned so thoroughly to
the dust from which their founders raised them, that the most patient
research and the most enlightened imagination can only imperfectly
reconstitute their arrangement.

The towns were not enclosed within those square or rectangular
enclosures with which the engineers of the Pharaohs fortified their
strongholds. The ground-plan of Uru was an oval, that of Larsam formed
almost a circle upon the soil, while Uruk and Eridu resembled in shape
a sort of irregular trapezium. The curtain of the citadel looked down on
the plain from a great height, so that the defenders were almost out
of reach of the arrows or slings of the besiegers: the remains of the
ramparts at Uruk at the present day are still forty to fifty feet
high, and twenty or more feet in thickness at the top. Narrow turrets
projected at intervals of every fifty feet along the face of the wall:
the excavations have not been sufficiently pursued to permit of our
seeing what system of defence was applied to the entrances. The area
described by these cities was often very large, but the population
in them was distributed very unequally; the temples in the different
quarters formed centres around which were clustered the dwellings of the
inhabitants, sometimes densely packed, and elsewhere thinly scattered.
The largest and richest of these temples was usually reserved for the
principal deity, whose edifices were being continually decorated by
the ruling princes, and the extent of whose ruins still attracts the
traveller. The walls, constructed and repaired with bricks stamped
with the names of lords of the locality, contain in themselves alone an
almost complete history. Did Urbau, we may ask, found the ziggurat of
Nannar in Uru? We meet with his bricks at the base of the most ancient
portions of the building, and we moreover learn, from cylinders
unearthed not far from it, that “for Nannar, the powerful bull of Anu,
the son of Bel, his King, Urbau, the brave hero, King of Uru, had built
E-Timila, his favourite temple.” The bricks of his son Dungi are found
mixed with his own, while here and there other bricks belonging to
subsequent kings, with cylinders, cones, and minor objects, strewn
between the courses, mark restorations at various later periods. What
is true of one Chaldaean city is equally true of all of them, and the
dynasties of Uruk and of Lagash, like those of Uru, can be reconstructed
from the revelations of their brickwork. The lords of heaven promised
to the lords of the earth, as a reward of their piety, both glory and
wealth in this life, and an eternal fame after death: they have, indeed,
kept their word. The majority of the earliest Chaldaean heroes would be
unknown to us, were it not for the witness of the ruined sanctuaries
which they built, and that which they did in the service of their
heavenly patrons has alone preserved their names from oblivion. Their
most extravagant devotion, however, cost them less money and effort than
that of the Pharaohs their contemporaries. While the latter had to
bring from a distance, even from the remotest parts of the desert, the
different kinds of stone which they considered worthy to form part of
the decoration of the houses of their gods, the Chaldaean kings gathered
up outside their very doors the principal material for their buildings:
should they require any other accessories, they could obtain, at
the worst, hard stone for their statues and thresholds in Magan and
Milukhkha, and beams of cedar and cypress in the forests of the Amanus
and the Upper Tigris. Under these conditions a temple was soon erected,
and its construction did not demand centuries of continuous labour, like
the great limestone and granite sanctuaries of Egypt: the same ruler who
laid the first brick, almost always placed the final one, and succeeding
generations had only to keep the building in ordinary repair, without
altering its original plan. The work of construction was in almost
every case carried out all at one time, designed and finished from
the drawings of one architect, and bears traces but rarely of those
deviations from the earlier plans which sometimes make the comprehension
of the Theban temples so difficult a matter: if the state of decay of
certain parts, or more often inadequate excavation, frequently prevent
us from appreciating their details, we can at least reinstate their
general outline with tolerable accuracy.

While the Egyptian temple was spread superficially over a large area,
the Chalaean temple strove to attain as high an elevation as possible.
The “ziggurats,” whose angular profile is a special characteristic of
the landscapes of the Euphrates, were composed of several immense cubes,
piled up on one another, and diminishing in size up to the small shrine
by which they were crowned and wherein the god himself was supposed to
dwell. There are two principal types of these ziggurats. In the first,
for which the builders of Lower Chaldaea showed a marked preference,
the vertical axis, common to all the superimposed stories, did not pass
through the centre of the rectangle which served as the base of the
whole building; it was carried back and placed near to one of the narrow
ends of the base, so that the back elevation of the temple rose abruptly
in steep narrow ledges above the plain, while the terraces of the front
broadened out into wide platforms. The stories are composed of solid
blocks of crude brick; up to the present, at least, no traces of
internal chambers have been found.* The chapel on the summit could not
contain more than one apartment: an altar stood before the door, and
access to it was obtained by a straight external staircase, interrupted
at each terrace by a more or less spacious landing.** The second type
of temple frequently found in Northern Chaldaea was represented by a
building on a square base with seven stories, all of equal height,
connected by one or two lateral staircases, having on the summit, the
pavilion of the god; this is the “terraced tower” which excited the
admiration of the Greeks at Babylon, and of which the temple of Bel was
the most remarkable example. The ruins of it still exist, but it has
been so frequently and so completely restored in the course of ages,
that it is impossible to say how much now remains of the original
construction. We know of several examples, however, of the other type
of ziggurat--one at Uru, another at Bridu, a third at Uruk, without
mentioning those which have not as yet been methodically explored. None
of them rises directly from the surface of the ground, but they are all
built on a raised platform, which consequently places the foundations of
the temple nearly on a level with the roofs of the surrounding houses.
The raised platform of the temple of Nannar at Uru still measures 20
feet in height, and its four angles are orientated exactly to the four
cardinal points. Its facade was approached by an inclined plane, or by
a flight of low steps, and the summit, which was surrounded by a low
balustrade, was paved with enormous burnt bricks. On this terrace,
processions at solemn festivals would have ample space to perform their
evolutions. The lower story of the temple occupies a parallelogram of
198 feet in length by 173 feet in width, and rises about 27 feet in
height.

     * Perrot-Ohipiez admit that between the first and second
     story there was a sort of plinth seven feet in height which
     corresponded to the foundation platform below the first
     story. It appears to me, as it did to Loftus, that the slope
     which now separates the two vertical masses of brickwork “is
     accidental, and owes its existence to the destruction of the
     upper portion of the second story.” Taylor mentions only two
     stories, and evidently considers the slope in question to be
     a bank of rubbish.

     ** Perrot-Chipiez place the staircase leading from the
     ground-level to the terrace inside the building--“an
     arrangement which would have the advantage of not
     interfering with the outline of this immense platform, and
     would not detract from the strength and solidity of its
     appearance;” Reber proposes a different combination. At Uru,
     the whole staircase projects in front of the platform and
     “loads up to the edge of the basement of the second story,”
      then continues as an inclined plane from the edge of the
     first story to the terrace of the second, forming one single
     staircase, perhaps of the same width as this second story,
     leading from the base to the summit of the building.

[Illustration: 134.jpg THE TEMPLE OF NANNAR AT URU, APPROXIMATELY
RESTORED.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The restoration differs from that
     proposed by Perrot-Chipiez. I have made it by working out
     the description taken down on the spot by Taylor.

The central mass of crude brick has preserved its casing of red tiles,
cemented with bitumen, almost intact up to the top; it is
strengthened by buttresses--nine on the longer and six on the shorter
sides--projecting about a foot, which relieve its rather bare surface.
The second story rises to the height of only 20 feet above, the first,
and when intact could not have been more than 26 to 30 feet high.* Many
bricks bearing the stamp of Dungi are found among the materials used in
the latest restoration, which took place about the VIth century before
our era; they have a smooth surface, are broken here and there by
air-holes, and their very simplicity seems to bear witness to the fact
that Nabonidos confined himself to the task of merely restoring things
to the state in which the earlier kings of Uru had left them.**

[Illustration: 135.jpg THE TEMPLE OF URU IN ITS PRESENT STATE, ACCORDING
TO TAYLOR]

     Facsimile, by Faucher-Gudin, of the drawing published by
     Taylor.


     * At the present time 14 feet high, plus 5 feet of rubbish,
     119 feet long, 75 feet wide (Loftus, _Travels and Researches
     in Olialdsea and Susiana_, p. 129).

     ** The cylinders of Nabonidos describing the restoration of
     the temple were found at the four angles of the second story
     by Taylor.

Till within the last century, traces of a third story to this temple
might have been distinguished; unlike the lower ones, it was not of
solid brickwork, but contained at least one chamber: this was the Holy
of Holies, the sanctuary of Nannar. The external walls were covered with
pale blue enamelled tiles, having a polished surface. The interior
was panelled with cedar or cypress--rare woods procured as articles
of commerce from the peoples of the North and West; this woodwork was
inlaid in parts with thin leaves of gold, alternating with panels of
mosaics composed of small pieces of white marble, alabaster, onyx, and
agate, cut and polished.

[Illustration: 136.jpg FURTHER VIEW OF THE TEMPLE OF URU]

     In Its Present State, According To Loftus. Drawn by
     Bouchier, from Loftus.

Here stood the statue of Nannar, one of those stiff and conventionalized
figures in the traditional pose handed down from generation to
generation, and which lingered even in the Chaldaean statues of Greek
times. The spirit of the god dwelt within it in the same way as the
double resided in the Egyptian idols, and from thence he watched over
the restless movements of the people below, the noise of whose turmoil
scarcely reached him at that elevation. The gods of the Euphrates, like
those of the Nile, constituted a countless multitude of visible and
invisible beings, distributed into tribes and empires throughout all the
regions of the universe. A particular function or occupation formed,
so to speak, the principality of each one, in which he worked with an
indefatigable zeal, under the orders of his respective prince or king;
but, whereas in Egypt they were on the whole friendly to man, or at the
best indifferent in regard to him, in Chaldaea they for the most part
pursued him with an implacable hatred, and only seemed to exist in order
to destroy him. These monsters of alarming aspect, armed with knives and
lances, whom the theologians of Heliopolis and Thebes confined within
the caverns of Hades in the depths of eternal darkness, were believed
by the Chaldaeans to be let loose in broad daylight over the earth,--such
were the “gallu” and the “mas-kim,” the “alu” and the “utukku,” besides
a score of other demoniacal tribes bearing curious and mysterious names.

[Illustration: 137.jpg Lion-headed genius.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a small terra-cotta figure of
     the Assyrian period, and now in the Louvre. It was one of
     the figures buried under the threshold of one of the gates
     of the town at Khorsabad, to keep off baleful influences.

Some floated in the air and presided over the unhealthy winds. The
South-West Wind, the most cruel of them all, stalked over the solitudes
of Arabia, whence he suddenly issued during the most oppressive months
of the year: he collected round him as he passed the malarial vapours
given off by the marshes under the heat of the sun, and he spread them
over the country, striking down in his violence not only man and beast,
but destroying harvests, pasturage, and even trees.

[Illustration: 138.jpg THE SOUTH-WEST WIND]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the bronze original now in the
     Louvre. The latter museum and the British Museum possess
     several other figures of the same demon.

The genii of fevers and madness crept in silently everywhere, insidious
and traitorous as they were. The plague alternately slumbered or made
furious onslaughts among crowded populations. Imps haunted the houses,
goblins wandered about the water’s edge, ghouls lay in wait for
travellers in unfrequented places, and the dead quitting their tombs in
the night stole stealthily among the living to satiate themselves with
their blood. The material shapes attributed to these murderous beings
were supposed to convey to the eye their perverse and ferocious
characters. They were represented as composite creatures in whom the
body of a man would be joined grotesquely to the limbs of animals in the
most unexpected combinations. They worked in as best they could, birds’
claws, fishes’ scales, a bull’s tail, several pairs of wings, the head
of a lion, vulture, hyaena, or wolf; when they left the creature a human
head, they made it as hideous and distorted as possible. The South-West
Wind was distinguished from all the rest by the multiplicity of the
incongruous elements of which his person was composed. His dog-like body
was supported upon two legs terminating in eagle’s claws; in addition to
his arms, which were furnished with sharp talons, he had four outspread
wings, two of which fell behind him, while the other two rose up and
surrounded his head; he had a scorpion’s tail, a human face with large
goggle-eyes, bushy eyebrows, fleshless cheeks, and retreating lips,
showing a formidable row of threatening teeth, while from his flattened
skull protruded the horns of a goat: the entire combination was so
hideous, that it even alarmed the god and put him to flight, when he was
unexpectedly confronted with his own portrait. There was no lack of
good genii to combat this deformed and vicious band. They too
were represented as monsters, but monsters of a fine and noble
bearing,--griffins, winged lions, lion-headed men, and more especially
those splendid human-headed bulls, those “lamassi” crowned with mitres,
whose gigantic statues kept watch before the palace and temple gates.
Between these two races hostility was constantly displayed: restrained
at one point, it broke out afresh at another, and the evil genii,
invariably beaten, as invariably refused to accept their defeat. Man,
less securely armed against them than were the gods, was ever meeting
with them. “Up there, they are howling, here they lie in wait,--they are
great worms let loose by heaven--powerful ones whose clamour rises above
the city--who pour water in torrents from heaven, sons who have come
out of the bosom of the earth.--They twine around the high rafters,
the great rafters, like a crown;--they take their way from house to
house,--for the door cannot stop them, nor bar the way, nor repulse
them,--for they creep like a serpent under the door--they insinuate
themselves like the air between the folding doors,--they separate the
bride from the embraces of the bridegroom,--they snatch the child from
between the knees of the man,--they entice the unwary from out of his
fruitful house,--they are the threatening voice which pursues him from
behind.” Their malice extended even to animals: “They force the raven
to fly away on the wing,--and they make the swallow to escape from its
nest;--they cause the bull to flee, they cause the lamb to flee--they,
the bad demons who lay snares.”

The most audacious among them did not fear at times to attack the gods
of light; on one occasion, in the infancy of the world, they had sought
to dispossess them and reign in their stead. Without any warning they
had climbed the heavens, and fallen upon Sin, the moon-god; they had
repulsed Shamash, the Sun, and Eamman, both of whom had come to the
rescue; they had driven Ishtar and Anu from their thrones: the whole
firmament would have become a prey to them, had not Bel and Nusku, Ea
and Merodach, intervened at the eleventh hour, and succeeded in hurling
them down to the earth, after a terrible battle. They never completely
recovered from this reverse, and the gods raised up as rivals to them a
class of friendly genii--the “Igigi,” who were governed by five heavenly
Anunnas.

[Illustration: 141.jpg SIN DELIVERED BY MERODACH FROM THE ASSAULT OF THE
SEVEN EVIL SPIRITS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian intaglio published
     by Layard.

The earthly Anunnas, the Anunnaki, had as their chiefs seven sons
of Bel, with bodies of lions, tigers, and serpents: “the sixth was a
tempestuous wind which obeyed neither god nor king,--the seventh, a
whirlwind, a desolating storm which destroys everything,”--“Seven,
seven,--in the depth of the abyss of waters they are seven,--and
destroyers of heaven they are seven.--They have grown up in the depths
of the abyss, in the palace;--males they are not, females they are
not,--they are storms which pass quickly.--They take no wife, they give
birth to no child,--they know neither compassion nor kindness,--they
listen to no prayer nor supplication.--As wild horses they are born in
the mountains,--they are the enemies of Ba,--they are the agents of the
gods;--they are evil, they are evil--and they are seven, they are seven,
they are twice seven.” Man, if reduced to his own resources, could have
no chance of success in struggling against beings who had almost reduced
the gods to submission. He invoked in his defence the help of the whole
universe, the spirits of heaven and earth, the spirit of Bel and of
Belit, that of Ninib and of Nebo, those of Sin, of Ishtar, and of
Bamman; but Gibir or Gibil, the Lord of Fire, was the most powerful
auxiliary in this incessant warfare. The offspring of night and of dark
waters, the Anunnaki had no greater enemy than fire; whether kindled
on the household hearth or upon the altars, its appearance put them to
flight and dispelled their power.

[Illustration: 142.jpg STRUGGLE BETWEEN A GOOD AND AN EVIL GENIUS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.

“Gibil, renowned hero in the land,--valiant, son of the Abyss, exalted
in the land,--Gibil, thy clear flame, breaking forth,--when it lightens
up the darkness,--assigns to all that bears a name its own destiny.
--The copper and tin, it is thou who dost mix them,--gold and silver,
it is thou who meltest them,--thou art the companion of the goddess
Ninkasi--thou art he who exposes his breast to the nightly enemy!--Cause
then the limbs of man, son of his god, to shine,--make him to be bright
like the sky,--may he shine like the earth,--may he be bright like the
interior of the heavens,--may the evil word be kept far from him,” and
with it the malignant spirits. The very insistence with which help is
claimed against the Anunnaki shows how much their power was dreaded.
The Chaldean felt them everywhere about him, and could not move without
incurring the danger of coming into contact with them. He did not fear
them so much during the day, as the presence of the luminary deities in
the heavens reassured him; but the night belonged to them, and he was
open to their attacks. If he lingered in the country at dusk, they were
there, under the hedges, behind walls and trunks of trees, ready to
rush out upon him at every turn. If he ventured after sundown into the
streets of his village or town, he again met with them quarrelling with
dogs over the offal on a rubbish heap, crouched in the shelter of a
doorway, lying hidden in corners where the shadows were darkest. Even
when barricaded within his house, under the immediate protection of
his domestic idols, these genii still threatened him and left him not a
moment’s repose.* The number of them was so great that he was unable to
protect himself adequately from all of them: when he had disarmed the
greater portion of them, there were always several remaining against
whom he had forgotten to take necessary precautions. What must have
been the total of the subordinate genii, when, towards the IXth century
before our era, the official census of the invisible beings stated
the number of the great gods in heaven and earth to be sixty-five
thousand!**

     * The presence of the evil spirits everywhere is shown,
     among other magical formulas, by the incantation in
     Rawlinson, _Cun, Ins. W. As._, vol. ii. pi. 18, where we
     find enumerated at length the places from which they are to
     be kept out. The magician closes the house to them, the
     hedge which surrounds the house, the yoke laid upon the
     oxen, the tomb, the prison, the well, the furnace, the
     shade, the vase for libation, the ravines, the valleys, the
     mountains, the door.

     ** Assurnazirpal, King of Assyria, speaks in one of his
     inscriptions of these sixty-five thousand great gods of
     heaven and earth.

We are often much puzzled to say what these various divinities, whose
names we decipher on the monuments, could possibly have represented. The
sovereigns of Lagash addressed their prayers to Ningirsu, the valiant
champion of Inlil; to Ninursag, the lady of the terrestrial mountain:
to Ninsia, the lord of fate; to the King Ninagal; to Inzu, of whose real
name no one has an idea; to Inanna, the queen of battles; to Pasag, to
Galalim, to Dunshagana, to Ninmar, to Ningishzida. Gudea raised temples
to them in all the cities over which his authority extended, and he
devoted to these pious foundations a yearly income out of his domain
land or from the spoils of his wars. “Gudea, the ‘vicegerent’ of
Lagash, after having built the temple Ininnu for Ningirsu, constructed a
treasury; a house decorated with sculptures, such as no ‘vicegerent’
had ever before constructed for Ningirsu; he constructed it for him,
he wrote his name in it, he made in it all that was needful, and he
executed faithfully all the words from the mouth of Ningirsu.” The
dedication of these edifices was accompanied with solemn festivals, in
which the whole population took an active part. “During seven years no
grain was ground, and the maidservant was the equal of her mistress, the
slave walked beside his master, and in my town the weak rested by
the side of the strong.” Henceforward Gudea watched scrupulously lest
anything impure should enter and mar the sanctity of the place.

[Illustration: 145.jpg THE GOD NINGIBSU, PATRON OF LAGASH.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec. The attribution
     of this figure to Ningirsu is very probable, but not wholly
     certain.

Those we have enumerated were the ancient Sumerian divinities, but the
characteristics of most of them would have been lost to us, had we
not learned, by means of other documents, to what gods the Semites
assimilated them, gods who are better known and who are represented
under a less barbarous aspect. Ningirsu, the lord of the division of
Lagash which was called Girsu, was identified with Ninib; Inlil is Bel,
Ninursag is Beltis, Inzu is Sin, Inanna is Ishtar, and so on with the
rest. The cultus of each, too, was not a local cultus, confined to some
obscure corner of the country; they all were rulers over the whole of
Chaldaea, in the north as in the south, at Uruk, at Urn, at Larsam, at
Nipur, even in Babylon itself. Inlil was the ruler of the earth and of
Hades, Babbar was the sun, Inzu the moon, Inanna-Antmit the morning and
evening star and the goddess or love, at a time when two distinct
religious and two rival groups of gods existed side by side on the banks
of the Euphrates. The Sumerian language is for us, at the present day,
but a collection of strange names, of whose meaning and pronunciation we
are often ignorant. We may well ask what beings and beliefs were
originally hidden under these barbaric combinations of syllables which
are constantly recurring in the inscriptions of the oldest dynasties,
such as Pasag, Dunshagana, Dumuzi-. Zuaba, and a score of others. The
priests of subsequent times claimed to define exactly the attributes of
each of them, and probably their statements are, in the main, correct.
But it is impossible for us to gauge the motives which determined the
assimilation of some of these divinities, the fashion in which it was
carried out, the mutual concessions which Semite and Sumerian must have
made before they could arrive at an understanding, and before the
primitive characteristics of each deity were softened down or entirely
effaced in the process. Many of these divine personages, such as Ea,
Merodach, Ishtar, are so completely transformed, that we may well ask to
which of the two peoples they owed their origin. The Semites finally
gained the ascendency over their rivals, and the Sumerian gods from
thenceforward preserved an independent existence only in connection with
magic, divination, and the science of foretelling events, and also in
the formulas of exorcists and physicians, to which the harshness of
their names lent a greater weight. Elsewhere it was Bel and Sin, Shamash
and Eamman, who were universally worshipped, but a Bel, a Sin, a
Shamash, who still betrayed traces of their former connection with the
Sumerian Inlil and Inzu, with Babbar and Mermer. In whatever language,
however, they were addressed, by whatever name they were called upon,
they did not fail to hear and grant a favourable reply to the appeals of
the faithful.

Whether Sumerian or Semitic, the gods, like those of Egypt, were not
abstract personages, guiding in a metaphysical fashion the forces of
nature. Each of them contained in himself one of the principal elements
of which our universe is composed,--earth, water, sky, sun, moon, and
the stars which moved around the terrestrial mountain. The succession of
natural phenomena with them was not the result of unalterable laws; it
was due entirely to a series of voluntary acts, accomplished by beings
of different grades of intelligence and power. Every part of the great
whole is represented by a god, a god who is a man, a Chaldaean, who,
although of a finer and more lasting nature than other Chaldaeans,
possesses nevertheless the same instincts and is swayed by the same
passions. He is, as a rule, wanting in that somewhat lithe grace of
form, and in that rather easy-going good-nature, which were the primary
characteristics of the Egyptian gods: the Chaldaean divinity has the
broad shoulders, the thick-set figure and projecting muscles of the
people over whom he rules; he has their hasty and violent temperament,
their coarse sensuality, their cruel and warlike propensities, their
boldness in conceiving undertakings, and their obstinate tenacity in
carrying them out. Their goddesses are modelled on the tyra of the
Chaldaen women, or, more properly speaking, on that of their queens. The
majority of them do not quit the harem, and have no other ambition than
to become speedily the mother of a numerous offspring. Those who openly
reject the rigid constraints of such a life, and who seek to share the
rank of the gods, seem to lose all self-restraint when they put off
the veil: like Ishtar, they exchange a life of severe chastity for
the lowest debauchery, and they subject their followers to the same
irregular life which they themselves have led. “Every woman born in the
country must enter once during her lifetime the enclosure of the temple
of Aphrodite, must there sit down and unite herself to a stranger. Many
who are wealthy are too proud to mix with the rest, and repair thither
in closed chariots, followed by a considerable train of slaves. The
greater number seat themselves on the sacred pavement, with a cord
twisted about their heads,--and there is always a great crowd there,
coming and going; the women being divided by ropes into long lanes, down
which strangers pass to make their choice. A woman who has once taken
her place here cannot return home until a stranger has thrown into her
lap a silver coin, and has led her away with him beyond the limits of
the sacred enclosure. As he throws the money he pronounces these words:
‘May the goddess Mylitta make thee happy! ‘--Now, among the Assyrians,
Aphrodite is called Mylitta. The silver coin may be of any value, but
none may refuse it, that is forbidden by the law, for, once thrown, it
is sacred. The woman follows the first man who throws her the money, and
repels no one. When once she has accompanied him, and has thus satisfied
the goddess, she returns to her home, and from thenceforth, however
large the sum offered to her, she will yield to no one. The women who
are tall or beautiful soon return to their homes, but those who are ugly
remain a long time before they are able to comply with the law; some
of them are obliged to wait three or four years within the enclosure.” *
This custom still existed in the Vth century before our era, and the
Greeks who visited Babylon about that time found it still in full force.

     * Herodotus, i. 199: of. Stabo, xvi. p. 1058, who probably
     has merely quoted this passage from Herodotus, or some
     writer who copied from Herodotus. We meet with a direct
     allusion to this same custom in the Bible, in the _Book of
     Barueh_; “The women also, with cords about them, sitting in
     the ways, burn bran for perfume; but if any of them, drawn
     by some that passeth by, lie with him, she reproacheth her
     fellow, that she was not thought as worthy as herself, nor
     her cord broken.”

The gods, who had begun by being the actual material of the element
which was their attribute, became successively the spirit of it, then
its ruler.* They continued at first to reside in it, but in the course
of time they were separated from it, and each was allowed to enter the
domain of another, dwell in it, and even command it, as they could
have done in their own, till finally the greater number of them were
identified with the firmament.

     * Pk. Lbnoemant, _La Magie chez les Chaldeens_, p. 144, et
     seq., where the author shows how Anu, after having at
     first been the Heaven itself, the starry vault stretched
     above the earth, became successively the Spirit of Heaven
     (_Zi-ana_), and finally the supreme ruler of the world:
     according to Lenormant, it was the Semites in particular who
     transformed the primitive spirit into an actual god-king.

Bel, the lord of the earth, and Ea, the ruler of the waters, passed info
the heavens, which did not belong to them, and took their places beside
Ami: the pathways were pointed out which they had made for themselves
across the celestial vault, in order to inspect their kingdoms from the
exalted heights to which they had been raised; that of Bel was in the
Tropic of Cancer, that of Ea in the Tropic of Capricorn. They gathered
around them all the divinities who could easily be abstracted from the
function or object to which they were united, and they thus constituted
a kind of divine aristocracy, comprising all the most powerful
beings who guided the fortunes of the world. The number of them was
considerable, for they reckoned seven supreme and magnificent gods,
fifty great gods of heaven and earth, three hundred celestial
spirits, and six hundred terrestrial spirits. Each of them deputed
representatives here below, who received the homage of mankind for him,
and signified to them his will. The god revealed himself in dreams to
his seers and imparted to them the course of coming events,* or, in
some cases, inspired them suddenly and spoke by their mouth: their
utterances, taken down and commented on by their assistants, were
regarded as infallible oracles. But the number of mortal men possessing
adequate powers, and gifted with sufficiently acute senses to bear
without danger the near presence of a god, was necessarily limited;
communications were, therefore, more often established by means of
various objects, whose grosser substance lessened for human intelligence
and flesh and blood the dangers of direct contact with an immortal. The
statues hidden in the recesses of the temples or erected on the summits
of the “ziggurats” became imbued, by virtue of their consecration, with
the actual body of the god whom they represented, and whose name was
written either on the base or garment of the statue.** The sovereign
who dedicated them, summoned them to speak in the days to come, and from
thenceforth they spoke: when they were interrogated according to the
rite instituted specially for each one, that part of the celestial soul,
which by means of the prayers had been attracted to and held captive
by the statue, could not refuse to reply.** Were there for this purpose
special images, as in Egypt, which were cleverly contrived so as to
emit sounds by the pulling of a string by the hidden prophet? Voices
resounded at night in the darkness of the sanctuaries, and particularly
when a king came there to prostrate himself for the purpose of learning
the future: his rank alone, which raised him halfway to heaven, prepared
him to receive the word from on high by the mouth of the image.

     * A prophetic dream is mentioned upon, one of the statues of
     Telloh. In the records of Assurbanipal we find mention of
     several “seers”--_shabru_--one of whom predicts the
     general triumph of the king over his enemies, and of whom
     another announces in the name of Ishtar the victory over the
     Elamites and encourages the Assyrian army to cross a torrent
     swollen by rains, while a third sees in a dream the defeat
     and death of the King of Elam. These “seers” are mentioned in
     the texts of Gudea with the prophetesses “who tell the
     message” of the gods.

     ** In a formula drawn up against evil spirits, for the
     purpose of making talismanic figures for the protection of
     houses, it is said of Merodach that he “inhabits the image”
      --_ashibu salam_--which has been made of him by the magician.

     ** This is what Gudea says, when, describing his own statue
     which he had placed in the temple of Telloh, he adds that
     “he gave the order to the statue: ‘To the statue of my king,
     speak!’” The statue of the king, inspired by that of the
     god, would thenceforth speak when interrogated according to
     the formularies. Cf. what is said of the divine or royal
     statues dedicated in the temples of Egypt, vol. i. pp. 169,
     170. A number of oracles regularly obtained in the time of
     Asarhaddon and Assurbanabal have been published by Knudtzon.

[Illustration: 152.jpg THE ADORATION OF THE MACE AND THE WHIP.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the Chaldaean intaglio
     reproduced in Heuzey-Sarzec, _Decouvertes en Chaldee_, pl.
     30bis, No. 13b.

More frequently a priest, accustomed from childhood to the office,
possessed the privilege of asking the desired questions and of
interpreting to the faithful the various signs by means of which the
divine will was made known. The spirit of the god inspired, moreover,
whatever seemed good to him, and frequently entered into objects
where we should least have expected to find it. It animated stones,
particularly such as fell from heaven; also trees, as, for example, the
tree of Eridu which pronounced oracles; and, besides the battle-mace,
with a granite head fixed on a wooden handle, the axe of Ramman, lances
made on the model of Gilgames’ fairy javelin, which came and went at its
master’s orders, without needing to be touched. Such objects, when it
was once ascertained that they were imbued with the divine spirit, were
placed upon the altar and worshipped with as much veneration as were the
statues themselves.

[Illustration: 153.jpg A protecting amulet.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the terra-cotta figurine of
     Assyrian date now in the Louvre.

Animals never became objects of habitual worship as in Egypt: some of
them, however, such as the bull and lion, were closely allied to the
gods, and birds unconsciously betrayed by their flight or cries the
secrets of futurity.* In addition to all these, each family possessed
its household gods, to whom its members recited prayers and poured
libations night and morning, and whose statues set up over the domestic
hearth defended it from the snares of the evil ones.** The State
religion, which all the inhabitants of the same city, from the king down
to the lowest slave, were solemnly bound to observe, really represented
to the Chaldaeans but a tithe of their religious life: it included some
dozen gods, no doubt the most important, but it more or less left out of
account all the others, whose anger, if aroused by neglect, might become
dangerous. The private devotion of individuals supplemented the State
religion by furnishing worshippers for most of the neglected divinities,
and thus compensated for what was lacking in the official public worship
of the community.

     * Animal forms are almost always restricted either to the
     genii, the constellations, or the secondary forms of the
     greater divinities: Ea, however, is represented by a man
     with a fish’s tail, or as a man clothed with a fish-skin,
     which would appear to indicate that at the outset he was
     considered to be an actual fish.

     ** The images of these gods acted as amulets, and the fact
     of their presence alone repelled the evil spirits. At
     Khorsabad they were found buried under the threshold of the
     city gates. A bilingual tablet in the British Museum has
     preserved for us the formula of consecration which was
     supposed to invest these protecting statuettes with divine
     powers.

If the idea of uniting all these divine beings into a single supreme
one, who would combine within himself all their elements and the whole
of their powers, ever for a moment crossed the mind of some Chaldaean
theologian, it never spread to the people as a whole. Among all the
thousands of tablets or inscribed stones on which we find recorded
prayers and magical formulas, we have as yet discovered no document
treating of the existence of a supreme god, or even containing the
faintest allusion to a divine unity. We meet indeed with many passages
in which this or that divinity boasts of his power, eloquently
depreciating that of his rivals, and ending his discourse with the
injunction to worship him alone: “Man who shall come after, trust
in Nebo, trust in no other god!” The very expressions which are used,
commanding future races to abandon the rest of the immortals in
favour of Nebo, prove that even those who prided themselves on being
worshippers of one god realized how far they were from believing in the
unity of God. They strenuously asserted that the idol of their choice
was far superior to many others, but it never occurred to them to
proclaim that he had absorbed them all into himself, and that he
remained alone in his glory, contemplating the world, his creature. Side
by side with those who expressed this belief in Nebo, an inhabitant
of Babylon would say as much and more of Merodach, the patron of
his birthplace, without, however, ceasing to believe in the actual
independence and royalty of Nebo. “When thy power manifests itself, who
can withdraw himself from it?--Thy word is a powerful net which thou
spreadest in heaven and over the earth:--it falls upon the sea, and
the sea retires,--it falls upon the plain, and the fields make great
mourning,--it falls upon the upper waters of the Euphrates, and the word
of Merodach stirs up the flood in them.--O Lord, thou art sovereign,
who can resist thee?--Merodach, among the gods who bear a name, thou art
sovereign.” Merodach is for his worshippers the king of the gods, he is
not the sole god. Each of the chief divinities received in a similar
manner the assurance of his omnipotence, but, for all that, his most
zealous followers never regarded them as the only God, beside whom there
was none other, and whose existence and rule precluded those of any
other. The simultaneous elevation of certain divinities to the supreme
rank had a reactionary influence on the ideas held with regard to the
nature of each. Anu, Bel, and Ea, not to mention others, had enjoyed
at the outset but a limited and incomplete personality, confined to a
single concept, and were regarded as possessing only such attributes as
were indispensable to the exercise of their power within a prescribed
sphere, whether in heaven, or on the earth, or in the waters; as each in
his turn gained the ascendency over his rivals, he became invested with
the qualities which were exercised by the others in their own domain.
His personality became enlarged, and instead of remaining merely a
god of heaven or earth or of the waters, he became god of all three
simultaneously. Anu reigned in the province of Bel or of Ea as he ruled
in his own; Bel joined to his own authority that of Anu and Ea; Ea
treated Anu and Bel with the same absence of ceremony which they had
shown to him, and added their supremacy to his own. The personality
of each god was thenceforward composed of many divers elements: each
preserved a nucleus of his original being, but superadded to this were
the peculiar characteristics of all the gods above whom he had been
successively raised. Anu took to himself somewhat of the temperaments
of Bel and of Ea, and the latter in exchange borrowed from him
many personal traits. The same work of levelling which altered the
characteristics of the Egyptian divinities, and transformed them
little by little into local variants of Osiris and the Sun, went on as
vigorously among the Chaldaean gods: those who were incarnations of
the earth, the waters, the stars, or the heavens, became thenceforth
so nearly allied to each other that we are tempted to consider them
as being doubles of a single god, worshipped under different names
in different localities. Their primitive forms can only be clearly
distinguished when they are stripped of the uniform in which they are
all clothed.

The sky-gods and the earth-gods had been more numerous at the outset
than they were subsequently. We recognize as such Anu, the immovable
firmament, and the ancient Bel, the lord of men and of the soil on which
they live, and into whose bosom they return after, death; but there
were others, who in historic times had partially or entirely lost their
primitive character,--such as Nergal, Ninib, Dumuzi; or, among the
goddesses, Damkina, Esharra, and even Ishtar herself, who, at the
beginning of their existence, had represented only the earth, or one
of its most striking aspects. For instance, Nergal and Ninib were the
patrons of agriculture and protectors of the soil, Dumuzi was the
ground in spring whose garment withered at the first approach of summer,
Damkina was the leafy mould in union with fertilizing moisture, Esharra
was the field whence sprang the crops, Ishtar was the clod which again
grew green after the heat of the dog days and the winter frosts. All
these beings had been forced to submit in a greater or less degree to
the fate which among most primitive races awaits those older earth-gods,
whose manifestations are usually too vague and shadowy to admit of their
being grasped or represented by any precise imagery without limiting and
curtailing their spheres. New deities had arisen of a more definite and
tangible kind, and hence more easily understood, and having a real or
supposed province which could be more easily realized, such as the sun,
the moon, and the fixed or wandering stars. The moon is the measure of
time; it determines the months, leads the course of the years, and the
entire life of mankind and of great cities depends upon the regularity
of its movements: the Chaldaeans, therefore, made it, or rather the
spirit which animated it, the father and king of the gods; but
its suzerainty was everywhere a conventional rather than an actual
superiority, and the sun, which in theory was its vassal, attracted more
worshippers than the pale and frigid luminary. Some adored the sun under
its ordinary title of Shamash, corresponding to the Egyptian Ra; others
designated it as Merodach, Ninib, Nergal, Dumuzi, not to mention other
less usual appellations. Nergal in the beginning had nothing in common
with Ninib, and Merodach differed alike from Shamash, Ninib, Nergal,
and Dumuzi; but the same movement which instigated the fusion of so many
Egyptian divinities of diverse nature, led the gods of the Chaldaeans to
divest themselves little by little of their individuality and to lose
themselves in the sun. Each one at first became a complete sun, and
united in himself all the innate virtues of the sun--its brilliancy
and its dominion over the world, its gentle and beneficent heat, its
fertilizing warmth, its goodness and justice, its emblematic character
of truth and peace; besides the incontestable vices which darken certain
phases of its being--the fierceness of its rays at midday and in summer,
the inexorable strength of its will, its combative temperament, its
irresistible harshness and cruelty. By degrees they lost this uniform
character, and distributed the various attributes among themselves. If
Shamash continued to be the sun in general, Ninib restricted himself,
after the example of the Egyptian Harmakhis, to being merely the rising
and setting sun, the sun on the two horizons. Nergal became the feverish
and destructive summer sun.* Merodach was transformed into the youthful
sun of spring and early morning;** Dumuzi, like Merodach, became the sun
before the summer. Their moral qualities naturally were affected by the
process of restriction which had been applied to their physical being,
and the external aspect now assigned to each in accordance with their
several functions differed considerably from that formerly attributed
to the unique type from which they had sprung. Ninib was represented as
valiant, bold, and combative; he was a soldier who dreamed but of
battle and great feats of arms. Nergal united a crafty fierceness to
his bravery: not content with being lord of battles, he became the
pestilence which breaks out unexpectedly in a country, the death which
comes like a thief, and carries off his prey before there is time
to take up arms against him. Merodach united wisdom with courage and
strength: he attacked the wicked, protected the good, and used his power
in the cause of order and justice. A very ancient legend, which was
subsequently fully developed among the Canaanites, related the story of
the unhappy passion of Ishtar for Dumuzi. The goddess broke out yearly
into a fresh frenzy, but the tragic death of the hero finally moderated
the ardour of her devotion. She wept distractedly for him, went to beg
the lords of the infernal regions for his return, and brought him back
triumphantly to the earth: every year there was a repetition of the same
passionate infatuation, suddenly interrupted by the same mourning. The
earth was united to the young sun with every recurring spring, and under
the influence of his caresses became covered with verdure; then followed
autumn and winter, and the sun, grown old, sank into the tomb, from
whence his mistress had to call him up, in order to plunge afresh with
him by a common impulse into the joys and sorrows of another year.

     * The solar character of Nergal, at least in later times, is
     admitted, but with restrictions, by all Assyriologists. The
     evident connection between him and Ninib, of which we have
     proofs, was the ground of Delitzsch’s theory that he was
     likewise the burning and destructive sun, and also of
     Jensen’s analogous concept of a midday and summer sun.

     ** Pr. Lenormant seems to have been the first to distinguish
     in Merodach, besides the god of the planet Jupiter, a solar
     personage. This notion, which has been generally admitted by
     most Assyriologists, has been defined with greater
     exactitude by Jensen, who is inclined to see in Merodach
     both the morning sun and the spring sun; and this is the
     opinion held at present.

The differences between the gods were all the more accentuated, for the
reason that many who had a common origin were often separated from one
another by, relatively speaking, considerable distances. Having divided
the earth’s surface between them, they formed, as in Egypt, a complete
feudal system, whose chiefs severally took up their residence in a
particular city. Anu was worshipped in Uruk, Enlil-Bel reigned in Nipur,
Eridu belonged to Ea, the lord of the waters. The moon-god, Sin, alone
governed two large fiefs, Uru in the extreme south, and Harran towards
the extreme north-west; Shamash had Larsam and one of the Sipparas for
his dominion, and the other sun-gods were not less well provided for,
Nergal possessing Kutha, Zamama having Kish, Ninib side by side with Bel
reigning in Nipur, while Merodach ruled at Babylon. Each was absolute
master in his own territory, and it is quite exceptional to find two of
them co-regnant in one locality, as were Ninib and Bel at Nipur, or Ea
and Ishtar in Uruk; not that they raised any opposition on principle
to the presence of a stranger divinity in their dominions, but they
welcomed them only under the titles of allies or subjects. Each,
moreover, had fair play, and Nebo or Shamash, after having filled
the _role_ of sovereign at Borsippa or at Larsam, did not consider it
derogatory to his dignity to accept a lower rank in Babylon or at Uru.
Hence all the feudal gods played a double part, and had, as it were,
a double civil portion--that of suzerain in one or two localities, and
that of vassals everywhere else--and this dual condition was the surest
guarantee not only of their prosperity, but of their existence. Sin
would have run great risk of sinking into oblivion if his resources had
been confined to the subventions from his domain temples of Harran and
Uru. Their impoverishment would in such case have brought about his
complete failure: after having enjoyed an existence amid riches and
splendour in the beginning of history, he would have ended his life in a
condition of misery and obscurity. But the sanctuaries erected to him in
the majority of the other cities, the honours which these bestowed upon
him, and the offerings which they made to him, compensated him for the
poverty and neglect which he experienced in his own domains; and he was
thus able to maintain his divine dignity on a suitable footing. All
the gods were, therefore, worshipped by the Chaldeans, and the only
difference among them in this respect arose from the fact that some
exalted one special deity above the others. The gods of the richest and
most ancient principalities naturally enjoyed the greatest popularity.
The greatness of Uru had been the source of Sin’s prestige, and Merodach
owed his prosperity to the supremacy which Babylon had acquired over the
districts of the north. Merodach was regarded as the son of Ba, as the
star which had risen from the abyss to illuminate the world, and to
confer upon mankind the decrees of eternal wisdom. He was proclaimed as
lord--“bilu”--_par excellence_, in comparison with whom all other lords
sank into insignificance, and this title soon procured for him a second,
which was no less widely recognized than the first: he was spoken of
everywhere as the Bel of Babylon, Bel-Merodach--before whom Bel of Nipur
was gradually thrown into the shade. The relations between these feudal
deities were not always pacific: jealousies arose among them like those
which disturbed the cities over which they ruled; they conspired against
each other, and on occasions broke out into open warfare. Instead of
forming a coalition against the evil genii who threatened their rule,
and as a consequence tended to bring everything into jeopardy, they
sometimes made alliances with these malign powers and mutually betrayed
each other. Their history, if we could recover it in its entirety, would
be marked by as violent deeds as those which distinguished the princes
and kings who worshipped them. Attempts were made, however, and that too
from an early date, to establish among them a hierarchy like that which
existed among the great ones of the earth. The faithful, who, instead of
praying to each one separately, preferred to address them all, invoked
them always in the same order: they began with Anu, the heaven, and
followed with Bel, Ea, Sin, Shamash, and Bamman. They divided these six
into two groups of three, one trio consisting of Anu, Bel, and Ea, the
other of Sin, Shamash, and Bamman. All these deities were associated
with Southern Chaldoa, and the system which grouped them must have taken
its rise in this region, probably at Uruk, whose patron Anu V occupied
the first rank among them. The theologians who classified them in this
manner seem never to have dreamt of explaining, like the authors of
the Heliopolitan Ennead, the successive steps in their creation: these
triads were not, moreover, copies of the human family, consisting of
a father and mother whose marriage brings into the world a new being.
Others had already given an account of the origin of things, and of
Merodach’s struggles with chaos; these theologians accepted the universe
as it was, already made, and contented themselves with summing up its
elements by enumerating the gods which actuated them.* They assigned the
first place to those elements which make the most forcible impression
upon man--beginning with Anu, for the heaven was the god of their city;
following with Bel of Nipur, the earth which from all antiquity has
been associated with the heaven; and concluding with Ea of Eridu, the
terrestrial waters and primordial Ocean whence Anu and Bel, together
with all living creatures, had sprung--Ea being a god whom, had they
not been guided by local vanity, they would have made sovereign lord
of all. Anu owed his supremacy to an historical accident rather than a
religious conception: he held his high position, not by his own merits,
but because the prevailing theology of an early period had been the work
of his priesthood.

     * I know of Sayce only who has endeavoured to explain the
     historical formation of the triads. They are considered by
     him as of Accadian origin, and probably began in an
     astronomical triad, composed of the moon-god, the sun-god,
     and the evening star, Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar; alongside
     this elementary trinity, “the only authentic one to be found
     in the religious faith of primitive Chaldaea,” the Semites
     may have placed the cosmogonical trinity of Anu, Bel, and
     Ea, formed by the reunion of the gods of Uruk, Nipur, and
     Eridu.

The characters of the three personages who formed the supreme triad can
be readily deduced from the nature of the elements which they represent.
Anu is the heaven itself--“ana”--the immense vault which spreads itself
above our heads, clear during the day when glorified by the sun, obscure
and strewn with innumerable star clusters during the night. Afterwards
it becomes the spirit which animates the firmament, or the god which
rules it: he resides in the north towards the pole, and the ordinary
route chosen by him when inspecting his domain is that marked out by our
ecliptic. He occupies the high regions of the universe, sheltered from
winds and tempests, in an atmosphere always serene, and a light always
brilliant. The terrestrial gods and those of middle-space take refuge in
this “heaven of Anu,” when they are threatened by any great danger, but
they dare not penetrate its depths, and stop, shortly after passing its
boundary, on the ledge which supports the vault, where they loll and
howl like dogs. It is but rarely that it may be entered, and then
only by the highly privileged--kings whose destiny marked them out for
admittance, and heroes who have fallen valiantly on the field of
battle. In his remote position on unapproachable summits Anu seems to
participate in the calm and immobility of his dwelling. If he is quick
in forming an opinion and coming to a conclusion, he himself never puts
into execution the plans which he has matured or the judgments which
he has pronounced: he relieves himself of the trouble of acting, by
assigning the duty to Bel-Merodach, Ea, or Eamman, and he often employs
inferior genii to execute his will. “They are seven, the messengers of
Anu their king; it is they who from town to town raise the stormy wind;
they are the south wind which drives mightily in the heavens; they are
the destroying clouds which overturn the heavens; they are the rapid
tempests which bring darkness in the midst of clear day, they roam here
and there with the wicked wind and the ill-omened hurricane.” Anu sends
forth all the gods as he pleases, recalls them again, and then, to make
them his pliant instruments, enfeebles their personality, reducing it to
nothing by absorbing it into his own. He blends himself with them, and
their designations seem to be nothing more than doublets of his own: he
is Anu the Lakhmu who appeared on the first days of creation; Ahu Urash
or Ninib is the sun-warrior of Nipur; and Anu is also the eagle Alala
whom Ishtar enfeebled by her caresses. Anu regarded in this light ceases
to be the god _par excellence_: he becomes the only chief god, and the
idea of authority is so closely attached to his name that the latter
alone is sufficient in common speech to render the idea of God. Bel
would have been entirely thrown into the shade by him, as the earth-gods
generally are by the sky-gods, if it had not been that he was confounded
with his namesake Bel-Merodach of Babylon: to this alliance he owed
to the end the safety of his life, in presence of Anu. Ea was the
most active and energetic member of the triad.* As he represented the
bottomless abyss, the dark waters which had filled the universe until
the day of the creation, there had been attributed to him a complete
knowledge of the past, present, and future, whose germs had lain within
him, as in a womb. The attribute of supreme wisdom was revered in Ea,
the lord of spells and charms, to which gods and men were alike subject:
no strength could prevail against his strength, no voice against his
voice: when once he opened his mouth to give a decision, his will became
law, and no one might gainsay it. If a peril should arise against
which the other gods found themselves impotent, they resorted to
him immediately for help, which was never refused. He had saved
Shamashnapishtirn from the Deluge; every day he freed his votaries from
sickness and the thousand demons which were the causes of it. He was
a potter, and had modelled men out of the clay of the plains. From him
smiths and workers in gold obtained the art of rendering malleable
and of fashioning the metals. Weavers and stone-cutters, gardeners,
husbandmen, and sailors hailed him as their teacher and patron. From his
incomparable knowledge the scribes derived theirs, and physicians and
wizards invoked spirits in his name alone by the virtue of prayers which
he had condescended to teach them.

     * The name of this god was read “Nisrok” by Oppert,
     “Nouah” by Hincks and Lenormant. The true reading is Ia, Ea,
     usually translated “house,” “water-house”; this is a popular
     interpretation which appears to have occurred to the
     Chaldaeans from the values of the signs entering into the
     name of the god. From the outset H. Rawlinson recognized in
     Ea, which he read Hea, Hoa, the divinity presiding over the
     abyss of waters; he compared him with the serpent of Holy
     Scripture, in its relation to the Tree of Knowledge and the
     Tree of Life, and deduced therefrom his character of lord of
     wisdom. His position as lord of the primordial waters, from
     which all things proceeded, clearly denned by Lenormant, is
     now fully recognized. His name was transcribed Aos by
     Damascius, a form which is not easily explained; the most
     probable hypothesis is that of Hommel who considers Aos as a
     shortened form of Iaos = Ia, Ea.

Subordinate to these limitless and vague beings, the theologians placed
their second triad, made up of gods of restricted power and invariable
form. They recognized in the unswerving regularity with which the moon
waxed and waned, or with which the sun rose and set every day, a
proof of their subjection to the control of a superior will, and they
signalized this dependence by making them sons of one or other of the
three great gods. Sin was the offspring of Bel, Shamash of Sin,
Kamman of Anu. Sin was indebted for this primacy among the subordinate
divinities to the preponderating influence which Uru exercised over
Southern Chaldaea. Mar, where Ramman was the chief deity, never emerged
from its obscurity, and Larsam acquired supremacy only many centuries
after its neighbour, and did not succeed in maintaining it for any
length of time. The god of the suzerain city necessarily took precedence
of those of the vassal towns, and when once his superiority was admitted
by the people, he was able to maintain his place in spite of all
political revolutions. Sin was called in Uru, “Uruki,” or “Nannar the
glorious,” and his priests sometimes succeeded in identifying him
with Anu. “Lord, prince of the gods, who alone in heaven and earth is
exalted,--father Nannar, lord of the hosts of heaven, prince of the
gods,--father Nannar, lord, great Anu, prince of the gods,--father
Nannar, lord, moon-god, prince of the gods,--father Nannar, lord of Uni,
prince of the gods....--Lord, thy deity fills the far-off heavens,
like the vast sea, with reverential fear! Master of the earth, thou who
fixest there the boundaries [of the towns] and assignest to them their
names,--father, begetter of gods and men, who establishest for them
dwellings and institutest for them that which is good, who proclaimest
royalty and bestowest the exalted sceptre on those whose destiny was
determined from distant times,--chief, mighty, whose heart is great, god
whom no one can name, whose limbs are steadfast, whose knees never bend,
who preparest the paths of thy brothers the gods....--In heaven, who is
supreme? As for thee, it is thou alone who art supreme! As for thee, thy
decree is made known in heaven, and the Igigi bow their faces!--As for
thee, thy decree is made known upon earth, and the spirits of the abyss
kiss the dust!--As for thee, thy decree blows above like the wind,
and stall and pasture become fertile!--As for thee, thy decree is
accomplished upon earth below, and the grass and green things grow!--As
for thee, thy degree is seen in the cattle-folds and in the lairs of the
wild beasts, and it multiplies living things!--As for thee, thy
decree has called into being equity and justice, and the peoples have
promulgated thy law!--As for thee, thy decree, neither in the far-off
heaven, nor in the hidden depths of the earth, can any one recognize
it!--As for thee, thy decree, who can learn it, who can try conclusions
with it?--O Lord, mighty in heaven, sovereign upon earth, among the gods
thy brothers, thou hast no rival.” Outside Uru and Harran, Sin did not
obtain this rank of creator and ruler of things; he was simply the
moon-god, and was represented in human form, usually accompanied by a
thin crescent, upon which he sometimes stands upright, sometimes appears
with the bust only rising out of it, in royal costume and pose.

[Illustration: 169.jpg THE GOD SUN RECEIVES THE HOMAGE OF TWO
WORSHIPPERS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a heliogravure by Menant.

His mitre is so closely associated with him that it takes his place on
the astrological tablets; the name he bears--“agu”--often indicates
the moon regarded simply as a celestial body and without connotation
of deity. Babbar-Shamash, “the light of the gods, his fathers,” “the
illustrious scion of Sin,” passed the night in the depths of the north,
behind the polished metal walls which shut in the part of the firmament
visible to human eyes.

[Illustration: 170.jpg SHAMASH SETS OUT, IN THE MORNING, FROM THE
INTERIOR OF THE HEAVEN BY THE EASTERN GATE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio of green
     jasper in the Louvre. The original measures about 1 3/10
     inch in height.

As soon as the dawn had opened the gates for him, he rose in the east
all aflame, his club in his hand, and he set forth on his headlong
course over the chain of mountains which surrounds the world;* six hours
later he had attained the limit of his journey towards the south, he
then continued his journey to the west, gradually lessening his heat,
and at length re-entered his accustomed resting-place by the western
gate, there to remain until the succeeding morning. He accomplished his
journey round the earth in a chariot conducted by two charioteers,
and drawn by two vigorous onagers, “whose legs never grew weary;” the
flaming disk which was seen from earth was one of the wheels of his
chariot.**

     * His course along the embankment which runs round the
     celestial vault was the origin of the title, _Line of Union
     between Heaven and Earth_; he moved, in fact, where the
     heavens and the earth come into contact, and appeared to
     weld them into one by the circle of fire which he described.
     Another expression of this idea occurs in the preamble of
     Nergal and Ninib, who were called “the separators”; the
     course of the sun might, in fact, be regarded as separating,
     as well as uniting, the two parts of the universe.

     ** The disk has sometimes four, sometimes eight rays
     inscribed on it, indicating wheels with four or eight spokes
     respectively. Rawlinson supposed “that these two figures
     indicate a distinction between the male and female power of
     the deity, the disk with four rays symbolizing Shamash, the
     orb with eight rays being the emblem of Ai, Gula, or
     Anunit.”

[Illustration: 171.jpg SHAMASH IN HIS SHRINE, HIS EMBLEM BEFORE HIM ON
THE ALTAR.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Rassam. The
     busts of the two deities on the front of the roof of the
     shrine are the two charioteers of the sun; they uphold and
     guide the rayed disk upon the altar. Cf. in the Assyrian
     period the winged disk led with cords by two genii.

As soon as he appeared he was hailed with the chanting of hymns: “O Sun,
thou appearest on the foundation of the heavens,--thou drawest back the
bolts which bar the scintillating heavens, thou openest the gate of
the heavens! O Sun, thou raisest thy head above the earth,--Sun, thou
extendest over the earth the brilliant vaults of the heavens.”
 The powers of darkness fly at his approach or take refuge in their
mysterious caverns, for “he destroys the wicked, he scatters them, the
omens and gloomy portents, dreams, and wicked ghouls--he converts evil
to good, and he drives to their destruction the countries and men--who
devote themselves to black magic.” In addition to natural light, he sheds
upon the earth truth and justice abundantly; he is the “high judge”
 before whom everything makes obeisance, his laws never waver, his
decrees are never set at naught. “O Sun, when thou goest to rest in the
middle of the heavens--may the bars of the bright heaven salute thee
in peace, and may the gate of heaven bless thee!--May Misharu, thy
well-beloved servant, guide aright thy progress, so that on Rbarra,
the seat of thy rule, thy greatness may rise, and that A, thy cherished
spouse, may receive thee joyfully! May thy glad heart find in her thy
rest!--May the food of thy divinity be brought to thee by her,--warrior,
hero, sun, and may she increase thy vigour;--lord of Ebarra, when
thou ap-proachest, mayest thou direct thy course aright!---0 Sun, urge
rightly thy way along the fixed road determined for thee,--O Sun, thou
who art the judge of the land, and the arbiter of its laws!”

It would appear that the triad had begun by having in the third place a
goddess, Ishtar of Dilbat. Ishtar is the evening star which precedes the
appearance of the moon, and the morning star which heralds the approach
of the sun: the brilliance of its light justifies the choice which
made it an associate of the greater heavenly bodies. “In the days of
the past.... Ea charged Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar with the ruling of the
firmament of heaven; he distributed among them, with Anu, the command
of the army of heaven, and among these three gods, his children,
he apportioned the day and the night, and compelled them to work
ceaselessly.”

[Illustration: 173.jpg ISHTAR HOLDING HER STAR BEFORE SIN.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an intaglio at Rome.

Ishtar was separated from her two companions, when the group of the
planets was definitely organized and claimed the adoration of the
devout; the theologians then put in her place an individual of a less
original aspect, Ramman. Ramman embraced within him the elements of many
very ancient genii, all of whom had been set over the atmosphere, and
the phenomena which are daily displayed in it--wind, rain, and thunder.
These genii occupied an important place in the popular religion which
had been cleverly formulated by the theologians of Uruk, and there have
come down to us many legends in which their incarnations play a part.
They are usually represented as enormous birds flocking on their swift
wings from below the horizon, and breathing flame or torrents of water
upon the countries over which they hovered. The most terrible of them
was Zu, who presided over tempests: he gathered the clouds together,
causing them to burst in torrents of rain or hail; he let loose the
winds and lightnings, and nothing remained standing where he had passed.
He had a numerous family: among them cross-breeds of extraordinary
species which would puzzle a modern naturalist, but were matters of
course to the ancient priests. His mother Siris, lady of the rain and
clouds, was a bird like himself; but Zu had as son a vigorous bull,
which, pasturing in the meadows, scattered abundance and fertility
around him. The caprices of these strange beings, their malice, and
their crafty attacks, often brought upon them vexatious misfortunes.
Shutu, the south wind, one day beheld Adapa, one of the numerous
offspring of Ea, fishing in order to provide food for his family. In
spite of his exalted origin, Adapa was no god; he did not possess the
gift of immortality, and he was not at liberty to appear in the presence
of Anu in heaven. He enjoyed, nevertheless, certain privileges, thanks
to his familiar intercourse with his father Ea, and owing to his birth
he was strong enough to repel the assaults of more than one deity. When,
therefore, Shutu, falling upon him unexpectedly, had overthrown him, his
anger knew no bounds: “‘Shutu, thou hast overwhelmed me with thy hatred,
great as it is,--I will break thy wings! ‘Having thus spoken with his
mouth unto Shutu, Adapa broke his wings. For seven days,--Shutu breathed
no longer upon the earth.” Anu, being disturbed at this quiet, which
seemed to him not very consonant with the meddling temperament of the
wind, made inquiries as to its cause through his messenger Ilabrat. “His
messenger Ilabrat answered him: ‘My master,--Adapa, the son of Ea,
has broken Shutu’s wings.’--Anu, when he heard these words, cried out:
‘Help!’” and he sent to Ea Barku, the genius of the lightning, with an
order to bring the guilty one before him. Adapa was not quite at his
ease, although he had right on his side; but Ea, the cleverest of the
immortals, prescribed a line of conduct for him. He was to put on at
once a garment of mourning, and to show himself along with the messenger
at the gates of heaven. Having arrived there, he would not fail to meet
the two divinities who guarded them,--Dumuzi and Gishzida: “‘In whose
honour this garb, in whose honour, Adapa, this garment of mourning?’
‘On our earth two gods have disappeared--it is on this account I am as
I am.’ Dumuzi and Gishzida will look at each other,* they will begin
to lament, they will say a friendly word--to the god Anu for thee, they
will render clear the countenance of Anu,--in thy favour. When thou
shalt appear before the face of Anu, the food of death, it shall be
offered to thee, do not eat it. The drink of death, it shall be offered
to thee, drink it not. A garment, it shall be offered to the, put it on.
Oil, it shall be offered to thee, anoint thyself with it. The command I
have given thee observe it well.’”

     * Dumuzi and Gishzida are the two gods whom Adapa indicates
     without naming them; insinuating that he has put on mourning
     on their account, Adapa is secure of gaining their sympathy,
     and of obtaining their intervention with the god Anu in his
     favour. As to Dumuzi, see pp. 158, 159 of the present work;
     the part played by Gishzida, as well as the event noted in
     the text regarding him, is unknown.

Everything takes place as Ea had foreseen. Dumuzi and Gishzida
welcome the poor wretch, speak in his favour, and present him: “as he
approached, Anu perceived him, and said to him: ‘Come, Adapa, why didst
thou break the wings of Shutu?’ Adapa answered Anu: ‘My lord,--for the
household of my lord Ea, in the middle of the sea,---I was fishing,
and the sea was all smooth.--Shutu breathed, he, he overthrew me, and
I plunged into the abode of fish. Hence the anger of my heart,--that he
might not begin again his acts of ill will,--I broke his wings.’” Whilst
he pleaded his cause the furious heart of Anu became calm. The presence
of a mortal in the halls of heaven was a kind of sacrilege, to be
severely punished unless the god should determine its expiation by
giving the philtre of immortality to the intruder. Anu decided on the
latter course, and addressed Adapa: “‘Why, then, did Ea allow an unclean
mortal to see--the interior of heaven and earth?’ He handed him a cup,
he himself reassured him.--‘We, what shall we give him? The food of
life--take some to him that he may eat.’ The food of life, some was
taken to him, but he did not eat of it. The water of life, some was
taken to him, but he drank not of it. A garment, it was taken to him,
and he put it on. Oil, some was taken to him, and he anointed himself
with it.” Anu looked upon him; he lamented over him: “‘Well, Adapa, why
hast thou not eaten--why hast thou not drunk? Thou shalt not now have
eternal life.’ Ea, my lord, has commanded me: thou shalt not eat, thou
shalt not drink.” Adapa thus lost, by remembering too well the commands
of his father, the opportunity which was offered to him of rising to
the rank of the immortals; Anu sent him back to his home just as he had
come, and Shutu had to put up with his broken wings.

Bamman absorbed one after the other all these genii of tempest and
contention, and out of their combined characters his own personality of
a hundred diverse aspects was built up.

[Illustration: 177.jpg THE BIRDS OF THE TEMPEST]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean cylinder in the
     Museum of New York. Lenormant, in a long article, which he
     published under the pseudonym of Mansell, fancied he
     recognized here the encounter between Sabitum and Gilgames
     on the shores of the Ocean.

He was endowed with the capricious and changing disposition of the
element incarnate in him, and passed from tears to laughter, from anger
to calm, with a promptitude which made him one of the most disconcerting
deities. The tempest was his favourite role. Sometimes he would burst
suddenly on the heavens at the head of a troop of savage subordinates,
whose chiefs were known as Matu, the squall, and Barku, the lightning;
sometimes these were only the various manifestations of his own nature,
and it was he himself who was called Matu and Barku. He collected the
clouds, sent forth the thunder-bolt, shook the mountains, and “before
his rage and violence, his bellowings, his thunder, the gods of heaven
arose to the firmament--the gods of the earth sank into the earth” in
their terror. The monuments represent him as armed for battle with
club, axe, or the two-bladed flaming sword which was usually employed to
signify the thunderbolt. As he destroyed everything in his blind
rage, the kings of Chaldaea were accustomed to invoke him against their
enemies, and to implore him to “hurl the hurricane upon the rebel
peoples and the insubordinate nations.” When his wrath was appeased, and
he had returned to more gentle ways, his kindness knew no limits. From
having been the waterspout which overthrew the forests, he became the
gentle breeze which caresses and refreshes them: with his warm showers
he fertilizes the fields: he lightens the air and tempers the summer
heat.

[Illustration: 178.jpg RAMMAN ARMED WITH AN AXE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Loftus. The
     original, a small stele of terra-cotta, is in the British
     Museum. The date of this representation is uncertain. Ramman
     stands upon the mountain which supports the heaven.

He causes the rivers to swell and overflow their banks; he pours out the
waters over the fields, he makes channels for them, he directs them to
every place where the need of water is felt.

But his fiery temperament is stirred up by the slightest provocation,
and then “his flaming sword scatters pestilence over the land: he
destroys the harvest, brings the ingathering to nothing, tears up trees,
and beats down and roots up the corn.”

[Illustration: 179.jpg RAMMAN, THE GOD OF TEMPESTS AND THUNDER.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard. Properly speaking, this
     is a Susian deity brought by the soldiers of Assurbanipal
     into Assyria, but it carries the usual insignia of Ramman.

In a word, the second triad formed a more homogeneous whole when Ishtar
still belonged to it, and it is entirely owing to the presence of this
goddess in it that we are able to understand its plan and purpose; it
was essentially astrological, and it was intended that none should be
enrolled in it but the manifest leaders of the constellations. Ramman,
on the contrary, had nothing to commend him for a position alongside the
moon and sun; he was not a celestial body, he had no definitely shaped
form, but resembled an aggregation of gods rather than a single deity.
By the addition of Ramman to the triad, the void occasioned by the
removal of Ishtar was filled up in a blundering way. We must, however,
admit that the theologians must have found it difficult to find any one
better fitted for the purpose: when Venus was once set along with the
rest of the planets, there was nothing left in the heavens which
was sufficiently brilliant to replace her worthily. The priests were
compelled to take the most powerful deity they knew after the other
five--the lord of the atmosphere and the thunder.*

     * Their embarrassment is shown in the way in which they have
     classed this god. In the original triad, Ishtar, being the
     smallest of the three heavenly bodies, naturally took the
     third place. Ramman, on the contrary, had natural affinities
     with the elemental group, and belonged to Anu, Bel, Ea,
     rather than to Sin and Shamash. So we find him sometimes in
     the third place, sometimes in the first of the second triad,
     and this post of eminence is so natural to him, that
     Assyriologists have preserved it from the beginning, and
     describe the triad as composed, not of Sin, Shamash, and
     Ramman, but of Ramman, Sin, and Shamash, or even of Sin,
     Ramman, and Shamash.

The gods of the triads were married, but their goddesses for the most
part had neither the liberty nor the important functions of the Egyptian
goddesses.* They were content, in their modesty, to be eclipsed behind
the personages of their husbands, and to spend their lives in the shade,
as the women of Asiatic countries still do. It would appear, moreover,
that there was no trouble taken about them until it was too late--when
it was desired, for instance, to explain the affiliation of the
immortals. Anu and Bel were bachelors to start with. When it was
determined to assign to them female companions, recourse was had to the
procedure adopted by the Egyptians in a similar case: there was added to
their names the distinctive suffix of the feminine gender, and in this
manner two grammatical goddesses were formed, Anat and Belit, whose
dispositions give some indications of this accidental birth. There was
always a vague uncertainty about the parts they had to play, and their
existence itself was hardly more than a seeming one. Anat sometimes
represented a feminine heaven, and differed from Anu only in her sex.
At times she was regarded as the antithesis of Anu, i.e. as the earth in
contradistinction to the heaven. Belit, as far as we can distinguish her
from other persons to whom the title “lady” was attributed, shared with
Bel the rule over the earth and the regions of darkness where the dead
were confined. The wife of Ea was distinguished by a name which was not
derived from that of her husband, but she was not animated by a more
intense vitality than Anat or Belit: she was called Damkina, the lady
of the soil, and she personified in an almost passive manner the earth
united to the water which fertilized it. The goddesses of the second
triad were perhaps rather less artificial in their functions. Ningal,
doubtless, who ruled along with Sin at Uru, was little more than an
incarnate epithet. Her name means “the great lady,” “the queen,” and her
person is the double of that of her husband; as he is the man-moon, she
is the woman-moon, his beloved, and the mother of his children Shamash
and Ishtar. But A or Sirrida enjoyed an indisputable authority alongside
Shamash: she never lost sight of the fact that she had been a sun like
Shamash, a disk-god before she was transformed into a goddess. Shamash,
moreover, was surrounded by an actual harem, of which Sirrida was the
acknowledged queen, as he himself was its king, and among its members
Gula, the great, and Anunit, the daughter of Sin, the morning star,
found a place. Shala, the compassionate, was also included among them;
she was subsequently bestowed upon Ramman. They were all goddesses of
ancient lineage, and each had been previously worshipped on her own
account when the Sumerian people held sway in Chaldaea: as soon as the
Semites gained the upper hand, the powers of these female deities became
enfeebled, and they were distributed among the gods. There was but one
of them, Nana, the doublet of Ishtar, who had succeeded in preserving
her liberty: when her companions had been reduced to comparative
insignificance, she was still acknowledged as queen and mistress in her
city of Eridu. The others, notwithstanding the enervating influence
to which they were usually subject in the harem, experienced at times
inclinations to break into rebellion, and more than one of them, shaking
off the yoke of her lord, had proclaimed her independence: Anunit, for
instance, tearing herself away from the arms of Shamash, had vindicated,
as his sister and his equal, her claim to the half of his dominion.
Sippara was a double city, or rather there were two neighbouring
Sipparas, one distinguished as the city of the Sun, “Sippara sha
Shamash,” while the other gave lustre to Anunit in assuming the
designation of “Sippara sha Anunitum.” Rightly interpreted, these family
arrangements of the gods had but one reason for their existence--the
necessity of explaining without coarseness those parental connections
which the theological classification found it needful to establish
between the deities constituting the two triads. In Chaldaea as in Egypt
there was no inclination to represent the divine families as propagating
their species otherwise than by the procedure observed in human
families: the union of the goddesses with the gods thus legitimated
their offspring.

     * The passive and almost impersonal character of the
     majority of the Babylonian and Assyrian goddesses is well
     known. The majority must have been independent at the
     outset, in the Sumerian period, and were married later on,
     under the influence of Semitic ideas.

The triads were, therefore, nothing more than theological fictions. Each
of them was really composed of six members, and it was thus really a
council of twelve divinities which the priests of Uruk had instituted to
attend to the affairs of the universe; with this qualification, that the
feminine half of the assembly rarely asserted itself, and contributed
but an insignificant part to the common work. When once the great
divisions had been arranged, and the principal functionaries designated,
it was still necessary to work out the details, and to select v agents
to preserve an order among them. Nothing happens by chance in this
world, and the most insignificant events are determined by previsional
arrangements, and decisions arrived at a long time previously. The gods
assembled every morning in a hall, situated near the gates of the sun in
the east, and there deliberated on the events of the day. The sagacious
Ea submitted to them the fates which are about to be fulfilled, and
caused a record of them to be made in the chamber of destiny on tablets
which Shamash or Merodach carried with them to scatter everywhere on his
way; but he who should be lucky enough to snatch these tablets from him
would make himself master of the world for that day. This misfortune had
arisen only once, at the beginning of the ages. Zu, the storm-bird, who
lives with his wife and children on Mount Sabu under the protection of
Bel, and who from this elevation pounces down upon the country to ravage
it, once took it into his head to make himself equal to the supreme
gods. He forced his way at an early hour into the chamber of destiny
before the sun had risen: he perceived within it the royal insignia of
Bel, “the mitre of his power, the garment of his divinity,--the fatal
tablets of his divinity, Zu perceived them. He perceived the father
of the gods, the god who is the tie between heaven and earth,--and the
desire of ruling took possession of his heart;--yea, Zu perceived
the father of the gods, the god who is the tie between heaven and
earth,--and the desire of ruling took possession of his heart,--‘I will
take the fatal tablets of the gods, I myself,--and the oracles of all
the gods, it is I who will give them forth;--I will install myself on
the throne, I will send forth decrees,--I will manage the whole of the
Igigi.’--And his heart plotted warfare;--lying in wait on the threshold
of the hall, he watched for the dawn.--When Bel had poured out the
shining waters,--had installed himself on the throne, and donned the
crown, Zu took away the fatal tablets from his hand,--he seized power,
and the authority to give forth decrees,--the god Zu, he flew away and
concealed himself in the mountains.” Bel immediately cried out, he was
inflamed with anger, and ravaged the world with the fire of his
wrath. “Anu opened his mouth, he spake,--he said to the gods his
offspring:--‘Who will conquer the god Zu?--He will make his name great
in every land.’--Bamman, the supreme, the son of Anu, was called, and
Anu himself gave to him his orders;--yea, Bamman, the supreme, the son
of Anu, was called, and Anu himself gave to him his orders.--‘Go, my son
Kamman, the valiant, since nothing resists thy attack;--conquer Zu by
thine arm, and thy name shall be great among the great gods,--among the
gods, thy brothers, thou shalt have no equal: sanctuaries shall be built
to thee, and if thou buildest for thyself thy cities in the “four houses
of the world,” * --thy cities shall extend over all the terrestrial
mountain! ‘Be valiant, then, in the sight of the gods, and may thy
name be strong.’ Bamman answers, he addresses this bpeech to Anu his
father:--‘Father, who will go to the inaccessible mountains? Who is the
equal of Zu among the gods, thy offspring? He has carried off in his
hand the fatal tablets,--he has seized power and authority to give forth
decrees,--Zu thereupon flew away and hid himself in his mountain.--Now,
the word of his mouth is like that of the god who unites heaven and
earth;---my power is no more than clay,--and all the gods must bow
before him.’” Anu sent for the god Bara, the son of Ishtar, to help him,
and exhorted him in the same language he had addressed to Ramman: Bara
refused to attempt the enterprise. Shamash, called in his turn, at
length consented to set out for Mount Sabu: he triumphed over the
storm-bird, tore the fatal tablets from him, and brought him before Ea
as a prisoner.

     * Literally, “Construct thy cities in the four regions of
     the world (cf. pp. 12, 13 of the present work), and thy
     cities will extend to the mountain of the earth.” Anu would
     appear to have promised to Ramman a monopoly; if he wished
     to build cities which would recognize him as their patron,
     these cities will cover the entire earth.

[Illustration: 186.jpg SHAMASH FIGHTS WITH ZU AND THE STORM BIRDS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.

[Illustration: 186a.jpg The Plenisphere taken from the Temple of
Tentyra]

[Illustration: 186b.jpg Text of The Plenisphere]

The sun of the complete day, the sun in the full possession of his
strength, could alone win back the attributes of power which the morning
sun had allowed himself to be despoiled of. From that time forth the
privilege of delivering immortal decrees to mortals was never taken out
of the hands of the gods of light.

Destinies once fixed on the earth became a law--“mamit”--a good or bad
fate, from which no one could escape, but of which any one might learn
the disposition beforehand if he were capable of interpreting the
formulas of it inscribed on the book of the sky. The stars, even those
which were most distant from the earth, were not unconcerned in the
events which took place upon it. They were so many living beings endowed
with various characteristics, and their rays as they passed across the
celestial spaces exercised from above an active control on everything
they touched. Their influences became modified, increased or weakened
according to the intensity with which they shed them, according to the
respective places they occupied in the firmament, and according to the
hour of the night and the month of the year in which they rose or
set. Each division of time, each portion of space, each category of
existences--and in each category each individual--was placed under their
rule and was subject to their implacable tyranny. The infant was born
their slave, and continued in this condition of slavery until his life’s
end: the star which was in the ascendent at the instant of his birth
became his star, and ruled his destiny. The Chaldaeans, like the
Egyptians, fancied they discerned in the points of light which
illuminate the nightly sky, the outline of a great number of various
figures--men, animals, monsters, real and imaginary objects, a lance, a
bow, a fish, a scorpion, ears of wheat, a bull, and a lion. The majority
of these were spread out above their heads on the surface of the
celestial vault; but twelve of these figures, distinguishable by their
brilliancy, were arranged along the celestial horizon in the pathway of
the sun, and watched over his daily course along the walls of the world.
These divided this part of the sky into as many domains or “houses,” in
which they exercised absolute authority, and across which the god could
not go without having previously obtained their consent, or having
brought them into subjection beforehand. This arrangement is a
reminiscence of the wars by which Bel-Merodach, the divine bull, the
god of Babylon, had succeeded in bringing order out of chaos: he had not
only killed Tiamat, but he had overthrown and subjugated the monsters
which led the armies of darkness. He meets afresh, every year and every
day, on the confines of heaven and earth, the scorpion-men of his ancient
enemy, the fish with heads of men or goats, and many more. The twelve
constellations were combined into a zodiac, whose twelve signs,
transmitted to the Greeks and modified by them, may still be read on
our astronomical charts. The constellations, immovable, or actuated by a
slow motion, in longitude only, contain the problems of the future,
but they are not sufficient of themselves alone to furnish man with the
solution of these problems. The heavenly bodies capable of explaining
them, the real interpreters of destiny, were at first the two divinities
who rule the empires of night and day--the moon and the sun; afterwards
there took part in this work of explanation the five planets which we
call Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Mercury, or rather the five gods
who actuate them, and who have controlled their course from the moment
of creation--Merodach, Ishtar, Ninib, Nergal, and Nebo. The planets
seemed to traverse the heavens in every direction, to cross their own
and each other’s paths, and to approach the fixed stars or recede from
them; and the species of rhythmical dance in which they are carried
unceasingly across the celestial spaces revealed to men, if they
examined it attentively, the irresistible march of their own destinies,
as surely as if they had made themselves master of the fatal tablets of
Shamash, and could spell them out line by line.

The Chaldaens were disposed to regard the planets as perverse sheep who
had escaped from the fold of the stars to wander wilfully in search of
pasture.* At first they were considered to be so many sovereign deities,
without other function than that of running through the heavens and
furnishing there predictions of the future; afterwards two of them
descended to the earth, and received upon it the homage of men* --Ishtar
from the inhabitants of the city of Dilbat, and Nebo* from those of
Borsippa. Nebo assumed the _role_ of a soothsayer and a prophet. He
knew and foresaw everything, and was ready to give his advice upon any
subject: he was the inventor of the method of making clay tablets,
and of writing upon them. Ishtar was a combination of contradictory
characteristics.****

     * Their generic name, read as “lubat,” in Sumero-Accadian,
     “bibbu” in Semitic speech (Fr. Lenormant, _Essai de
     Commentaire de Berose_, pp. 370, 371), denoted a quadruped,
     the species of which Lenormant was not able to define;
     Jensen (_Die Kosmologie_, pp. 95-99) identified it with the
     sheep and the ram. At the end of the account of the
     creation, Merodach-Jupiter is compared with a shepherd who
     feeds the flock of the gods on the pastures of heaven (cf.
     p. 15 of the present work).

     ** The site of Dilbat is unknown: it has been sought in the
     neighbourhood of Kishu and Babylon (Delitzsch, _Wo lag das
     Paradies?_ p. 219); it is probable that it was in the
     suburbs of Sippara. The name given to the goddess was
     transcribed AeXckit (Hesychius, _sub voce_), and signifies
     the herald, the messenger of the day.

     *** The role of Nebo was determined by the early
     Assyriologists (Rawlin-son, _On the Religion of the
     Babylonians and Assyrians_, pp. 523-52G; Oppeet, _Expedition
     en Mesopotamie_, vol. ii. p. 257; Lenormant, _Essai de
     Commentaire de Berose_, pp. 114-116). He owed his functions
     partly to his alliance with other gods (Sayce, _Religion of
     the Ancient Babylonians_, pp. 118, 119).

     **** See the chapter devoted by Sayce to the consideration
     of Ishtar in his Religion of the Ancient Babylonians (IV.
     Tammuz and Ishtar, p. 221, et seq.), and the observations
     made by Jeremias on the subject in the sequel of his
     Izdubar-Nimrod (Ishtar-Astarte im Izdubar-Epos), pp. 56-66.

[Illustration: 190.jpg ISHTAR AS A WARRIOR-GODDESS]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a heliogravure in Menant’s
     _Recherches sur la Glyptique orientale_.

In Southern Chaldaea she was worshipped under the name of Nana,
the supreme mistress.* The identity of this lady of the gods,
“Belit-ilanit,” the Evening Star, with Anunit, the Morning Star, was
at first ignored, and hence two distinct goddesses were formed from the
twofold manifestation of a single deity: having at length discovered
their error, the Chaldaeans merged these two beings in one, and their
names became merely two different designations for the same star under a
twofold aspect. The double character, however, which had been attributed
to them continued to be attached to the single personality.

     * With regard to Nana, consult, with reserve, Fk. Lenormant,
     Essai de Commentaire de Berose, pp. 100-103, 378, 379, where
     the identity of Ishtar and Nana is still unrecognized.

[Illustration: 191.jpg NEBO]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian statue in alabaster
     in the British Museum.

The Evening Star had symbolized the goddess of love, who attracted
the sexes towards one another, and bound them together by the chain
of desire; the Morning Star, on the other hand, was regarded as the
cold-blooded and cruel warrior who despised the pleasures of love and
rejoiced in warfare: Ishtar thus combined in her person chastity and
lasciviousness, kindness and ferocity, and a peaceful and warlike
disposition, but this incongruity in her characteristics did not seem
to disconcert the devotion of her worshippers. The three other planets
would have had a wretched part to play in comparison with Nebo and
Ishtar, if they had not been placed under new patronage. The secondary
solar gods, Merodach, Ninib, and Nergal, led, if we examine their role
carefully, but an incomplete existence: they were merely portions of the
sun, while Shamash represented the entire orb. What became of them apart
from the moment in the day and year in which they were actively engaged
in their career? Where did they spend their nights, the hours during
which Shamash had retired into the firmament, and lay hidden behind the
mountains of the north? As in Egypt the Horuses identified at first with
the sun became at length the rulers of the planets, so in Chaldaea
the three suns of Ninib, Merodach, and Nergal became respectively
assimilated to Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars;* and this identification was
all the more easy in the case of Saturn, as he had been considered from
the beginning as a bull belonging to Shamash. Henceforward, therefore,
there was a group of five powerful gods--distributed among the stars
of heaven, and having abodes also in the cities of the earth--whose
function it was to announce the destinies of the universe. Some,
deceived by the size and brilliancy of Jupiter, gave the chief command
to Merodach, and this opinion naturally found a welcome reception at
Babylon, of which he was the feudal deity. Others, taking into account
only the preponderating influence exercised by the planets over the
fortunes of men, accorded the primacy to Ninib, placing Merodach next,
followed respectively by Ishtar, Nergal, and Nebo. The five planets,
like the six triads, were not long before they took to themselves
consorts, if indeed they had not already been married before they were
brought together in a collective whole. Ninib chose for wife, in the
first place, Bau, the daughter of Anu, the mistress of Uru, highly
venerated from the most remote times; afterwards Gula, the queen of
physicians, whose wisdom alleviated the ills of humanity, and who was
one of the goddesses sometimes placed in the harem of Shamash himself.
Merodach associated with him Zirbanit, the fruitful, who secures from
generation to generation the permanence and increase of living beings.
Nergal distributed his favours sometimes to Laz, and sometimes to
Esharra, who was, like himself, warlike and always victorious in battle.
Nebo provided himself with a mate in Tashmit, the great bride, or
even in Ishtar herself. But Ishtar could not be content with a single
husband: after she had lost Dumuzi-Tammuz, the spouse of her youth, she
gave herself freely to the impulses of her passions, distributing her
favours to men as well as gods, and was sometimes subject to be repelled
with contempt by the heroes upon whom she was inclined to bestow her
love. The five planets came thus to be actually ten, and advantage was
taken of these alliances to weave fresh schemes of affiliation: Nebo was
proclaimed to be the son of Merodach and Zirbanit, Merodach the son of
Ba, and Ninib the offspring of Bel and Esharra.

     * Ishtar, Nebo, Sin, and Shamash being heavenly bodies, to
     begin with, and the other great gods, Anu, Bel, Ea, and
     Ramman having their stars in the heavens, the Chaldaeans
     were led by analogy to ascribe to the gods which represented
     the phases of the sun, Merodach, Ninib, and Nergal, three
     stars befitting their importance, i.e. three planets.

There were two councils, one consisting of twelve members, the other
of ten; the former was composed of the most popular gods of Southern
Chaldaea, representing the essential elements of the world, while
the latter consisted of the great deities of Northern Chaldaea, whose
function it was to regulate or make known the destinies of men. The
authors of this system, who belonged to Southern Chaldaea, naturally
gave the position to their patron gods, and placed the twelve above
the ten. It is well known that Orientals display a great respect for
numbers, and attribute to them an almost irresistible power; we can
thus understand how it was that the Chaldaeans applied them to designate
their divine masters, and we may calculate from these numbers the
estimation in which each of these masters was held. The goddesses had
no value assigned to them in this celestial arithmetic, Ishtar excepted,
who was not a mere duplication, more or less ingenious, of a previously
existing deity, but possessed from the beginning an independent life,
and could thus claim to be called goddess in her own right. The members
of the two triads were arranged on a descending scale, Anu taking the
highest place: the scale was considered to consist of a soss of sixty
units in length, and each of the deities who followed Anu was placed ten
of these units below his predecessor, Bel at 50 units, Ea at 40, Sin at
30, Shamash at 20, Ramman at 10 or 6. The gods of the planets were not
arranged in a regular series like those of the triads, but the numbers
attached to them expressed their proportionate influence on terrestrial
affairs: to Ninib was assigned the same number as had been given to Bel,
50, to Merodach perhaps 25, to Ishtar 15, to Nergal 12, and to Nebo
10. The various spirits were also fractionally estimated, but this as a
class, and not as individuals: the priests would not have known how to
have solved the problem if they had been obliged to ascribe values
to the infinity of existences.* As the Heliopolitans were obliged to
eliminate from the Ennead many feudal divinities, so the Chaldaeans
had left out of account many of their sovereign deities, especially
goddesses, Bau of Uru, Nana of Uruk, and Allat; or if they did introduce
them into their calculations, it was by a subterfuge, by identifying
them with other goddesses, to whom places had been already assigned;
Bau being thus coupled with Ohila, Nana with Ishtar, and Allat with
Ninhl-Beltis. If figures had been assigned to the latter proportionate
to the importance of the parts they played, and the number of their
votaries, how comes it that they were excluded from the cycle of the
great gods? They were actually placed alongside rather than below the
two councils, and without insistence upon the rank which they enjoyed
in the hierarchy. But the confusion which soon arose among divinities
of identical or analogous nature opened the way for inserting all the
neglected personalities in the framework already prepared for them. A
sky-god, like Dagan, would mingle naturally with Anu, and enjoy like
honours with him. The gods of all ranks associated with the sun or fire,
Nusku, Gibil, and Dumuzi, who had not been at first received among the
privileged group, obtained a place there by virtue of their assimilation
to Shamash, and his secondary forms, Bel-Merodach, Ninib, and Nergal.
Ishtar absorbed all her companions, and her name put in the plural,
Ishtarati, “the Ishtars,” embraced all goddesses in general, just as the
name Hani took in all the gods. Thanks to this compromise, the system
flourished, and was widely accepted: local vanity was always able to
find a means for placing in a prominent place within it the feudal
deity, and for reconciling his pretensions to the highest rank with the
order of precedence laid down by the theologians of Uruk. The local
god was always the king of the gods, the father of the gods, he who
was worshipped above the others in everyday life, and whose public cult
constituted the religion of the State or city.

     * As far as we can at present determine, the most ancient
     series established was that of the planetary gods, whose
     values, following each other irregularly, are not calculated
     on a scheme of mathematical progression, but according to
     the empirical importance, which a study of predictions had
     ascribed to each planet. The regular series, that of the
     great gods, bears in its regularity the stamp of its later
     introduction: it was instituted after the example of the
     former, but with corrections of what seemed capricious, and
     fixing the interval between the gods always at the same
     figure.

The temples were miniature reproductions of the arrangement of the
universe. The “ziggurat” represented in its form the mountain of the
world, and the halls ranged at its feet resembled approximately
the accessory parts of the world: the temple of Merodach at Babylon
comprised them all up to the chambers of fate, where the sun received
every morning the tablets of destiny. The name often indicated the
nature of the patron deity or one of his attributes: the temple of
Shamash at Larsam, for instance was called E-Babbara, “the house of
the sun,” and that of Nebo at Borsippa, E-Zida, “the eternal house.” No
matter where the sanctuary of a specific god might be placed, it always
bore the same name; Shamash, for example, dwelt at Sippara as at Larsam
in an E-Babbara. In Chaldaea, as in Egypt, the king or chief of the
State was the priest _par excellence_, and the title of “vicegerent,”
 so frequent in the early period, shows that the chief was regarded as
representing the divinity among his own people; but a priestly body,
partly hereditary, partly selected, fulfilled for him his daily
sacerdotal functions, and secured the regularity of the services. A
chief priest--“ishshakku”--was at their head, and his principal duty was
the pouring out of the libation. Each temple had its “ishshakku,” but he
who presided over the worship of the feudal deity took precedence of
all the others in the city, as in the case of the chief priests of
Bel-Merodach at Babylon, of Sin at Uru, and of Shamash at Larsam or
Sippara. He presided over various categories of priests and priestesses
whose titles and positions in the hierarchy are not well known. The
“sangutu” appear to have occupied after him the most important place, as
chamberlains attached to the house of the god, and as his liegemen.
To some of these was entrusted the management of the harem of the god,
while others were overseers of the remaining departments of his
palace. The “kipu” and the “shatammu” were especially charged with the
management of his financial interests, while the “pashishu” anointed
with holy and perfumed oil his statues of stone, metal, or wood, the
votive stelae set up in the chapels, and the objects used in worship
and sacrifice, such as the great basins, the “seas” of copper which
contained the water employed in the ritual ablutions, and the victims
led to the altar. After these came a host of officials, butchers and
their assistants, soothsayers, augurs, prophets,--in fact, all the
attendants that the complicated rites, as numerous in Chaldaea as in
Egypt, required, not to speak of the bands of women and men who honoured
the god in meretricious rites. Occupation for this motley crowd was
never lacking. Every day and almost every hour a fresh ceremony required
the services of one or other member of the staff, from the monarch
himself, or his deputy in the temple, down to the lowest sacristan. The
12th of the month Blul was set apart at Babylon for the worship of Bel
and Beltis: the sovereign made a donation to them according as he was
disposed, and then celebrated before them the customary sacrifices, and
if he raised his hand to plead for any favour, he obtained it without
fail. The 13th was dedicated to the moon, the supreme god; the 14th to
Beltis and Nergal; the 15th to Shamash; the 16th was a fast in honour
of Merodach and Zirbanit; the 17th was the annual festival of Nebo and
Tashmit; the 18th was devoted to the laudation of Sin and Shamash; while
the 19th was a “white day” for the great goddess Gula. The whole year
was taken up in a way similar to this casual specimen from the calendar.
The kings, in founding a temple, not only bestowed upon it the objects
and furniture required for present exigencies, such as lambs and oxen,
birds, fish, bread, liquors, incense, and odoriferous essences;
they assigned to it an annual income from the treasury, slaves, and
cultivated lands; and their royal successors were accustomed to renew
these gifts or increase them on every opportunity. Every victorious
campaign brought him his share in the spoils and captives; every
fortunate or unfortunate event which occurred in connection with the
State or royal family meant an increase in the gifts to the god, as
an act of thanksgiving on the one hand for the divine favour, or as an
offering on the other to appease the wrath of the god. Gold, silver,
copper, lapis-lazuli, gems and precious woods, accumulated in the sacred
treasury; fields were added to fields, flocks to flocks, slaves to
slaves; and the result of such increase would in a few generations
have made the possessions of the god equal to those of the reigning
sovereign, if the attacks of neighbouring peoples had not from time to
time issued in the loss of a part of it, or if the king himself had not,
under financial pressure, replenished his treasury at the expense of the
priests. To prevent such usurpations as far as possible, maledictions
were hurled at every one who should dare to lay a sacrilegious hand on
the least object belonging to the divine domain; it was predicted of
such “that he would be killed like an ox in the midst of his prosperity,
and slaughtered like a wild urus in the fulness of his strength!... May
his name be effaced from his stelae in the temple of his god! May his
god see pitilessly the disaster of his country, may the god ravage his
land with the waters of heaven, ravage it with the waters of the
earth. May he be pursued as a nameless wretch, and his seed fall under
servitude! May this man, like every one who acts adversely to his
master, find nowhere a refuge, afar off, under the vault of the skies or
in any abode of man whatsoever.” These threats, terrible as they were,
did not succeed in deterring the daring, and the mighty men of the
time were willing to brave them, when their interests promoted them.
Gulkishar, Lord of the “land of the sea,” had vowed a wheat-field to
Nina, his lady, near the town of Deri, on the Tigris. Seven hundred
years later, in the reign of Belnadinabal, Ekarrakais, governor of
Bitsinmagir, took possession of it, and added it to the provincial
possessions, contrary to all equity. The priest of the goddess appealed
to the king, and prostrating himself before the throne with many prayers
and mystic formulas, begged for the restitution of the alienated land.
Belnadinabal acceded to the request, and renewed the imprecations which
had been inserted on the original deed of gift: “If ever, in the
course of days, the man of law, or the governor of a suzerain who will
superintend the town of Bitsinmagir, fears the vengeance of the god
Zikum or the goddess Nina, may then Zikum and Nina, the mistress of the
goddesses, come to him with the benediction of the prince of the gods;
may they grant to him the destiny of a happy life, and may they accord
to him days of old age, and years of uprightness! But as for thee, who
hast a mind to change this, step not across its limits, do not covet
the land: hate evil and love justice.” If all sovereigns were not so
accommodating in their benevolence as Belnadinabal, the piety of private
individuals, stimulated by fear, would be enough to repair the loss,
and frequent legacies would soon make up for the detriment caused to
the temple possessions by the enemy’s sword or the rapacity of an
unscrupulous lord. The residue, after the vicissitudes of revolutions,
was increased and diminished from time to time, to form at length in the
city an indestructible fief whose administration was a function of the
chief priest for life, and whose revenue furnished means in abundance
for the personal exigencies of the gods as well as the support of his
ministers.

This was nothing more than justice would prescribe. A loyal and
universal faith would not only acknowledge the whole world to be the
creation of the gods, but also their inalienable domain. It belonged to
them at the beginning; every one in the State of which the god was
the sovereign lord, all those, whether nobles or serfs, vicegerents
or kings, who claimed to have any possession in it, were but ephemeral
lease-holders of portions of which they fancied themselves the owners.
Donations to the temples were, therefore, nothing more than voluntary
restitutions, which the gods consented to accept graciously, deigning
to be well pleased with the givers, when, after all-, they might have
considered the gifts as merely displays of strict honesty, which merited
neither recognition nor thanks. They allowed, however, the best part of
their patrimony to remain in the hands of strangers, and they contented
themselves with what the pretended generosity of the faithful might see
fit to assign to them. Of their lands, some were directly cultivated by
the priests themselves; others were leased to lay people of every rank,
who took off the shoulders of the priesthood all the burden of managing
them, while rendering at the same time the profit that accrued from
them; others were let at a fixed rent according to contract. The
tribute of dates, corn, and fruit, which was rendered to the temples to
celebrate certain commemorative ceremonies in the honour of this or that
deity, were fixed charges upon certain lands, which at length usually
fell entirely into the hands of the priesthood as mortmain possessions.
These were the sources of the fixed revenues of the gods, by means of
which they and their people were able to live, if not luxuriously, at
least in a manner befitting their dignity. The offerings and sacrifices
were a kind of windfall, of which the quantity varied strangely with the
seasons; at certain times few were received, while at other times there
was a superabundance. The greatest portion of them was consumed on
the spot by the officials of the sanctuary; the part which could be
preserved without injury was added to the produce of the domain, and
constituted a kind of reserve for a rainy day, or was used to produce
more of its kind. The priests made great profit out of corn and metals,
and the skill with which they conducted commercial operations in silver
was so notorious that no private person hesitated to entrust them with
the management of his capital: they were the intermediaries between
lenders and borrowers, and the commissions which they obtained in these
transactions was not the smallest or the least certain of their profits.
They maintained troops of slaves, labourers, gardeners, workmen, and
even women-singers and sacred courtesans of which mention has been made
above, all of whom either worked directly for them in their several
trades, or were let out to those who needed their services. The god was
not only the greatest cultivator in the State after the king, sometimes
even excelling him in this respect, but he was also the most active
manufacturer, and many of the utensils in daily use, as well as articles
of luxury, proceeded from his workshops. His possessions secured for him
a paramount authority in the city, and also an influence in the councils
of the king: the priests who represented him on earth thus became mixed
up in State affairs, and exercised authority on his behalf in the same
measure as the officers of the crown.

[Illustration: 203.jpg A VOTARY LED TO THE GOD TO RECEIVE THE REWARD OF
THE SACRIFICE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio in the
     Berlin Museum.

He, had, indeed, as much need of riches and renown as the least of his
clients. As he was subject to all human failings, and experienced all
the appetites of mankind, he had to be nourished, clothed, and amused,
and this could be done only at great expense. The stone or wooden
statues erected to him in the sanctuaries furnished him with bodies,
which he animated with his breath, and accredited to his clients as the
receivers of all things needful to him in his mysterious kingdom. The
images of the gods were clothed in vestments, they were anointed with
odoriferous oils, covered with jewels, served with food and drink; and
during these operations the divinities themselves, above in the heaven,
or down in the abyss, or in the bosom of the earth, were arrayed in
garments, their bodies were perfumed with unguents, and their appetites
fully satisfied: all that was further required for this purpose was the
offering of sacrifices together with prayers and prescribed rites. The
priest began by solemnly inviting the gods to the feast: as soon as they
sniffed from afar the smell of the good cheer that awaited them, they
ran “like a swarm of flies” and prepared themselves to partake of it.

[Illustration: 204.jpg THE SACRIFICE: A GOAT PRESENTED TO ISHTAR.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian intaglio
     illustrated in A. Rich, _Narrative of a Journey to the Site
     of Babylon in 1811_. The sacrifice of the goat, or rather
     its presentation to the god, is not infrequently represented
     on the Assyrian bas-reliefs.

The supplications having been heard, water was brought to the gods for
the necessary ablutions before a repast. “Wash thy hands, cleanse thy
hands,--may the gods thy brothers wash their hands!--From a clean dish
eat a pure repast,--from a clean cup drink pure water.” The statue, from
the rigidity of the material out of which it was carved, was at a loss
how to profit by the exquisite things which had been lavished upon it:
the difficulty was removed by the opening of its mouth at the moment
of consecration, thus enabling it to partake of the good fare to its
satisfaction.* The banquet lasted a long time, and consisted of every
delicacy which the culinary skill of the time could prepare: the courses
consisted of dates, wheaten flour, honey, butter, various kinds of
wines, and fruits, together with roast and boiled meats.

     * This operation, which was also resorted to in Egypt in the
     case of the statues of the gods and deceased persons, is
     clearly indicated in a text of the second Chaldaean empire
     published in _W. A. Insc_, vol. iv. pi. 25. The priest who
     consecrates an image makes clear in the first place that
     “its mouth not being open it can partake of no refreshment:
     it neither eats food nor drinks water.” Thereupon he performs
     certain rites, which he declares were celebrated, if not at
     that moment, at least for the first time by Ea himself: “Ea
     has brought thee to thy glorious place,--to thy glorious
     place he has brought thee,--brought thee with his splendid
     hand,--brought also butter and honey;--_he has poured
     consecrated water into thy mouth--and by magic has opened
     thy mouth._” Henceforward the statue can eat and drink like
     an ordinary living being the meat and beverages offered to
     it during the sacrifice.

[Illustration: 205.jpg THE GOD SHAMASH SEIZES WITH HIS LEFT HAND THE
SMOKE OF THE SACRIFICE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio pointed out
     by Heuzey-Sarzcc; the original is in the Louvre. The scene
     depicted behind Shamash deals with a legend still unknown. A
     goddess, pursued by a genius with a double face, has taken
     refuge under a tree, which bows down to protect her; while
     the monster endeavours to break down the obstacle branch by
     branch, a god rises from the stem and hands to the goddess a
     stone-headed mace to protect her against her enemy.

In the most ancient times it would appear that even human sacrifices
were offered, but this custom was obsolete except on rare occasions, and
lambs, oxen, sometimes swine’s flesh, formed the usual elements of
the sacrifice. The gods seized as it arose from the altar the unctuous
smoke, and fed on it with delight. When they had finished their repast,
the supplication of a favour was adroitly added, to which they gave a
favourable hearing. Services were frequent in the temples: there was one
in the morning and another in the evening on ordinary days, in addition
to those which private individuals might require at any hour of the day.
The festivals assigned to the local god and his colleagues, together
with the acts of praise in which the whole nation joined, such as that
of the New Year, required an abundance of extravagant sacrifices, in
which the blood of the victims flowed like water. Days of sorrow and
mourning alternated with these days of joy, during which the people and
the magnates gave themselves up to severe fasting and acts of penitence.
The Chaldeans had a lively sense of human frailty, and of the risks
entailed upon the sinner by disobedience to the gods. The dread of
sinning haunted them during their whole life; they continually
subjected the motives of their actions to a strict scrutiny, and once
self-examination had revealed to them the shadow of an evil intent, they
were accustomed to implore pardon for it in a humble manner. “Lord, my
sins are many, great are my misdeeds!--O my god, my sins are many, great
my misdeeds!--O my goddess, my sins are many, great my misdeeds!--I have
committed faults and I knew them not; I have committed sin and I knew
it not; I have fed upon misdeeds and I knew them not; I have walked in
omissions and I knew them not.--The lord, in the anger of his heart,
he has stricken me,--the god, in the wrath of his heart, has abandoned
me,--Ishtar is enraged against me, and has treated me harshly!--I make
an effort, and no one offers me a hand,--I weep, and no one comes to
me,--I cry aloud, and no one hears me:--I sink under affliction, I am
overwhelmed, I can no longer raise up my head,--I turn to my merciful
god to call upon him, and I groan!... Lord reject not thy servant,--and
if he is hurled into the roaring waters, stretch to him thy hand;--the
sins I have committed, have mercy upon them,--the misdeeds I have
committed, scatter them to the winds--and my numerous faults, tear them
to pieces like a garment.” Sin in the eyes of the Chaldaean was not, as
with us, an infirmity of the soul; it assaulted the body like an actual
virus, and the fear of physical suffering or death engendered by it,
inspired these complaints with a note of sincerity which cannot be
mistaken.

Every individual is placed, from the moment of his birth, under the
protection of a god and goddess, of whom he is the servant, or rather
the son, and whom he never addresses otherwise than as his god and
his goddess. These deities accompany him night and day, not so much to
protect him from visible dangers, as to guard him from the invisible
beings which ceaselessly hover round him, and attack him on every side.
If he is devout, piously disposed towards his divine patrons and the
deities of his country, if he observes the prescribed rites, recites the
prayers, performs the sacrifices--in a word, if he acts rightly--their
aid is never lacking; they bestow upon him a numerous posterity, a
happy old age, prolonged to the term fixed by fate, when he must resign
himself to close his eyes for ever to the light of day. If, on the
contrary, he is wicked, violent, one whose word cannot be trusted, “his
god cuts him down like a reed,” extirpates his race, shortens his days,
delivers him over to demons who possess themselves of his body and
afflict it with sicknesses before finally despatching him. Penitence
is of avail against the evil of sin, and serves to re-establish a right
course of life, but its efficacy is not permanent, and the moment at
last arrives in which death, getting the upper hand, carries its victim
away. The Chaldaeans had not such clear ideas as to what awaited them in
the other world as the Egyptians possessed: whilst the tomb, the mummy,
the perpetuity of the funeral revenues, and the safety of the double,
were the engrossing subjects in Egypt, the Chaldaean texts are almost
entirely silent as to the condition of the soul, and the living seem to
have had no further concern about the dead than to get rid of them
as quickly and as completely as possible. They did not believe that
everything was over at the last breath, but they did not on that account
think that the fate of that which survived was indissolubly associated
with the perishable part, and that the disembodied soul was either
annihilated or survived, according as the flesh in which it was
sustained was annihilated or survived in the tomb. The soul was
doubtless not utterly unconcerned about the fate of the _larva_ it had
quitted: its pains were intensified on being despoiled of its earthly
case if the latter were mutilated, or left without sepulture, a prey
to the fowls, of the air. This feeling, however, was not sufficiently
developed to create a desire for escape from corruption entirely, and to
cause a resort to the mummifying process of the Egyptians.

[Illustration: 208.jpg DECORATED WRAPPINGS FROM A MUMMY (Color)]

The Chaldaeans did not subject the body, therefore, to those injections,
to those prolonged baths in preserving fluids, to that laborious
swaddling which rendered it indestructible; whilst the family wept and
lamented, old women who exercised the sad function of mourners washed
the dead body, perfumed it, clad it in its best apparel, painted its
cheeks, blackened its eyelids, placed a collar on its neck, rings on its
fingers, arranged its arms upon its breast, and stretched it on a bed,
setting up at its head a little altar for the customary offerings of
water, incense, and cakes.

[Illustration: 209.jpg Chaldaean coffin in the form of a jar]

[Illustration: 209a.jpg A VAULTED TOMB IN URU]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Taylor.

[Illustration: 210.jpg CHALDAEAN TOMB WITH DOMED ROOF.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Taylor.

Evil spirits, prowled incessantly around the dead bodies of the
Chaldaeans, either to feed upon them, or to use them in their sorcery:
should they succeed in slipping into a corpse, from that moment it could
be metamorphosed into a vampire, and return to the world to suck the
blood of the living. The Chaldaeans were, therefore, accustomed to invite
by prayers beneficent genii and gods to watch over the dead. Two of
these would take their invisible places at the head and foot of the bed,
and wave their hands in the act of blessing: these were the vassals
of Ea, and, like their master, were usually clad in fish-skins. Others
placed themselves in the sepulchral chamber, and stood ready to strike
any one who dared to enter: these had human figures, or lions’ heads
joined to the bodies of men. Others, moreover, hovered over the house in
order to drive off the spectres who might endeavour to enter through the
roof. During the last hours in which the dead body remained among its
kindred, it reposed under the protection of a legion of gods.

We must not expect to find on the plains of the Euphrates the rock-cut
tombs, the mastabas or pyramids, of Egypt. No mountain chain ran on
either side of the river, formed of rock soft enough to be cut and
hollowed easily into chambers or sepulchral halls, and at the same time
sufficiently hard to prevent the tunnels once cut from falling in.

[Illustration: 111.jpg CHALDEAN TOMB WITH FLAT ROOF.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Taylor.

The alluvial soil upon which the Chaldaean cities were built, far from,
preserving the dead body, rapidly decomposed it under the influence of
heat and moisture: vaults constructed in it would soon be invaded by
water in spite of masonry; paintings and sculpture would soon be
eaten away by nitre, and the funereal furniture and the coffin quickly
destroyed. The dwelling-house of the Chaldaean dead could not, therefore,
properly be called, as those of Egypt, an “eternal house.” It was
constructed of dried or burnt brick, and its form varied much from
the most ancient times. Sometimes it was a great vaulted chamber, the
courses forming the roof being arranged corbel-wise, and contained the
remains of one or two bodies walled up within it.* At other times
it consisted merely of an earthen jar, in which the corpse had
been inserted in a bent-up posture, or was composed of two enormous
cylindrical jars, which, when united and cemented with bitumen, formed a
kind of barrel around the body. Other tombs are represented by wretched
structures, sometimes oval and sometimes round in shape, placed upon a
brick base and covered by a flat or domed roof. The interior was not of
large dimensions, and to enter it was necessary to stoop to a creeping
posture. The occupant of the smallest chambers was content to have with
him his linen, his ornaments, some bronze arrowheads, and metal or clay
vessels. Others contained furniture which, though not as complete as
that found in Egyptian sepulchres, must have ministered to all the
needs of the spirit. The body was stretched, fully clothed, upon a
mat impregnated with bitumen, the head supported by a cushion or flat
brick,** the arms laid across the breast, and the shroud adjusted by
bands to the loins and legs. Sometimes the corpse was placed on its left
side, with the legs slightly bent, and the right hand, extending
over the left shoulder, was inserted into a vase, as if to convey the
contents to the mouth.

     * Vaulted chambers are confined chiefly to the ancient
     cemeteries of Uru at Mugheir; they are rather over six to
     seven feet long, with a breadth of five and a half feet. The
     walls are not quite perpendicular, but are somewhat splayed
     up to two-thirds of their height, where they begin to narrow
     into the vaulted roof.

     ** The object placed under the head of the skeleton is the
     dried brick mentioned in the text; the vessel to which the
     hand is stretched out was of copper; the other vessels were
     of earthenware, and contained water, or dates, of which the
     stones were found. The small cylinders on the side were of
     stone; the two large cylinders, between the copper vessel
     and those of earthenware, were pieces of bamboo, of whose
     use we are ignorant.

[Illustration: 213.jpg THE INTERIOR OF THE TOMB]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Taylor

Clay jars and dishes, arranged around the body, contained the food and
drink required for the dead man’s daily fare--his favourite wine,
dates, fish, fowl, game, occasionally also a boar’s head--and even stone
representations of provisions, which, like those of Egypt, were lasting
substitutes for the reality. The dead man required weapons also to
enable him to protect his food-store, and his lance, javelins and baton
of office were placed alongside him, together with a cylinder bearing
his name, which he had employed as his seal in his lifetime. Beside
the body of a woman or young girl was arranged an abundance of spare
ornaments, flowers, scent-bottles, combs, cosmetic pencils, and cakes
of the black paste with which they were accustomed to paint the eyebrows
and the edges of the eyelids.

Cremation seems in many cases to have been preferred to burial in a
tomb. The funeral pile was constructed at some distance from the town,
on a specially reserved area in the middle of the marshes. The body,
wrapped up in coarse matting, was placed upon a heap of reeds and rushes
saturated with bitumen: a brick wall, coated with moist clay, was built
around this to circumscribe the action of the flames, and, the customary
prayers having been recited, the pile was set on fire, masses of fresh
material, together with the funerary furniture and usual viaticum,
being added to the pyre. When the work of cremation was considered to
be complete, the fire was extinguished, and an examination made of the
residue. It frequently happened that only the most accessible and most
easily destroyed parts of the body had been attacked by the flames, and
that there remained a black and disfigured mass which the fire had
not consumed. The previously prepared coating of mud was then made to
furnish a clay covering for the body, so as to conceal the sickening
spectacle from the view of the relatives and spectators. Sometimes,
however, the furnace accomplished its work satisfactorily, and there was
nothing to be seen at the end but greasy ashes and scraps of calcined
bones. The remains were frequently left where they were, and the funeral
pile became their tomb. They were, however, often collected and disposed
of in a manner which varied with their more or less complete combustion.
Bodies insufficiently burnt were interred in graves, or in public
chapels; while the ashes of those fully cremated, together with the
scraps of bones and the _debris_ of the offerings, were placed in long
urns. The heat had contorted the weapons and half melted the vessels
of copper; and the deceased was thus obliged to be content with the
fragments only of the things provided for him. These were, however,
sufficient for the purpose, and his possessions, once put to the test
of the flames, now accompanied him whither he went: water alone was
lacking, but provision was made for this by the construction on the
spot of cisterns to collect it. For this purpose several cylinders of
pottery, some twenty inches broad, were inserted in the ground one
above the other from a depth of from ten to twelve feet, and the last
cylinder, reaching the level of the ground, was provided with a narrow
neck, through which the rainwater or infiltrations from the river flowed
into this novel cistern. Many examples of these are found in one and the
same chamber,* thus giving the soul an opportunity of finding water in
one or other of them. The tombs at Uruk, arranged closely together
with coterminous walls, and gradually covered by the sand or by the
accumulation and _debris_ of new tombs, came at length to form an actual
mound. In cities where space was less valuable, and where they were free
to extend, the tombs quickly disappeared without leaving any vestiges
above the surface, and it would now be necessary to turn up a great
deal of rubbish before discovering their remains. The Chaldaea of to-day
presents the singular aspect of a country almost without cemeteries, and
one would be inclined to think that its ancient inhabitants had taken
pains to hide them.** The sepulture of royal personages alone furnishes
us with monuments of which we can determine the site. At Babylon these
were found in the ancient palaces in which the living were no longer
inclined to dwell: that of Shargina, for instance, furnished a
burying-place for kings more than two thousand years after the death
of its founder. The chronicles devoutly indicate the spot where each
monarch, when his earthly reign was over, found a last resting-place;
and where, as the subject of a ceremonial worship similar to that of
Egypt, his memory was preserved from the oblivion which had overtaken
most of his illustrious subjects.

     * The German expedition of 1886-87 found four of these
     reservoirs in a single chamber, and nine distributed in the
     chambers of a house entirely devoted to the burial of the
     dead.

     ** Various explanations have been offered to account for
     this absence of tombs, Without mentioning the desperate
     attempt to get rid of the difficulty by the assumption that
     the dead bodies were cast into the river, Loftus thinks that
     the Chaldaeans and Assyrians were accustomed to send them to
     some sanctuary in Southern Chaldaea, especially to Uru and
     Uruk, whose vast cemeteries, he contends, would have
     absorbed during the centuries the greater part of the
     Euphratean population; his opinion has been adopted by some
     historians, and, as far only as the later period is
     concerned, by Hommel.

The dead man, or rather that part of him which survived--his
“ekimmu”--dwelt in the tomb, and it was for his comfort that there were
provided, at the time of sepulture or cremation, the provisions and
clothing, the ornaments and weapons, of which he was considered to stand
in need. Furnished with these necessities by his children and heirs, he
preserved for the donors the same affection which he had felt for them
in his lifetime, and gave evidence of it in every way he could, watching
over their welfare, and protecting them from malign influences. If
they abandoned or forgot him, he avenged himself for their neglect by
returning to torment them in their homes, by letting sickness attack
them, and by ruining them with his imprecations: he became thus no
less hurtful than the “luminous ghost” of the Egyptians, and if he were
accidentally deprived of sepulture, he would not be merely a plague
to his relations, but a danger to the entire city. The dead, who were
unable to earn an honest living, showed little pity to those who were
in the same position as themselves: when a new-comer arrived among them
without prayers, libations, or offerings, they declined to receive him,
and would not give him so much as a piece of bread out of their meagre
store. The spirit of the unburied dead man, having neither place of
repose nor means of subsistence, wandered through the town and country,
occupied with no other thought than that of attacking and robbing the
living. He it was who, gliding into the house during the night, revealed
himself to its inhabitants with such a frightful visage as to drive them
distracted with terror. Always on the watch, no sooner does he surprise
one of his victims than he falls upon him, “his head against his
victim’s head, his hand against his hand, his foot against his foot.”
 He who has been thus attacked, whether man or beast, would undoubtedly
perish if magic were not able to furnish its all-powerful defence
against this deadly embrace.* This human survival, who is so forcibly
represented both in his good and evil aspects, was nevertheless nothing
more than a sort of vague and fluid existence--a double, in fact,
analogous in appearance to that of the Egyptians.

     * The majority of the spells employed against sickness
     contain references to the spirits against which they
     contend--“the wicked ekimmu who oppresses men during the
     night,” or simply “the wicked ekimmu,” the ghost.

With the faculty of roaming at will through space, and of going forth
from and returning to his abode, it was impossible to regard him as
condemned always to dwell in the case of terra-cotta in which his body
lay mouldering: he was transferred, therefore, or rather he
transferred himself, into the dark land--the Aralu--situated very far
away--according to some, beneath the surface of the earth; according to
others, in the eastern or northern extremities of the universe. A river
which opens into this region and separates it from the sunlit earth,
finds its source in the primordial waters into whose bosom this world
of ours is plunged. This dark country is surrounded by seven high walls,
and is approached through seven gates, each of which is guarded by a
pitiless warder. Two deities rule within it--Nergal, “the lord of the
great city,” and Beltis-Allat, “the lady of the great land,” whither
everything which has breathed in this world descends after death. A
legend relates that Allat, called in Sumerian Erishkigal, reigned alone
in Hades, and was invited by the gods to a feast which they had prepared
in heaven. Owing to her hatred of the light, she sent a refusal by her
messenger Narntar, who acquitted himself on this mission with such a
bad grace, that Ann and Ea were incensed against his mistress, and
commissioned Nergal to descend and chastise her; he went, and finding
the gates of hell open, dragged the queen by her hair from the throne,
and was about to decapitate her, but she mollified him by her prayers,
and saved her life by becoming his wife. The nature of Nergal fitted
him well to play the part of a prince of the departed: for he was the
destroying sun of summer, and the genius of pestilence and battle. His
functions, however, in heaven and earth took up so much of his time
that he had little leisure to visit his nether kingdom, and he was
consequently obliged to content himself with the _role_ of providing
subjects for it by despatching thither the thousands of recruits which
he gathered daily from the abodes of men or from the field of battle.
Allat was the actual sovereign of the country. She was represented with
the body of a woman, ill-formed and shaggy, the grinning muzzle of a
lion, and the claws of a bird of prey. She brandished in each hand a
large serpent--a real animated javelin, whose poisonous bite inflicted
a fatal wound upon the enemy. Her children were two lions, which she is
represented as suckling, and she passed through her empire, not seated
in the saddle, but standing upright or kneeling on the back of a
horse, which seems oppressed by her weight. Sometimes she set out on
an expedition upon the river which communicates with the countries
of light, in order to meet the procession of newly arrived souls
ceaselessly despatched to her: she embarked in this case upon an
enchanted vessel, which made its way without sail or oars, its prow
projecting like the beak of a bird, and its stern terminating in the
head of an ox. She overcomes all resistance, and nothing can escape from
her: the gods themselves can pass into her empire only on the condition
of submitting to death like mortals, and of humbly avowing themselves
her slaves.

[Illustration: 220.jpg THE GODDESS ALLAT PASSES THROUGH THE NETHER
REGIONS IN HER BARK.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze plaque of which an
     engraving was published by Clermont-Ganneau. The original,
     which belonged to M. Peretie, is now in the collection of M.
     de Clercq

[Illustration: 221.jpg NERGAL, THE GOD OF HADES; BACK VIEW.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin. This is the back of the bronze plate
     represented on the preceding page; the animal-head of the
     god appears in relief at the top of the illustration.

The warders at the gates despoiled the new-comers of everything which
they had brought with them, and conducted them in a naked condition
before Allat, who pronounced sentence upon them, and assigned to each
his place in the nether world. The good or evil committed on earth by
such souls was of little moment in determining the sentence: to secure
the favour of the judge, it was of far greater importance to have
exhibited devotion to the gods and to Allat herself, to have lavished
sacrifices and offerings upon them and to have enriched their temples.
The souls which could not justify themselves were subjected to horrible
punishment: leprosy consumed them to the end of time, and the most
painful maladies attacked them, to torture them ceaselessly without any
hope of release. Those who were fortunate enough to be spared from
her rage, dragged out a miserable and joyless existence. They were
continually suffering from the pangs of thirst and hunger, and found
nothing to satisfy their appetites but clay and dust. They shivered with
cold, and they obtained no other garment to protect them than mantles of
feathers--the great silent wings of the night-birds, invested with which
they fluttered about and filled the air with their screams. This gloomy
and cruel conception of ordinary life in this strange kingdom was still
worse than the idea formed of the existence in the tomb to which it
succeeded. In the cemetery the soul was, at least, alone with the dead
body; in the house of Allat, on the contrary, it was lost as it were
among spirits as much afflicted as itself, and among the genii born of
darkness. None of these genii had a simple form, or approached the
human figure in shape; each individual was a hideous medley of human
and animal parts, in which the most repellent features were artistically
combined. Lions’ heads stood out from the bodies of scorpion-tailed
jackals, whose feet were armed with eagles’ claws: and among such
monsters the genii of pestilence, fever, and the south-west wind took
the chief place. When once the dead had become naturalized among this
terrible population, they could not escape from their condition,
unless by the exceptional mandate of the gods above. They possessed
no recollection of what they had done upon earth. Domestic affection,
friendships, and the memory of good offices rendered to one
another,--all were effaced from their minds: nothing remained there but
an inexpressible regret at having been exiled from the world of light,
and an excruciating desire to reach it once more. The threshold of
Allat’s palace stood upon a spring which had the property of restoring
to life all who bathed in it or drank of its waters: they gushed forth
as soon as the stone was raised, but the earth-spirits guarded it with a
jealous care, and kept at a distance all who attempted to appropriate a
drop of it. They permitted access to it only by order of Ea himself, or
one of the supreme gods, and even then with a rebellious heart at seeing
their prey escape them. Ancient legends related how the shepherd Dumuzi,
son of Ea and Damkina, having excited the love of Ishtar while he was
pasturing his flocks under the mysterious tree of Eridu, which covers
the earth with its shade, was chosen by the goddess from among all
others to be the spouse of her youth, and how, being mortally wounded by
a wild boar, he was cast into the kingdom of Allat. One means remained
by which he might be restored to the light of day: his wounds must be
washed in the waters of the wonderful spring, and Ishtar resolved to
go in quest of this marvellous liquid. The undertaking was fraught with
danger, for no one might travel to the infernal regions without having
previously gone through the extreme terrors of death, and even the gods
themselves could not transgress this fatal law. “To the land without
return, to the land which thou knowest--Ishtar, the daughter of Sin,
turned her thoughts: she, the daughter of Sin, turned her thoughts--to
the house of darkness, the abode of Irkalla--to the house from which he
who enters can never emerge--to the path upon which he who goes shall
never come back--to the house into which he who enters bids farewell
to the light--the place where dust is nourishment and clay is food; the
light is not seen, darkness is the dwelling, where the garments are the
wings of birds--where dust accumulates on door and bolt.” Ishtar
arrives at the porch, she knocks at it, she addresses the guardian in an
imperious voice: “‘Guardian of the waters, open thy gate--open thy
gate that I may enter, even I.--If thou openest not the door that I may
enter, even I,--I will burst open the door, I will break the bars, I
will break the threshold, I will burst in the panels, I will excite the
dead that they may eat the living,--and the dead shall be more numerous
than the living.’--The guardian opened his mouth and spake, he announced
to the mighty Ishtar: ‘Stop, O lady, and do not overturn the door until
I go and apprise the Queen Allat of thy name.’ Allat hesitates, and then
gives him permission to receive the goddess: ‘Go, guardian, open the
gate to her--but treat her according to the ancient laws. Mortals
enter naked into the world, and naked must they leave it: and since
Ishtar has decided to accept their lot, she too must be prepared to
divest herself of her garments.’” The guardian went, he opened his mouth:
‘Enter, my lady, and may Kutha rejoice--may the palace and the land
without return exult in thy presence! ‘He causes her to pass through the
first gate, divests her, removes the great crown from her head:--‘Why,
guardian, dost thou remove the great crown from my head?’--‘Enter, my
lady, such is the law of Allat.’ The second gate, he causes her to pass
through it, he divests her--removes the rings from her ears:--‘Why,
guardian, dost thou remove the rings from my ears?’--‘Enter, my lady,
such is the law of Allat.’” And from gate to gate he removes some
ornament from the distressed lady--now her necklace with its attached
amulets, now the tunic which covers her bosom, now her enamelled girdle,
her bracelets, and the rings on her ankles: and at length, at the
seventh gate, takes from her her last covering. When she at length
arrives in the presence of Allat, she throws herself upon her in order
to wrest from her in a terrible struggle the life of Dumuzi; but Allat
sends for Namtar, her messenger of misfortune, to punish, the rebellious
Ishtar. “Strike her eyes with the affliction of the eyes--strike
her loins with the affliction of the loins--strike her feet with the
affliction of the feet--strike her heart with the affliction of the
heart--strike her head with the affliction of the head--strike violently
at her, at her whole body!” While Ishtar was suffering the torments of
the infernal regions, the world of the living was wearing mourning on
account of her death. In the absence of the goddess of love, the rites
of love could no longer be performed. The passions of animals and men
were suspended. If she did not return quickly to the daylight, the
races of men and animals would become extinct, the earth would become a
desert, and the gods would have neither votaries nor offerings.

[Illustration: 226.jpg ISHTAR DESPOILED OF HER GARMENTS IN HADES]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio in the
     Hague Museum. Salomon Reinach has demonstrated that the
     naked figure is not the goddess herself, but a statue of the
     goddess which was adored in one of the temples.

“Papsukal, the servant of the great gods, tore his face before
Shamash--clothed in mourning, filled with sorrow. Shamash went--he
wept in the presence of Sin, his father,--and his tears flowed in the
presence of Ea, the king:--‘Ishtar has gone down into the earth, and
she has not come up again!--And ever since Ishtar has descended into
the land without return... [the passions of men and beasts have been
suspended]... the master goes to sleep while giving his command, the
servant goes to sleep on his duty.’” The resurrection of the goddess
is the only remedy for such ills, but this is dependent upon the
resurrection of Damuzi: Ishtar will never consent to reappear in the
world, if she cannot bring back her husband with her. Ea, the supreme
god, the infallible executor of the divine will--he who alone can modify
the laws imposed upon creation--at length decides to accord to her
what she desires. “Ea, in the wisdom of his heart, formed a male
being,--formed Uddushunamir, the servant of the gods:--‘Go then,
Uddushunamir, turn thy face towards the gate of the land without return;
--the seven gates of the land without return--may they become open at
thy presence--may Allat behold thee, and rejoice in thy presence! When
her heart shall be calm, and her wrath appeased, charm her in the name
of the great gods--turn thy thoughts to the spring’--‘May the spring, my
lady, give me of its waters that I may drink of them.’” Allat broke
out into a terrible rage, when she saw herself obliged to yield to her
rival; “she beat her sides, she gnawed her fingers,” she broke out into
curses against the messenger of misfortune. “‘Thou hast expressed to me
a wish which should not be made!--Fly, Uddushunamir, or I will shut thee
up in the great prison--the mud of the drains of the city shall be thy
food--the gutters of the town shall be thy drink--the shadow of
the walls shall be thy abode--the thresholds shall be thy
habitation--confinement and isolation shall weaken thy strength.’”* She
is obliged to obey, notwithstanding; she calls her messenger Namtar and
commands him to make all the preparations for resuscitating the goddess.
It was necessary to break the threshold of the palace in order to get at
the spring, and its waters would have their full effect only in presence
of the Anunnas. “Namtar went, he rent open the eternal palace,--he
twisted the uprights so that the stones of the threshold trembled;--he
made the Anunnaki come forth, and seated them on thrones of gold,--he
poured upon Ishtar the waters of life, and brought her away.” She
received again at each gate the articles of apparel she had abandoned
in her passage across the seven circles of hell: as soon as she saw the
daylight once more, it was revealed to her that the fate of her husband
was henceforward in her own hands. Every year she must bathe him in pure
water, and anoint him with the most precious perfumes, clothe him in a
robe of mourning, and play to him sad airs upon a crystal flute, whilst
her priestesses intoned their doleful chants, and tore their breasts
in sorrow: his heart would then take fresh life, and his youth flourish
once more, from springtime to springtime, as long as she should
celebrate on his behalf the ceremonies already prescribed by the deities
of the infernal world.

     * It follows from this passage that Ishtar could be
     delivered only at the cost of another life: it was for this
     reason, doubtless, that Ea, instead of sending the ordinary
     messenger of the gods, created a special messenger. Allat,
     furious at the insignificance of the victim sent to her,
     contents herself with threatening Uddushanamir with an
     ignominious treatment if he does not escape as quickly as
     possible.

Dumuzi was a god, the lover, moreover, of a goddess, and the deity
succeeded where mortals failed.* Ea, Nebo, Gula, Ishtar, and their
fellows possessed, no doubt, the faculty of recalling the dead to life,
but they rarely made use of it on behalf of their creatures, and their
most pious votaries pleaded in vain from temple to temple for the
resurrection of their dead friends; they could never obtain the favour
which had been granted by Allat to Dumuzi.

     * Merodach is called “the merciful one who takes pleasure in
     raising the dead to life,” and “the lord of the pure
     libation,” the “merciful one who has power to give life.” In
     Jeremias may be found the list of the gods who up to the
     present are known to have had the power to resuscitate the
     dead; it is probable that this power belonged to all the
     gods and goddesses of the first rank.

[Illustration: 229.jpg DUMUZI REJUVENATED ON THE KNEES OF ISHTAR.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio.

When the dead body was once placed in the tomb, it rose up no more, it
could no more be reinstated in the place in the household it had
lost, it never could begin once more a new earthly existence. The
necromancers, indeed, might snatch away death’s prey for a few moments.
The earth gaped at the words of their invocations, the soul burst forth
like a puff of wind and answered gloomily the questions proposed to it;
but when the charm was once broken, it had to retrace its steps to
the country without return, to be plunged once more in darkness. This
prospect of a dreary and joyless eternity was not so terrifying to the
Chaldaeans as it was to the Egyptians. The few years of their earthly
existence were of far more concern to them than the endless ages which
were to begin their monotonous course on the morrow of their funeral.
The sum of good and evil fortune assigned to them by destiny they
preferred to spend continuously in the light of day on the fair plains
of the Euphrates and Tigris: if they were to economize during this
period with the view of laying up a posthumous treasure of felicity,
their store would have no current value beyond the tomb, and would thus
become so much waste. The gods, therefore, whom they served faithfully
would recoup them, here in their native city, with present prosperity,
with health, riches, power, glory, and a numerous offspring, for the
offerings of their devotion; while, if they irritated the deities
by their shortcomings, they had nothing to expect but overwhelming
calamities and sufferings. The gods would “cut them down like a reed,”
 and their “names would be annihilated, their seed destroyed;--they would
end their days in affliction and hunger,--their dead bodies would be at
the mercy of chance, and would receive no sepulture.” They were content
to resign themselves, therefore, to the dreary lot of eternal misery
which awaited them after death, provided they enjoyed in this world a
long and prosperous existence. Some of them felt and rebelled against
the injustice of the idea, which assigned one and the same fate, without
discrimination, to the coward and the hero killed on the battle-field,
to the tyrant and the mild ruler of his people, to the wicked and
the righteous. These therefore supposed that the gods would make
distinctions, that they would separate such heroes from the common herd,
welcome them in a fertile, sunlit island, separated from the abode of
men by the waters of death--the impassable river which leads to the
house of Allat. The tree of life flourished there, the spring of life
poured forth there its revivifying waters; thither Ea transferred
Xisuthros after the Deluge; Gilgames saw the shores of this island and
returned from it, strong and healthy as in the days of his youth. The
site of this region of delights was at first placed in the centre of
the marshes of the Euphrates, where this river flows into the sea;
afterwards when the country became better known, it was transferred
beyond the ocean. In proportion as the limits of the Chaldaean
horizon were thrust further and further away by mercantile or warlike
expeditions, this mysterious island was placed more and more to the
east, afterwards to the north, and at length at a distance so great that
it tended to vanish altogether. As a final resource, the gods of heaven
themselves became the hosts, and welcomed into their own kingdom the
purified souls of the heroes.

These souls were not so securely isolated from humanity that the
inhabitants of the world were not at times tempted to rejoin them before
their last hour had come. Just as Gilgames had dared of old the
dangers of the desert and the ocean in order to discover the island of
Khasisadra, so Etana darted through the air in order to ascend to the
sky of Anu, to become incorporated while still living in the choir of
the blessed. The legend gives an account of his friendship with the
eagle of Shamash, and of the many favours he had obtained from and
rendered to the bird. It happened at last, that his wife could not bring
forth the son which lay in her womb; the hero, addressing himself to
the eagle, asked from her the plant which alleviates the birth-pangs
of women and facilitates their delivery. This was only to be found,
however, in the heaven of Anu, and how could any one run the risk of
mounting so high, without being destroyed on the way by the anger of the
gods? The eagle takes pity upon the sorrow of his comrade, and resolves
to attempt the enterprise with him. “‘Friend,’ she says, ‘banish the
cloud from thy face! Come, and I will carry thee to the heaven of the
god Anu. Place thy breast against my breast--place thy two hands upon
the pinions of my wings--place thy side against my side.’ He places his
breast against the breast of the eagle, he places his two hands upon the
pinions of the wings, he places his side against her side;--he adjusts
himself firmly, and his weight was great.” The Chaldaean artists have
more than once represented the departure of the hero. They exhibit him
closely attached to the body of his ally, and holding her in a strong
embrace. A first flight has already lifted them above the earth, and the
shepherds scattered over the country are stupefied at the unaccustomed
sight: one announces the prodigy to another, while their dogs seated at
their feet extend their muzzles as if in the act of howling with terror.
“For the space of a double hour the eagle bore him--then the eagle spake
to him, to him Etana: ‘Behold, my friend, the earth what it is; regard
the sea which the ocean contains! See, the earth is no more than a
mountain, and the sea is no more than a lake.’ The space of a second
double hour she bore him, then the eagle spake to him, to him Etana:
‘Behold, my friend, the earth what it is; the sea appears as the girdle
of the earth! ‘The space of a third double hour she bore him, then the
eagle spake to him, to him Etana: ‘See, my friend, the earth, what it
is:--the sea is no more than the rivulet made by a gardener.’”

[Illustration: 233.jpg ETANA CARRIED TO HEAVEN BY AN EAGLE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio.

“They at length arrive at the heaven of Anu, and rest there for a
moment. Etana sees around him nothing but empty space--no living thing
within it--not even a bird: he is struck with terror, but the eagle
reassures him, and tells him to proceed on his way to the heaven of
Ishtar. “‘Come, my friend, let me bear thee to Ishtar,--and I will place
thee near Ishtar, the lady,--and at the feet of Ishtar, the lady, thou
shalt throw thyself.--Place thy side against my side, place thy hands
on the pinions of my wings.’ The space of a double hour she bore him:
‘Friend, behold the earth what it is.--The face of the earth stretches
out quite flat--and the sea is no greater than a mere.’ The space of
a second double hour she bore him: ‘Friend, behold the earth what it
is,--the earth is no more than a square plot in a garden, and the great
sea is not greater than a puddle of water.’” At the third hour Etana
lost courage, and cried, “Stop!” and the eagle immediately descended
again; but, Etana’s strength being exhausted, he let go his hold, and
was dashed to pieces on the ground.

The eagle escaped unhurt this time, but she soon suffered a more painful
death than that of Etana. She was at war with the serpent, though the
records which we as yet possess do not vouchsafe the reason, when she
discovered in the roots of a tree the nest in which her enemy concealed
its brood. She immediately proposed to her young ones to pounce down
upon the growing snakes; one of her eaglets, wiser than the rest,
reminded her that they were under the protection of Shamash, the great
righter of wrongs, and cautioned her against any transgression of the
divine laws. The old eagle felt herself wiser than her son, and rebuked
him after the manner of wise mothers: she carried away the serpent’s
young, and gave them as food to her own brood. The hissing serpent
crawled as far as Shamash, crying for vengeance: “The evil she has done
me, Shamash--behold it! Come to my help, Shamash! thy net is as wide as
the earth--thy snares reach to the distant mountain--who can escape
thy net?--The criminal Zu, Zu who was the first to act wickedly, did he
escape it?” Shamash refused to interfere personally, but he pointed out
to the serpent an artifice by which he might satisfy his vengeance as
securely as if Shamash himself had accomplished it. “Set out upon the
way, ascend the mountain,--and conceal thyself in a dead bull;--make
an incision in his inside--tear open his belly,--take up thy
abode--establish thyself in his belly. All the birds of the air will
pounce upon it....--and the eagle herself will come with them, ignorant
that thou art within it;--she will wish to possess herself of the
flesh, she will come swiftly--she will think of nothing but the entrails
within. As soon as she begins to attack the inside, seize her by her
wings, beat down her wings, the pinions of her wings and her claws, tear
her and throw her into a ravine of the mountain, that she may die there
a death of hunger and thirst.”

The serpent did as Shamash advised, and the birds of the air began to
flock round the carcase in which she was hidden. The eagle came with the
rest, and at first kept aloof, looking for what should happen. When she
saw that the birds flew away unharmed all fear left her. In vain did the
wise eaglet warn her of the danger that was lurking within the prey; she
mocked at him and his predictions, dug her beak into the carrion, and
the serpent leaping out seized her by the wing. Then “the eagle her
mouth opened, and spake unto the snake, ‘Have mercy upon me, and
according to thy pleasure a gift I will lavish upon thee!’ The snake
opened her mouth and spake unto the eagle, ‘Did I release thee, Shamash
would take part against me; and the doom would fall upon me, which now
I fulfil upon thee.’ She tore out her wings, her feathers, her pinions;
she tore her to pieces, she threw her into a cleft, and there she died a
death of hunger and of thirst.”

The gods allowed no living being to penetrate with impunity into their
empire: he who was desirous of ascending thither, however brave he might
be, could do so only by death. The mass of humanity had no pretensions
to mount so high. Their religion gave them the choice between a
perpetual abode in the tomb, or confinement in the prison of Allat; if
at times they strove to escape from these alternatives, and to picture
otherwise their condition in the world beyond, their ideas as to the
other life continued to remain vague, and never approached the minute
precision of the Egyptian conception. The cares of the present life were
too absorbing to allow them leisure to speculate upon the conditions of
a future existence.

[Illustration: 230.jpg Endplate]



CHAPTER III--CHALDAEAN CIVILIZATION


_CHALDAEAN CIVILIZATION--ROYALTY--THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FAMILY AND ITS
PROPERTY--CHALMAN COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY._

_The kings not gods, but the vicegerents of the gods: their sacerdotal
character--The queens and the women of the royal family: the sons and
the order of succession to the throne--The royal palaces: description
of the palace of Gudea at Lagash, the facades, the zigurat, the private
apartments, the furniture, the external decoration--Costume of the
men and women: the employees of the palace and the method of royal
administration; the military and the great lords._

_The scribe and the clay books.--Cuneiform writing: its hieroglyphic
origin; the Protean character of the sounds which may be assigned to the
ideograms, grammatical tablets, and dictionaries--Their contracts, and
their numerous copies of them: the finger-nail mark, the seal._

_The constitution of the family: the position held by the
wife--Marriage, the contract, the religious ceremonies--Divorce:
the rights of wealthy women; woman and marriage among the lower
classes--Adopted children, their position in the family; ordinary
motives for adoption--Slaves, their condition, their enfranchisement._

_The Chaldaean towns: the aspect and distribution of the houses, domestic
life--The family patrimony: division of the inheritance--Lending
on usury, the rate of interest, commercial intercourse by land and
sea--Trade corporations: brick-making, industrial implements in stone
and metal, goldsmiths, engravers of cylinders, weavers; the state of the
working classes._

_Farming and cultivation of the ground: landmarks, slaves,
and agricultural labourers--Scenes of pastoral life: fishing,
hunting--Archaic literature; positive sciences: arithmetic and geometry,
astronomy and astrology, the science of foretelling the future--The
physician; magic and its influence on neighbouring countries._

[Illustration: 239.jpg CHAPTER III.]

     Drawn by Boudier, from the sketch by Loftus. The initial
     vignette, which is by Faucher-Gudin, represents a royal
     figure kneeling and holding a large nail in both hands. The
     nail serves to keep the figure fixed firmly in the earth. It
     is a reproduction of the bronze figurine in the Louvre,
     already published by Heuzey-Sakzeo, _Decouvertes en
     Chaldee_, pl. 28, No. 4.



CHAPTER III--CHALDAEAN CIVILIZATION


_Royalty--The constitution of the family and its property--Chaldaean
commerce and industry_.


The Chaldaean kings, unlike their contemporaries the Pharaohs, rarely
put forward any pretensions to divinity. They contented themselves with
occupying an intermediate position between their subjects and the gods,
and for the purpose of mediation they believed themselves to be endowed
with powers not possessed by ordinary mortals. They sometimes designated
themselves the sons of Ea, or of Ninsun, or some other deity, but
this involved no belief in a divine parentage, and was merely pious
hyperbole: they entertained no illusions with regard to any descent from
a god or even from one of his doubles, but they desired to be recognized
as his vicegerents here below, as his prophets, his well-beloved,
his pastors, elected by him to rule his human flocks, or as priests
devotedly attached to his service. While, however, the ordinary priest
chose for himself a single master to whom he devoted himself, the
priest-king exercised universal sacerdotal functions and claimed to be
pontiff of all the national religions. His choice naturally was directed
by preference to the patrons of his city, those who had raised his
ancestors from the dust, and had exalted him to the supreme rank, but
there were other divinities who claimed their share of his homage
and expected of him a devotion suited to their importance. If he had
attempted to carry out these duties personally in detail, he would have
had to spend his whole life at the foot of the altar; even when he had
delegated as many of them as he could to the regular clergy, there still
remained sufficient to occupy a large part of his time. Every month,
every day, brought its inevitable round of sacrifices, prayers, and
processions. On the 1st of the second Elul, the King of Babylon had to
present a gazelle without blemish to Sin; he then made an offering of
his own choosing to Shamash, and cut the throats of his victims
before the god. These ceremonies were repeated on the 2nd without any
alteration, but from the 3rd to the 12th they took place during the
night, before the statues of Merodach and Ishtar, in turn with those
of Nebo and Tashmit, of Mullil and Ninlil, of Eamman and of Zirbanit;
sometimes at the rising of a particular constellation--as, for instance,
that of the Great Bear, or that of the sons of Ishtar; sometimes at the
moment when the moon “raised above the earth her luminous crown.” On such
a date a penitential psalm or a litany was to be recited; at another
time it was forbidden to eat of meat either cooked or smoked, to change
the body-linen, to wear white garments, to drink medicine, to sacrifice,
to put forth an edict, or to drive out in a chariot. Not only at
Babylon, but everywhere else, obedience to the religious rites weighed
heavily on the local princes; at Uru, at Lagash, at Nipur, and in
the ruling cities of Upper and Lower Chaldaea. The king, as soon as he
succeeded to the throne, repaired to the temple to receive his solemn
investiture, which differed in form according to the gods he worshipped:
at Babylon, he addressed himself to the statue of Bel-Merodach in the
first days of the month Nisan which followed his accession, and he “took
him by the hands” to do homage to him. From thenceforth, he officiated
for Merodach here below, and the scrupulously minute devotions, which
daily occupied hours of his time, were so many acts of allegiance which
his fealty as a vassal constrained him to perform to his suzerain. They
were, in fact, analogous to the daily audiences demanded of a great
lord by his steward, for the purpose of rendering his accounts and of
informing him of current business: any interruption not justified by a
matter of supreme importance would be liable to be interpreted as a want
of respect or as revealing an inclination to rebel. By neglecting the
slightest ceremonial detail the king would arouse the suspicions of
the gods, and excite their anger against himself and his subjects: the
people had, therefore, a direct interest in his careful fulfilment of
the priestly functions, and his piety was not the least of his virtues
in their eyes. All other virtues--bravery, equity, justice--depended on
it, and were only valuable from the divine aid which piety obtained for
them. The gods and heroes of the earliest ages had taken upon themselves
the task of protecting the faithful from all their enemies, whether men
or beasts. If a lion decimated their flocks, or a urus of gigantic size
devastated their crops, it was the king’s duty to follow the example
of his fabulous predecessors and to set out and overcome them. The
enterprise demanded all the more courage and supernatural help, since
these beasts were believed to be no mere ordinary animals, but were
looked on as instruments of divine wrath the cause of which was often
unknown, and whoever assailed these monsters, provoked not only them but
the god who instigated them. Piety and confidence in the patron of the
city alone sustained the king when he set forth to drive the animal back
to its lair; he engaged in close combat with it, and no sooner had he
pierced it with his arrows or his lance, or felled it with axe and
dagger, than he hastened to pour a libation upon it, and to dedicate it
as a trophy in one of the temples. His exalted position entailed on him
no less perils in time of war: if he did not personally direct the first
attacking column, he placed himself at the head of the band composed of
the flower of the army, whose charge at an opportune moment was wont to
secure the victory.

What would have been the use of his valour, if the dread of the gods had
not preceded his march, and if the light of their countenances had not
struck terror into the ranks of the enemy? As soon as he had triumphed
by their command, he sought before all else to reward them amply for the
assistance they had given him. He poured a tithe of the spoil into the
coffers of their treasury, he made over a part of the conquered country
to their domain, he granted them a tale of the prisoners to cultivate
their lands or to work at their buildings. Even the idols of the
vanquished shared the fate of their people: the king tore them from
the sanctuaries which had hitherto sheltered them, and took them as
prisoners in his train to form a court of captive gods about his patron
divinity. Shamash, the great judge of heaven, inspired him with justice,
and the prosperity which his good administration obtained for the people
was less the work of the sovereign than that of the immortals.

We know too little of the inner family life of the kings, to attempt
to say how they were able to combine the strict sacerdotal obligations
incumbent on them with the routine of daily life. We merely observe that
on great days of festival or sacrifice, when they themselves officiated,
they laid aside all the insignia of royalty during the ceremony and were
clad as ordinary priests. We see them on such occasions represented
with short-cut hair and naked breast, the loin-cloth about their waist,
advancing foremost in the rank, carrying the heavily laden “kufa,” or
reed basket, as if they were ordinary slaves; and, as a fact, they
had for the moment put aside their sovereignty and were merely temple
servants, or slaves appearing before their divine master to do his
bidding, and disguising themselves for the nonce in the garb of
servitors. The wives of the sovereign do not seem to have been invested
with that semi-sacred character which led the Egyptian women to be
associated with the devotions of the man, and made them indispensable
auxiliaries in all religious ceremonies; they did not, moreover, occupy
that important position side by side with the man which the Egyptian
law assigned to the queens of the Pharaohs. Whereas the monuments on the
banks of the Nile reveal to us princesses sharing the throne of their
husbands whom they embrace with a gesture of frank affection, in Chaldaea
the wives of the prince, his mother, sisters, daughters, and even his
slaves, remain invisible to posterity.

[Illustration: 244.jpg THE KING URNINA BEARING THE “KUFA.”]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey Sarzec.

The harem in which they were shut up by custom, rarely opened its doors:
the people seldom caught sight of them, their relatives spoke of them
as little as possible, those in power avoided associating them in any
public acts of worship or government, and we could count on our fingers
the number of those whom the inscriptions mention by name. Some of them
were drawn from the noble families of the capital, others came from the
kingdoms of Chaldaea or from foreign courts; a certain number never rose
above the condition of mere concubines, many assumed the title of queen,
while almost all served as living pledges of alliances made with rival
states, or had been given as hostages at the concluding of a peace on
the termination of a war.* As the kings, who put forward no pretensions
to a divine origin, were not constrained, after the fashion of the
Pharaohs, to marry their sisters in order to keep up the purity of their
race, it was rare to find one among their wives who possessed an equal
right to the crown with themselves: such a case could be found only in
troublous times, when an aspirant to the throne, of base extraction,
legitimated his usurpation by marrying a sister or daughter of his
predecessor.

     * Political marriage-alliances between Egypt and Chaldaea
     were of frequent occurrence, according to the Tel el-Amarna
     tablets, and at a later period between Chaldaea and Assyria;
     among the few queens of the very earliest times, the wife of
     Nammaghani is the daughter of Urbau, vicegerent of Lagash,
     and consequently the cousin or niece of her husband, while
     the wife of Rimsin appears to be the daughter of a nobleman
     of the name of Rimnannar.

The original status of the mother almost always determined that of her
children, and the sons of a princess were born princes, even if their
father were of obscure or unknown origin.* These princes exercised
important functions at court, or they received possessions which
they administered under the suzerainty of the head of the family;
the daughters were given to foreign kings, or to scions of the most
distinguished families. The sovereign was under no obligation to hand
down his crown to any particular member of his family; the eldest son
usually succeeded him, but the king could, if he preferred, select his
favourite child as his successor even if he happened to be the youngest,
or the only one born of a slave. As soon as the sovereign had made known
his will, the custom of primogeniture was set aside, and his word became
law. We can well imagine the secret intrigues formed both by mothers and
sons to curry favour with the father and bias his choice; we can picture
the jealousy with which they mutually watched each other, and the bitter
hatred which any preference shown to one would arouse in the breasts
of all the others. Often brothers who had been disappointed in their
expectations would combine secretly against the chosen or supposed heir;
a conspiracy would break out, and the people suddenly learn that their
ruler of yesterday had died by the hand of an assassin and that a new
one filled his place.

     * This fact is apparent from the introduction to the
     inscription in which Sargon I. is supposed to give an
     account of his life: “My father was unknown, my mother was a
     princess;” and it was, indeed, from his mother that he
     inherited his rights to the crown of Agade.

Sometimes discontent spread beyond the confines of the palace, the army
became divided into two hostile camps, the citizens took the side of one
or other of the aspirants, and civil war raged for several years till
some decisive action brought it to a close. Meantime tributary vassals
took advantage of the consequent disorder to shake off the yoke, the
Blamites and various neighbouring cities joined in the dispute and
ranged themselves on the side of the party from which there was most
to be gained: the victorious faction always had to pay dearly for this
somewhat dubious help, and came out impoverished from the struggle. Such
an internecine war often caused the downfall of a dynasty--at times,
indeed, that of the entire state.*

     * The above is perfectly true of the later Assyrian and
     Chalaean periods: it is scarcely needful to recall to the
     reader the murders of Sargon II. and Sennacherib, or the
     revolt of Assurdainpal against his father Shalmaneser III.
     With regard to the earliest period we have merely
     indications of what took place; the succession of King
     Urnina of Lagash appears to have been accompanied by
     troubles of this kind, and it is certain that his successor
     Akurgal was not the eldest of his sons, but we do not at
     present know to what events Akurgal owed his elevation.

The palaces of the Chaldaean kings, like those of the Egyptians,
presented the appearance of an actual citadel: the walls had to be
sufficiently thick to withstand an army for an indefinite period, and
to protect the garrison from every emergency, except that of treason or
famine. One of the statues found at Telloh holds in its lap the plan
of one of these residences: the external outline alone is given, but by
means of it we can easily picture to ourselves a fortified place, with
its towers, its forts, and its gateways placed between two bastions.
It represents the ancient palace of Lagash, subsequently enlarged and
altered by Oudea or one of the vicegerents who succeeded him, in which
many a great lord of the place must have resided down to the time of the
Christian era. The site on which it was built in the Girsu quarter of.
the city was not entirely unoccupied at the time of its foundation.
Urbau had raised a ziggurat on that very spot some centuries previously,
and the walls which he had constructed were falling into ruin.

[Illustration: 248.jpg THE PLAN OF A PALACE BUILT BY GUDEA.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec. The plan is
     traced upon the tablet held in the lap of Statue E in the
     Louvre. Below the plan can be seen the ruler marked with the
     divisions used by the architect for drawing his designs to
     the desired scale; the scribe’s stylus is represented lying
     on the left of the plan. [Prof. Petrie has shown that the
     unit of measurement represented on this ruler is the cubit
     of the Pyramid-builders of Egypt.--Te.]

Gudea did not destroy the work of his remote predecessor, he merely
incorporated it into the substructures of the new building, thus
showing an indifference similar to that evinced by the Pharaohs for the
monuments of a former dynasty. The palaces, like the temples, never
rose directly from the soil, but were invariably built on the top of an
artificial mound of crude brick. At Lagash, this solid platform rises to
the height of 40 feet above the plain, and the only means of access
to the top is by a single narrow steep staircase, easily cut off or
defended.

[Illustration: 249.jpg TERRA-COTTA BARREL-right]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the facsimile by Place.

The palace which surmounts this artificial eminence describes a sort of
irregular rectangle, 174 feet long by 69 feet wide, and had, contrary
to the custom in Egypt, the four angles orientated to the four cardinal
points. The two principal sides are not parallel, but swell out slightly
towards the middle, and the flexion of the lines almost follows the
contour of one of those little clay cones upon which the kings were wont
to inscribe their annals or dedications. This flexure was probably
not intentional on the part of the architect, but was owing to the
difficulty of keeping a wall of such considerable extent in a straight
line from one end to another; and all Eastern nations, whether Chaldaeans
or Egyptians, troubled themselves but little about correctness of
alignment, since defects of this kind were scarcely ever perceptible in
the actual edifice, and are only clearly revealed in the plan drawn out
to scale with modern precision.*

     * Mons. Heuzey thinks that the outward deflection of the
     lines is owing “merely to a primitive method of obtaining
     greater solidity of construction, and of giving a better
     foundation to these long facades, which are placed upon
     artificial terraces of crude brick always subject to cracks
     and settlements.” I think that the explanation of the facts
     which I have given in the text is simpler than that
     ingeniously proposed by Mons. Heuzey: the masons, having
     begun to build the wall at one end, were unable to carry it
     on in a straight line until it reached the spot denoted on
     the architect’s plan, and therefore altered the direction of
     the wall when they detected their error; or, having begun to
     build the wall from both ends simultaneously, were not
     successful in making the two lines meet correctly, and they
     have frankly patched up the junction by a mass of projecting
     brickwork which conceals their unskilfulness.

[Illustration: 250.jpg PLAN OF THE EXISTING BUILDINGS OF TELLOH.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec.

The facade of the building faces south-east, and is divided into three
blocks of unequal size. The centre of the middle block for a length
of 18 feet projects some 3 feet from the main front, and, by directly
facing the spectator, ingeniously masks the obtuse angle formed by the
meeting of the two walls. This projection is flanked right and left by
rectangular grooves, similar to those which ornament the facades of the
fortresses and brick houses of the Ancient Empire in Egypt: the regular
alternation of projections and hollows breaks the monotony of the facing
by the play of light and shade. Beyond these, again, the wall surface
is broken by semicircular pilasters some 17 inches in diameter, without
bases, capitals, or even a moulding, but placed side by side like so
many tree-trunks or posts forming a palisade.

[Illustration: 251.jpg DECORATION OF COLOURED CONES ON THE FACADE AT URUK]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the sketch by Loftus.

Various schemes of decoration succeed each other in progressive
sequence, less ornate and at greater distances apart, the further
they recede from the central block and the nearer they approach to the
extremities of the facade. They stop short at the southern angle, and
the two sides of the edifice running from south to west, and again from
west to north, are flat, bare surfaces, unbroken by projection or groove
to relieve the poverty and monotony of their appearance. The decoration
reappears on the north-east front, where the arrangement of the
principal facade is partly reproduced. The grooved divisions here start
from the angles, and the engaged columns are wanting, or rather they
are transferred to the central projection, and from a distance have the
effect of a row of gigantic organ-pipes. We may well ask if this squat
and heavy mass of building, which must have attracted the eye from all
parts of the town, had nothing to relieve the dull and dismal colour of
its component bricks.

[Illustration: 252.jpg PILASTERS OF THE FACADE OF GUDEA’S PALACE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec

The idea might not have occurred to us had we not found elsewhere an
attempt to lessen the gloomy appearance of the architecture by coloured
plastering. At Uruk, the walls of the palace are decorated by means of
terra-cotta cones, fixed deep into the solid plaster and painted red,
black, or yellow, forming interlaced or diaper patterns of chevrons,
spirals, lozenges, and triangles, with a very fair result: this mosaic
of coloured plaster covered all the surfaces, both flat and curved,
giving to the building a cheerful aspect entirely wanting in that of
Lagash.

A long narrow trough of yellowish limestone stood in front of the
palace, and was raised on two steps: it was carved in relief on the
outside with figures of women standing with outstretched hands, passing
to each other vases from which gushed forth two streams of water. This
trough formed a reservoir, which was filled every morning for the use of
the men and beasts, and those whom some business or a command brought to
the palace could refresh themselves there while waiting to be received
by the master. The gates which gave access to the interior were placed
at somewhat irregular intervals: two opened from the principal facade,
but on each of the other sides there was only one entrance. They were
arched and so low that admittance was not easily gained; they were
closed with two-leaved doors of cedar or cypress, provided with bronze
hinges, which turned upon two blackish stones firmly set in the masonry
on either side, and usually inscribed with the name of the founder or
that of the reigning sovereign. Two of the entrances possessed a sort
of covered way, in which the soldiers of the external watch could take
shelter from the heat of the sun by day, from the cold at night, and
from the dews at dawn. On crossing the threshold, a corridor, flanked
with two small rooms for porters or warders, led into a courtyard
surrounded with buildings of sufficient depth to take up nearly half
of the area enclosed within the walls. This court was moreover a
semi-public place, to which tradesmen, merchants, suppliants, and
functionaries of all ranks had easy access. A suite of three rooms shut
off in the north-east angle did duty for a magazine or arsenal. The
southern portion of the building was occupied by the State apartments,
the largest of which measures only 40 feet in length. In these rooms
Gudea and his successors gave audience to their nobles and administered
justice. The administrative officers and the staff who had charge of
them were probably located in the remaining part of the building. The
roof was flat, and ran all round the enclosing wall, forming a terrace,
access to it being gained by a staircase built between the principal
entrance and the arsenal. At the northern angle rose a ziggurat. Custom
demanded that the sovereign should possess a temple within his dwelling,
where he could fulfil his religious duties without going into the town
and mixing with the crowd. At Lagash the sacred tower was of older date
than the palace, and possibly formed part of the ancient building of
Urbau. It was originally composed of three stories, but the lower one
was altered by Gudea, and disappeared entirely in the thickness of the
basal platform. The second story thus became the bottom one; it was
enlarged, slightly raised above the neighbouring roofs, and was probably
crowned by a sanctuary dedicated to Ningirsu. It was, indeed, a monument
of modest proportions, and most of the public temples soared far above
it; but, small as it was, the whole town might be seen from the summit,
with its separate quarters and its belt of gardens; and beyond, the
open country intersected with streams, studded with isolated villages,
patches of wood, pools and weedy marshes left by the retiring
inundation, and in the far distance the lines of trees and bushes which
bordered the banks of the Euphrates and its confluents. Should a troop
of enemies venture within the range of sight, or should a suspicious
tumult arise within the city, the watchers posted on the highest terrace
would immediately give the alarm, and ‘through their warning the king
would have time to close his gates, and take measures to resist the
invading enemy or crush the revolt of his subjects.

[Illustration: 255.jpg STONE SOCKET OF ONE OF THE DOORS IN THE PALACE OF
GUDEA.( right)]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec.

The northern apartments of the palace were appropriated to Gudea and his
family. They were placed with their back to the entrance court, and
were divided into two groups; the sovereign, his male children and their
attendants, inhabited the western one, while the women and their slaves
were cloistered, so to speak, in the northern set. The royal dwelling
had an external exit by means of a passage issuing on the north-west of
the enclosure, and it also communicated with the great courtyard by a
vaulted corridor which ran along one side of the base of the ziggurat:
the doors which, closed these two entrances opened wide enough to admit
only one person at a time, and to the right and left were recesses in
the wall which enabled the guards to examine all comers unobserved, and
stab them promptly if there were anything suspicious in their behaviour.
Eight chambers were lighted from the courtyard. In one of them were kept
all the provisions for the day, while another served as a kitchen:
the head, cook carried on his work at a sort of rectangular dresser of
moderate size, on which several fireplaces were marked out by little
dividing walls of burnt bricks, to accommodate as many pots or pans
of various sizes. A well sunk in the corner right down below the
substructure provided the water needed for culinary purposes. The king
and his belongings accommodated themselves in the remaining five or six
rooms as best they could. A corridor, guarded as carefully as the one
previously described, led to his private apartments and to those of his
wives: these comprised a yard, some half-dozen cells varying in size,
a kitchen, a well, and a door through which the servants could come and
go, without passing through the men’s quarters. The whole description in
no way corresponds with the marvellous ideal of an Oriental palace which
we form for ourselves: the apartments are mean and dismal, imperfectly
lighted by the door or by some small aperture timidly cut in the
ceiling, arranged so as to protect the inmates from the heat and
dust, but without a thought given to luxury or display. The walls were
entirely void of any cedar woodwork inlaid with gold, or panels of
mosaic such as we find in the temples, nor were they hung with dyed or
embroidered draperies such as we moderns love to imagine, and which we
spread about in profusion, when we attempt to reproduce the interior of
an ancient house or palace.*

     * Mons. de Sarzec expressly states that he was unable to
     find anywhere in the palace of Gudea “the slightest trace of
     any coating on the walls, either of colour or glazed brick.
     The walls appear to have been left bare, without any
     decoration except the regular joining of the courses of
     brickwork.” The wood panelling was usually reserved for the
     temples or sacred edifices: Mons. de Sarzec found the
     remains of carbonized cedar panels in the ruins of a
     sanctuary dedicated to Ningirsu. According to Mons. Heuzey,
     the wall-hangings were probably covered with geometrical
     designs, similar to those formed by the terra-cotta cones on
     the walls of the palace at Uruk; the inscriptions, however,
     which are full of minute details with regard to the
     construction and ornamentation of the temples and palaces,
     have hitherto contained nothing which would lead us to infer
     that hangings were used for mural decoration in Chaldoa or
     Assyria.

The walls had to remain bare for the sake of coolness: at the most they
were only covered with a coat of white plaster, on which were painted,
in one or two colours, some scene of civil or religious life, or troops
of fantastic monsters struggling with one another, or men each with a
bird seated on his Wrist. The furniture was not less scanty than the
decoration; there were mats on the ground, coffers in which were kept
the linen and wearing apparel, low beds inlaid with ivory and metal and
provided with coverings and a thin mattress, copper or wooden stands to
support lamps or vases, square stools on four legs united by crossbars,
armchairs with lions’ claw feet, resembling the Egyptian armchairs
in outline, and making us ask if they were brought into Chaldaea by
caravans, or made from models which had come from some other country.
A few rare objects of artistic character might be found, which bore
witness to a certain taste for elegance and refinement; as, for
instance, a kind of circular trough of black stone, probably used to
support a vase. Three rows of imbricated scales surrounded the base of
this, while seven small sitting figures lean back against the upper
part with an air of satisfaction which is most cleverly rendered.
The decoration of the larger chambers used for public receptions and
official ceremonies, while never assuming the monumental character which
we observe in contemporary Egyptian buildings, afforded more scope for
richness and variety than was offered by the living-rooms.

[Illustration: 258.jpg STAND OF BLACK STONE FROM THE PALACE OF TELLOH.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec.

Small tablets of brownish limestone, let into the wall or affixed to
its surface by terra-cotta pegs, and decorated with inscriptions,
represented in a more or less artless fashion the figure of the
sovereign officiating before some divinity, while his children and
servants took part in the ceremony by their chanting. Inscribed
bricks celebrating the king’s exploits were placed here and there in
conspicuous places. These were not embedded like the others in two
layers of bitumen or lime, but were placed in full view upon bronze
statues of divinities or priests, fixed into the ground or into some
part of the masonry as magical nails destined to preserve the bricks
from destruction, and consequently to keep the memory of the dedicator
continually before posterity. Stelaa engraved on both sides recalled the
wars of past times, the battle-field, the scenes of horror which took
place there, and the return of the victor and his triumph. Sitting
or standing figures of diorite, silicious sandstone or hard limestone,
bearing inscriptions on their robes or shoulders, perpetuated the
features of the founder or of members of his family, and commemorated
the pious donations which had obtained for him the favour of the gods:
the palace of Lagash contained dozens of such statues, several of which
have come down to us almost intact--one of the ancient Urbau, and nine
of Gudea.

To judge by the space covered and the arrangement of the rooms, the
vicegerents of Lagash and the chiefs of towns of minor importance
must, as a rule, have been content with a comparatively small number of
servants; their court probably resembled that of the Egyptian barons who
lived much about the same period, such as Khnumhotpu of the nome of the
Gazelle, or Thothotpu of Hermopolis. In great cities such as Babylon
the palace occupied a much larger area, and the crowd of courtiers was
doubtless as great as that which thronged about the Pharaohs. No exact
enumeration of them has come down to us, but the titles which we come
across show with what minuteness they defined the offices about the
person of the sovereign. His costume alone required almost as many
persons as there were garments. The men wore the light loin-cloth or
short-sleeved tunic which scarcely covered the knees; after the fashion
of the Egyptians, they threw over the loin-cloth and the tunic a large
“abayah,” whose shape and material varied with the caprice of fashion.
They often chose for this purpose a sort of shawl of a plain material,
fringed or ornamented with a flat stripe round the edge; often they seem
to have preferred it ribbed, or artificially kilted from top to bottom.*

     * The relatively modern costume was described by Herodotus,
     i. 114; it was almost identical with the ancient one, as
     proved by the representations on the cylinders and monuments
     of Telloh. The short-sleeved tunic is more rarely
     represented, and the loin-cloth is usually hidden under the
     abayah in the case of nobles and kings. We see the princes
     of Lagash wearing the simple loin-cloth, on the monuments of
     Urnina, for example. For the Egyptian abayah, and the manner
     of representing it, cf. vol. i. pp. 69, 71.

The favourite material in ancient times, however, seems to have been
a hairy, shaggy cloth or woollen stuff, whose close fleecy thread hung
sometimes straight, sometimes crimped or waved, in regular rows like
flounces one above another. This could be arranged squarely around the
neck, like a mantel, but was more often draped crosswise over the left
shoulder and brought under the right arm-pit, so as to leave the upper
part of the breast and the arm bare on that side. It made a convenient
and useful garment--an excellent protection in summer from the sun, and
from the icy north wind in the winter. The feet were shod with sandals,
a tight-fitting cap covered the head, and round it was rolled a thick
strip of linen, forming a sort of rudimentary turban, which completed
the costume.*

     *Cf. the head belonging to one of the statues of Telloh,
     which is reproduced on p. 112 of this volume. We notice the
     same head-dress on several intaglios and monuments, and also
     on the terra-cotta plaque which will be found on p. 330 of
     this volume, and which represents a herdsman wrestling with
     a lion. Until we have further evidence, we cannot state, as
     G. Raw-linson did, that this strip forming a turban was of
     camel’s hair; the date of the introduction of the camel into
     Chaldoa still remains uncertain.

It is questionable whether, as in Egypt, wigs and false beards formed
part of the toilette. On some monuments we notice smooth faces and
close-cropped heads; on others the men appear with long hair, either
falling loose or twisted into a knot on the back of the neck.* While
the Egyptians delighted in garments of thin white linen, but slightly
plaited or crimped, the dwellers on the banks of the Euphrates preferred
thick and heavy stuffs patterned and striped with many colours. The
kings wore the same costume as their subjects, but composed of richer
and finer materials, dyed red or blue, decorated with floral, animal,
or geometrical designs;** a high tower-shaped tiara covered the
forehead,*** unless replaced by a diadem of Sin or some of the other
gods, which was a conical mitre supporting a double pair of horns, and
sometimes surmounted by a sort of diadem of feathers and mysterious
figures, embroidered or painted on the cap. Their arms were loaded with
massive bracelets and their fingers with rings; they wore necklaces and
earrings, and carried each a dagger in the belt.

     * Dignitaries went bareheaded and shaved the chin; see, for
     example, the two bas-reliefs given on pp. 105 and 244 of
     this volume; cf. the heads reproduced as tailpieces on pp.
     2, 124. The knot of hair behind on the central figure is
     easily distinguished in the vignette on p. 266 of this
     volume.

     ** The details of colour and ornamentation, not furnished by
     the Chaldaean monuments, are given in the wall-painting at
     Beni-Nasan representing the arrival of Asiatics in Egypt,
     which belongs to a period contemporary with or slightly
     anterior to the reign of Gudea. The resemblance of the
     stuffs in which they are clothed to those of the Chaldaean
     garments, and the identity of the patterns on them with the
     geometrical decoration of painted cones on the palace at
     Uruk, have been pointed out with justice by H. G. Tomkins

     *** The high tiara is represented among others on the head
     of Mardukna-dinakhe, King of Babylon: cf. what is said of
     the conical mitre, the headdress of Sin, on pp. 14, 169 of
     this volume.

[Illustration: 262.jpg FEMALE SERVANT BARE TO THE WAIST.(left)]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the bronze figure in the
     Louvre, published by Heuzey-Sarzec, _Decouvertes en
     Chaldee_, pl. 14.

The royal wardrobe, jewels, arms, and insignia formed so many distinct
departments, and each was further divided into minor sections for
body-linen, washing, or for this or that kind of headdress or sceptre.
The dress of the women, which was singularly like that of the men,
required no less a staff of attendants. The female servants, as well
as the male, went about bare to the waist, at all events while working
indoors. When they went out, they wore the same sort of tunic or
loin-cloth, but longer and more resembling a petticoat; they had the
same “abayah” drawn round the shoulders or rolled about the body like
a cloak, but with the women it nearly touched the ground; sometimes an
actual dress seems to have been substituted for the “abayah,” drawn in
to the figure by a belt and cut out of the same hairy material as that
of which the mantles were made. The boots were of soft leather, laced,
and without heels; the women’s ornaments were more numerous than those
of the men, and comprised necklaces, bracelets, ankle, finger, and ear
rings; their hair was separated into bands and kept in place on the
forehead by a fillet, falling in thick plaits or twisted into a coil on
the nape of the neck.

[Illustration: 262.jpg COSTUME OF A CHALDAEN LADY (right)]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the alabaster statuette in the
     Louvre, published in Heuzey. She holds in her hand the jar
     full of water, analogous to the streaming vase mentioned
     above.

A great deal of the work was performed by foreign or native slaves,
generally under the command of eunuchs, to whom the king and royal
princes entrusted most of the superintendence of their domestic
arrangements; they guarded and looked after the sleeping apartments,
they fanned and kept the flies from their master, and handed him his
food and drink. Eunuchs in Egypt were either unknown or but little
esteemed: they never seem to have been used, even in times when
relations with Asia were of daily occurrence, and when they might have
been supplied from the Babylonian slave-markets.

All these various officials closely attached to the person of the
sovereign--heads of the wardrobe, chamberlains, cupbearers, bearers of
the royal sword or of the flabella, commanders of the eunuchs or of
the guards--had, by the nature of their duties, daily opportunities of
gaining a direct influence over their master and his government,
and from among them he often chose the generals of his army or the
administrators of his domains. Here, again, as far as the few
monuments and the obscurity of the texts permit of our judging, we find
indications of a civil and military organization analogous to that
of Egypt: the divergencies which contemporaries may have been able to
detect in the two national systems are effaced by the distance of
time, and we are struck merely by the resemblances. As all business
transactions were carried on by barter or by the exchange of merchandise
for weighed quantities of the precious metals, the taxes were
consequently paid in kind: the principal media being corn and other
cereals, dates, fruits, stuffs, live animals and slaves, as well as
gold, silver, lead, and copper, either in its native state or melted
into bars fashioned into implements or ornamented vases. Hence we
continually come across fiscal storehouses, both in town and country,
which demanded the services of a whole troop of functionaries and
workmen: administrators of corn, cattle, precious metals, wine and oil;
in fine, as many administrators as there were cultures or industries in
the country presided over the gathering of the products into the
central depots and regulated their redistribution. A certain portion
was reserved for the salaries of the employes and the pay of the workmen
engaged in executing public works: the surplus accumulated in the
treasury and formed a reserve, which was not drawn upon except in cases
of extreme necessity. Every palace, in addition to its living-rooms,
contained within its walls large store-chambers filled with provisions
and weapons, which made it more or less a fortress, furnished with
indispensable requisites for sustaining a prolonged siege either against
an enemy’s troops or the king’s own subjects in revolt. The king always
kept about him bodies of soldiers who perhaps were foreign mercenaries,
like the Mazaiu of the armies of the Pharaohs, and who formed his
permanent body-guard in times of peace. When a war was imminent, a
military levy was made upon his domains, but we are unable to find out
whether the recruits thus raised were drawn indiscriminately from the
population in general, or merely from a special class, analogous to that
of the warriors which we find in Egypt, who were paid in the same way by
grants of land. The equipment of these soldiers was of the rudest kind:
they had no cuirass, but carried a rectangular shield, and, in the case
of those of higher rank at all events, a conical metal helmet, probably
of beaten copper, provided with a piece to protect the back of the neck;
the heavy infantry were armed with a pike tipped with bronze ox-copper,
an axe or sharp adze, a stone-headed mace, and a dagger; the light
troops were provided only with the bow and sling. As early as the third
millennium b.c., the king went to battle in a chariot drawn by onagers,
or perhaps horses; he had his own peculiar weapon, which was a curved
baton probably terminating in a metal point, and resembling the sceptre
of the Pharaohs. Considerable quantities of all these arms were stored
in the arsenals, which contained depots for bows, maces, and pikes, and
even the stones needed for the slings had their special department for
storage. At the beginning of each campaign, a distribution of weapons
to the newly levied troops took place; but as soon as the war was at an
end, the men brought back their accoutrements, which were stored till
they were again required. The valour of the soldiers and their chiefs
was then rewarded; the share of the spoil for some consisted of cattle,
gold, corn, a female slave, and vessels of value; for others, lands or
towns in the conquered country, regulated by the rank of the recipients
or the extent of the services they had rendered.

[Illustration: 266.jpg A SOLDIER BRINGING PRISONERS AND SPOIL.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the Chaldaean intaglio in the
     British. Museum.

Property thus given was hereditary, and privileges were often added to
it which raised the holder to the rank of a petty prince: for instance,
no royal official was permitted to impose a tax upon such lands, or take
the cattle off them, or levy provisions upon them; no troop of soldiers
might enter them, not even for the purpose of arresting a fugitive. Most
of the noble families possessed domains of this kind, and constituted in
each kingdom a powerful and wealthy feudal aristocracy, whose relations
to their sovereign were probably much the same as those which bound
the nomarchs to the Pharaoh. The position of these nobles was not more
stable than that of the dynasties under which they lived: while some
among them gained power by marriages or by continued acquisitions of
land, others fell into disgrace and were ruined. As the soil belonged to
the gods, it is possible that these nobles were supposed, in theory, ‘to
depend upon the gods; but as the kings were the vicegerents of the gods
upon earth, it was to the king, as a matter of fact, that they owed
their elevation. Every state, therefore, comprised two parts, each
subject to a distinct regime: one being the personal domain of the
suzerain, which he managed himself, and from which he drew the revenues;
the other was composed of fiefs, whose lords paid tribute and owed
certain obligations to the king, the nature of which we are as yet
unable to define.

The Chaldaean, like the Egyptian scribe, was the pivot on which the
machinery of this double royal and seignorial administration turned.
He does not appear to have enjoyed as much consideration as his
fellow-official in the Nile Valley: the Chaldaean princes, nobles,
priests, soldiers, and temple or royal officials, did not covet the
title of scribe, or pride themselves upon holding that office side
by side with their other dignities, as we see was the case with their
Egyptian contemporaries. The position of a scribe, nevertheless, was an
important one. We continually meet with it in all grades of society--in
the palace, in the temples, in the storehouses, in private dwellings; in
fine, the scribe was ubiquitous, at court, in the town, in the country,
in the army, managing affairs both small and great, and seeing that they
were carried on regularly. His education differed but little from that
given to the Egyptian scribe; he learned the routine of administrative
or judicial affairs, the formularies for correspondence either with
nobles or with ordinary people, the art of writing, of calculating
quickly, and of making out bills correctly. We may well ask whether he
ever employed papyrus or prepared skins for these purposes. It would,
indeed, seem strange that, after centuries of intercourse, no caravan
should have brought into Chaldaean any of those materials which were in
such constant use for literary purposes in Africa;* yet the same clay
which furnished the architect with such an abundant building material
appears to have been the only medium for transmitting the language which
the scribes possessed. They were always provided with slabs of a fine
plastic clay, carefully mixed and kept sufficiently moist to take easily
the impression of an object, but at the same time sufficiently firm to
prevent the marks once made from becoming either blurred or effaced.
When a scribe had a text to copy or a document to draw up, he chose out
one of his slabs, which he placed flat upon his left palm, and taking in
the right hand a triangular stylus of flint, copper, bronze, or bone,**
he at once set to work. The instrument, in early times, terminated in a
fine point, and the marks made by it when it was gently pressed upon
the clay were slender and of uniform thickness; in later times, the
extremity of the stylus was cut with a bevel, and the impression then
took the shape of a metal nail or a wedge.

     * On the Assyrian monuments we frequently see scribes taking
     a list of the spoil, or writing letters on tablets and some
     other soft material, either papyrus or prepared skin. Sayce
     has given good reasons for believing that the Chaldaeanns of
     the early dynasties knew of the papyrus, and either made it
     themselves, or had it brought from Egypt.

     ** See the triangular stylus of copper or bronze reproduced
     by the side of the measuring-rule, and the plan on the
     tablet of Gudea, p. 248 of this volume. The Assyrian Museum
     in the Louvre possesses several large, flat styli of bone,
     cut to a point at one end, which appear to have belonged to
     the Assyrian scribes. Taylor discovered in a tomb at Eridu a
     flint tool, which may have served for the same purpose as
     the metal or bone styli.

[Illustration: 268.jpg MANUSCRIPT ON PAPYRUS IN HEIROGLYPHICS]

They wrote from left to right along the upper part of the tablet, and
covered both sides of it with closely written lines, which sometimes ran
over on to the edges. When the writing was finished, the scribe sent his
work to the potter, who put it in the kiln and baked it, or the writer
may have had a small oven at his own disposition, as a clerk with us
would have his table or desk. The shape of these documents varied, and
sometimes strikes us as being peculiar: besides the tablets and the
bricks, we find small solid cones, or hollow cylinders of considerable
size, on which the kings related their exploits or recorded the history
of their wars or the dedication of their buildings. This method had a
few inconveniences, but many advantages. These clay books were heavy to
hold and clumsy to handle, while the characters did not stand out well
from the brown, yellow, and whitish background of the material; but, on
the other hand, a poem, baked and incorporated into the page itself,
ran less danger of destruction than if scribbled in ink on sheets of
papyrus. Fire could make no impression on it; it could withstand water
for a considerable length of time; even if broken, the pieces were still
of use: as long as it was not pulverized, the entire document could be
restored, with the exception, perhaps, of a few signs, or ‘some
scraps of a sentence. The inscriptions which have been saved from the
foundations of the most ancient temples, several of which date back
forty or fifty centuries, are for the most part as clear and legible
as when they left the hands of the writer who engraved them or of the
workmen who baked them. It is owing to the material to which they were
committed that we possess the principal works of Chaldaean literature
which have come down to us--poems, annals, hymns, magical incantations;
how few fragments of these would ever have reached us had their authors
confided them to parchment or paper, after the manner of the Egyptian
scribes! The greatest danger that they ran was that of being left
forgotten in the corner of the chamber in which they had been kept,
or buried under the rubbish of a building after a fire or some violent
catastrophe; even then the _debris_ were the means of preserving them,
by falling over them and covering them up. Protected under the ruins,
they would lie there for centuries, till the fortunate explorer should
bring them to light and deliver them over to the patient study of the
learned.

The cuneiform character in itself is neither picturesque nor decorative.
It does not offer that delightful assemblage of birds and snakes, of men
and quadrupeds, of heads and limbs, of tools, weapons, stars, trees,
and boats, which succeed each other in perplexing order on the Egyptian
monuments, to give permanence to the glory of Pharaoh and the greatness
of his gods. Cuneiform writing is essentially composed of thin short
lines, placed in juxtaposition or crossing each other in a somewhat
clumsy fashion; it has the appearance of numbers of nails scattered
about at haphazard, and its angular configuration, and its stiff and
spiny appearance, gives the inscriptions a dull and forbidding aspect
which no artifice of the engraver can overcome.

[Illustration: 271.jpg Page image]

[Illustration: 272.jpg Page Image]

Yet, in spite of their seemingly arbitrary character, this mass of
strokes had its source in actual hieroglyphs. As in the origin of the
Egyptian script the earliest writers had begun by drawing on stone or
clay the outline of the object of which they desired to convey the idea.
But, whereas in Egypt the artistic temperament of the race, and the
increasing skill of their sculptors, had by degrees brought the drawing
of each sign to such perfection that it became a miniature portrait of
the being or object to be reproduced, in Chaldaea, on the contrary,
the signs became degraded from their original forms on account of the
difficulty experienced in copying them with the stylus on the clay
tablets: they lost their original vertical position, and were placed
horizontally, retaining finally but the very faintest resemblance to the
original model. For instance, the Chaldaean conception of the sky was
that of a vault divided into eight segments by diameters running from
the four cardinal points and from their principal subdivisions [symbol]
the external circle was soon omitted, the transverse lines alone
remaining [symbol], which again was simplified into a kind of irregular
cross [symbol]. The figure of a man standing, indicated by the lines
resembling his contour, was placed on its side [symbol] and reduced
little by little till it came to be merely a series of ill-balanced
lines [symbol] [symbol]. We may still recognize in [symbol] the five
fingers and palm of a human hand [symbol]; but who would guess at the
first glance that [symbol] stands for the foot which the scribes strove
to place beside each character the special hieroglyph from which it had
been derived. Several fragments of these still exist, a study of which
seems to show that the Assyrian scribes of a more recent period were at
times as much puzzled as we are ourselves when they strove to get at the
principles of their own script: they had come to look on it as nothing
more than a system of arbitrary combinations, whose original form had
passed all the more readily into oblivion, because it had been borrowed
from a foreign race, who, as far as they were concerned, had ceased to
have a separate existence. The script had been invented by the Sumerians
in the very earliest times, and even they may have brought it in an
elemental condition from their distant fatherland. The first articulate
sounds which, being attached to the hieroglyphs, gave to each
an unalterable pronunciation, were words in the Sumerian tongue;
subsequently, when the natural progress of human thought led
thi Chaldaeans to replace, as in Egypt, the majority of the signs
representing ideas by those representing sounds, the syllabic values
which were developed side by side with the ideographic values were
purely Sumerian. The group [symbol] throughout all its forms,
designates in the first place the sky, then the god of the sky, and
finally the concept of divinity in general. In its first two senses it
is read ana, but in the last it becomes dingir, dimir; and though it
never lost its double force, it was soon separated from the ideas which
it evoked, to be used merely to denote the syllable an wherever it
occurred, even in cases where it had no connection with the sky or
heavenly things. The same process was applied to other signs with
similar results: after having merely denoted ideas, they came to stand
for the sounds corresponding to them, and then passed on to be mere
syllables--complex syllables in which several consonants may be
distinguished, or simple syllables composed of only one consonant and
one vowel, or vice versa. The Egyptians had carried this system still
further, and in many cases had kept only one part of the syllable,
namely, a mute consonant: they detached, for example, the final u from
pu and bu, and gave only the values b and p to the human leg J and the
mat Q. The peoples of the Euphrates stopped halfway, and admitted actual
letters for the vowel sounds a, i, and u only. Their system remained a
syllabary interspersed with ideograms, but excluded an alphabet.

[Illustration: 274.jpg Page image]

It was eminently wanting in simplicity, but, taken as a whole, it would
not have presented as many difficulties as the script of the Egyptians,
had it not been forced, at a very early period, to adapt itself to the
exigencies of a language for which it had not been made. When it came to
be appropriated by the Semites, the ideographs, which up till then had
been read in Sumerian, did not lose the sounds which they possessed in
that tongue, but borrowed others from the new language. For example,
“god” was called ilu, and “heaven” called shami: [symbol], when
encountered in inscriptions by the Semites, were read [symbol] when
the context showed the sense to be “god,” and shami when the character
evidently meant “heaven.” They added these two vocables to the preceding
ana, an, dingir, dimir; but they did not stop there: they confounded
the picture of the star [symbol] with that of the sky, and sometimes
attributed to [symbol], the pronunciation kakkabu, and the meaning of
star. The same process was applied to all the groups, and the Semitic
values being added to the Sumerian, the scribes soon found themselves in
possession of a double set of syllables both simple and compound. This
multiplicity of sounds, this polyphonous character attached to their
signs, became a cause of embarrassment even to them. For instance,
[symbol] when found in the body of a word, stood for the syllables hi
or hat, mid, mit, til, ziz; as an ideogram it was used for a score of
different concepts: that of lord or master, inu, bilu; that of blood,
damu; for a corpse, pagru, shalamtu; for the feeble or oppressed, kahtu,
nagpu; as the hollow and the spring, nakbu; for the state of old age,
labaru; of dying, matu; of killing, mitu; of opening, pitu; besides
other meanings. Several phonetic complements were added to it; it was
preceded by ideograms which determined the sense in which it was to be
read, but which, like the Egyptian determinatives, were not pronounced,
and in this manner they succeeded in limiting the number of mistakes
which it was possible to make. With a final [symbol] it would always
mean [symbol] bilu, the master, but with an initial [symbol] (thus
[symbol]) it denoted the gods Bel or Ea; with [symbol]. which indicates
a man [symbol], it would be the corpse, pagru and shalamtu; with
[symbol] prefixed, it meant [symbol]--mutanu, the plague or death and
so on. In spite of these restrictions and explanations, the obscurity of
the meaning was so great, that in many cases the scribes ran the risk of
being unable to make out certain words and understand certain passages;
many of the values occurred but rarely, and remained unknown to those
who did not take the trouble to make a careful study of the syllabary
and its history. It became necessary to draw up tables for their use,
in which all the signs were classified and arranged, with their meanings
and phonetic transcriptions. These signs occupied one column, and in
three or four corresponding columns would be found, first, the name
assigned to it; secondly, the spelling, in syllables, of the phonetic
values which the signs expressed, thirdly, the Sumerian and Assyrian
words which they served to render, and sometimes glosses which completed
the explanation.

[Illustration: 276.jpg Tables]

Even this is far from exhausting the matter. Several of these
dictionaries went back to a very early date, and tradition ascribes to
Sargon of Agade the merit of having them drawn up or of having collected
them in his palace. The number of them naturally increased in the course
of centuries; in the later times of the Assyrian empire they were so
numerous as to form nearly one-fourth of the works in the library at
Nineveh under Assurbanipal. Other tablets contained dictionaries of
archaic or obsolete terms, grammatical paradigms, extracts from laws
or ancient hymns analyzed sentence by sentence and often word by word,
interlinear glosses, collections of Sumerian formulas translated into
Semitic speech--a child’s guide, in fact, which the savants of those
times consulted with as much advantage as those of our own day have
done, and which must have saved them from many a blunder.

When once accustomed to the difficulties and intricacies of their
calling, the scribes were never at a standstill. The stylus was plied
in Chaldaea no less assiduously than was the calamus in Egypt, and the
indestructible clay, which the Chaldaeans were as a rule content to use,
proved a better medium in the long run than the more refined material
employed by their rivals: the baked or merely dried clay tablets have
withstood the assaults of time in surprising quantities, while the
majority of papyri have disappeared without leaving a trace behind.
If at Babylon we rarely meet with those representations, which we find
everywhere in the tombs of Saqqara or Gizeh, of the people themselves
and their families, their occupations, amusements, and daily
intercourse, we possess, on the other hand, that of which the ruins of
Memphis have furnished us but scanty instances up to the present time,
namely, judicial documents, regulating the mutual relations of the
people and conferring a legal sanction on the various events of their
life. Whether it were a question of buying lands or contracting a
marriage, of a loan on interest, or the sale of slaves, the scribe was
called in with his soft tablets to engross the necessary agreement. In
this he would insert as many details as possible--the day of the month,
the year of the reigning sovereign, and at times, to be still more
precise, an allusion to some important event which had just taken place,
and a memorial of which was inserted in official annals, such as the
taking of a town, the defeat of a neighbouring king, the dedication of
a temple, the building of a wall or fortress, the opening of a canal, or
the ravages of an inundation: the names of the witnesses and magistrates
before whom the act was confirmed were also added to those of the
contracting parties. The method of sanctioning it was curious. An
indentation was made with the finger-nail on one of the sides of the
tablet, and this mark, followed or preceded by the mention of a name,
“Nail of Zabudamik,” “Nail of Abzii,” took the place of our more or less
complicated sign-manuals. In later times, only the buyer and witnesses
approved by a nail-mark, while the seller appended his seal; an
inscription incised above the impress indicating the position of the
signatory. Every one of any importance possessed a seal, which he wore
attached to his wrist or hung round his neck by a cord; he scarcely
ever allowed it to be separated from his person during his lifetime, and
after death it was placed with him in the tomb in order to prevent any
improper use being made of it. It was usually a cylinder, sometimes
a truncated cone with a convex base, either of marble, red or green
jasper, agate, cornelian, onyx or rock crystal, but rarely of metal.
Engraved upon it in intaglio was an emblem or subject chosen by
the owner, such as the single figure of a god or goddess, an act of
adoration, a sacrifice, or an episode in the story of Gilgames, followed
sometimes by the inscription of a name and title. The cylinder was
rolled, or, in the case of the cone, merely pressed on the clay, in the
space reserved for it. In several localities the contracting parties had
recourse to a very ingenious procedure to prevent the agreements being
altered or added to by unscrupulous persons. When the document had been
impressed on the tablet, it was enveloped in a second coating of clay,
upon which an exact copy of the original was made, the latter thus
becoming inaccessible to forgers: if by chance, in course of time, any
disagreement should take place, and an alteration of the visible text
should be suspected, the outer envelope was broken in the presence of
witnesses, and a comparison was made to see if the exterior corresponded
exactly with the interior version. Families thus had their private
archives, to which additions were rapidly made by every generation;
every household thus accumulated not only the evidences of its own
history, but to some extent that of other families with whom they had
formed alliances, or had business or friendly relations.*

     * The tablets of Tell-Sifr come from one of these family
     collections. They all, in number about one hundred, rested
     on three enormous bricks, and they had been covered with a
     mat of which the half-decayed remains were still visible:
     three other crude bricks covered the heap. The documents
     contained in them relate for the most part to the families
     of Sininana and Amililani, and form part of their archives.

[Illustration: 279.jpg THE TABLET OF TELL-SIFR, BROKEN TO SHOW THE TWO
TEXTS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Loftus.


[Illustration: 280.jpg TABLET BEARING THE IMPRESS OF A SEAL]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Layard.

The constitution of the family was of a complex character. It would
appear that the people of each city were divided into clans, all of
whose members claimed to be descended from a common ancestor, who had
flourished at a more or less remote period. The members of each clan
were by no means all in the same social position, some having gone down
in the world, others having raised themselves; and amongst them we find
many different callings--from agricultural labourers to scribes, and
from merchants to artisans. No mutual tie existed among the majority
of these members except the remembrance of their common origin, perhaps
also a common religion, and eventual rights of succession or claims upon
what belonged to each one individually. The branches which had become
gradually separated from the parent stock, and which, taken all
together, formed the clan, possessed each, on the contrary, a very
strict organization. It is possible that, at the outset, the woman
occupied the more important position, but at an early date the man
became the head of the family,* and around him were ranged the wives,
children, servants, and slaves, all of whom had their various duties and
privileges.

     * The change in the condition of women would be due to the
     influence of Semitic ideas and customs in Chaldaea.

He offered the household worship to the gods of his race, in accordance
with special rites which had come down to him from his father; he made
at the tombs of his ancestors, at such times as were customary, the
offerings and prayers which assured their repose in the other world, and
his powers were as extensive in civil as in religious matters. He had
absolute authority over all the members of his household, and anything
undertaken by them without his consent was held invalid in the eyes of
the law; his sons could not marry unless he had duly authorized them
to do so. For this purpose he appeared before the magistrate with the
future couple, and the projected union could not be held as an actual
marriage, until he had affixed his seal or made his nail-mark on the
contract tablet. It amounted, in fact, to a formal deed of sale, and the
parents of the girl parted with her only in exchange for a proportionate
gift from the bridegroom. One girl would be valued at a silver shekel by
weight, while another was worth a mina, another much less;* the handing
over of the price was accompanied with a certain solemnity. When the
young man possessed no property as yet of his own, his family advanced
him the sum needed for the purchase. On her side, the maiden did not
enter upon her new life empty handed; her father, or, in the case of
his death, the head of the family at the time being, provided her with
a dowry suited to her social position, which was often augmented by
considerable presents from her grandmother, aunts, and cousins.**

     * Shamashnazir receives, as the price of his daughter, ten
     shekels of silver, which appears to have been an average
     price in the class of life to which he belonged.

     ** The nature of the dowry in ancient times is clear from
     the Sumero-Assyrian tablets in which the old legal texts are
     explained, and again from the contents of the contracts of
     Tell-Sifr, and the documents on stone, such as the Micliaux
     stone, in which we see women bringing their possessions into
     the community by marriage, and yet retaining the entire
     disposition of them.

The dowry would consist of a carefully marked out field of corn, a grove
of date-palms, a house in the town, a trousseau, furniture, slaves, or
ready money; the whole would be committed to clay, of which there
would be three copies at least, two being given by the scribe to the
contracting parties, while the third would be deposited in the hands of
the magistrate. When the bride and bridegroom both belonged to the same
class, or were possessed of equal fortunes, the relatives of the woman
could exact an oath from the man that he would abstain from taking
a second wife during her lifetime; a special article of the marriage
agreement permitted the woman to go free should the husband break his
faith, and bound him to pay an indemnity as a compensation for the
insult he had offered her. This engagement on the part of the man,
however, did not affect his relations with his female servants. In
Chaldaea, as in Egypt, and indeed in the whole of the ancient world,
they were always completely at the mercy of their purchaser, and the
permission to treat them as he would had become so much of a custom
that the begetting of children by their master was desired rather than
otherwise: the complaints of the despised slave, who had not been taken
into her master’s favour, formed one of the themes of popular poetry at
a very early period. When the contract tablet was finally sealed, one
of the witnesses, who was required to be a free man, joined the hands
of the young couple; nothing then remained to be done but to invite the
blessing of the gods, and to end the day by a feast, which would unite
both families and their guests. The evil spirits, however, always in
quest of an easy prey, were liable to find their way into the nuptial
chamber, favoured by the confusion inseparable from all household
rejoicing: prudence demanded that their attempts should be frustrated,
and that the newly married couple should be protected from their
attacks. The companions of the bridegroom took possession of him, and,
hand to hand and foot to foot, formed as it were a rampart round him
with their bodies, and carried him off solemnly to his expectant bride.
He then again repeated the words which he had said in the morning: “I
am the son of a prince, gold and silver shall fill thy bosom; thou, even
thou, shalt be my wife, I myself will be thy husband;” and he continued:
“As the fruits borne by an orchard, so great shall be the abundance
which I shall pour out upon this woman.” * The priest then called down
upon him benedictions from on high: “Therefore, O ye (gods), all that is
bad and that is not good in this man, drive it far from him and give him
strength. As for thee, O man, exhibit thy manhood, that this woman may
be thy wife; thou, O woman, give that which makes thy womanhood, that
this man may be thy husband.” On the following morning, a thanksgiving
sacrifice celebrated the completion of the marriage, and by purifying
the new household drove from it the host of evil spirits.**

     * This part of the ceremony is described on a Sumero-
     Assyrian tablet, of which two copies exist, discovered and
     translated by Pinches. The interpretation appears to me to
     result from the fact that mention is made, at the
     commencement of the column, of impious beings without gods,
     who might approach the man; in other places magical
     exorcisms indicate how much those spirits were dreaded “who
     deprived the bride of the embraces of the man.” As Pinches
     remarks, the formula is also found in the part of the poem
     of Gilgames, where Ishtar wishes to marry the hero, which
     shows that the rite and its accompanying words belong to a
     remote past.

     ** The text that describes these ceremonies was discovered
     and published by Pinches. As far as I can judge, it
     contained an exorcism against the “knotting of the tag,” and
     the mention of this subject called up that of the marriage
     rites. The ceremony commanded on the day following the
     marriage was probably a purification: as late as the time of
     Herodotus, the union of man and woman rendered both impure,
     and they had to perform an ablution before recommencing
     their occupations.

The woman, once bound, could only escape from the sovereign power of her
husband by death or divorce; but divorce for her was rather a trial to
which she submitted than a right of which she could freely make use. Her
husband could repudiate her at will without any complicated ceremonies.
It was enough for him to say: “Thou art not my wife!” and to restore
to her a sum of money equalling in value the dowry he had received with
her;* he then sent her back to her father, with a letter informing
him of the dissolution of the conjugal tie.** But if in a moment of
weariness or anger she hurled the fatal formula at him: “Thou are not
my husband!” her fate was sealed: she was thrown into the river and
drowned.***

     * The sum is fixed at half a mina by the text of the
     Sumerian laws; but it was sometimes less, e.g. ten shekels,
     and sometimes more, e.g. a whole mina.

     ** Repudiation of a wife, and the ceremonial connected with
     it, are summarized, as far as ancient times are concerned,
     by a passage in the Sumero-Assyrian tablet, published by
     Rawlinson, and translated by Oppert-Menant. Bertin, on the
     contrary, takes the same text to be a description of the
     principal marriage-rites, and from it he draws the
     conclusion that the possibility of divorce was not admitted
     in Chaldaea between persons of noble family. Meissner very
     rightly returns to Oppert’s interpretation, a few details in
     which he corrects.

     *** This fact was evident from the text of the so-called
     _Sumerian Laws concerning the Organization of the Family_,
     according to the generally received interpretation:
     according to that proposed by Oppert-Menant, it was the
     woman who had the right of causing the husband who had
     wronged her to be thrown into the river. The publication of
     the contracts of Iltani and of Bashtum appear to have shown
     conclusively the correctness of the ordinary translation:
     uncertainty with regard to one word prevents us from knowing
     whether the guilty wife were strangled before being thrown
     into the water, or if she were committed to the river alive.

The adulteress was also punished with death, but with death by the
sword: and when the use of iron became widespread, the blade was to be
of that metal. Another ancient custom only spared the criminal to devote
her to a life of infamy: the outraged husband stripped her of her fleecy
garments, giving her merely the loin-cloth in its place, which left her
half naked, and then turned-her out of the house into the street, where
she was at the mercy of the first passer-by. Women of noble or wealthy
families found in their fortune a certain protection from the abuse of
marital authority. The property which they brought with them by their
marriage contract, remained at their own disposal.* They had the entire
management of it, they farmed it out, they sold it, they spent the
income from it as they liked, without interference from any one: the man
enjoyed the comforts which it procured, but he could not touch it, and
his hold upon it was so slight that his creditors could not lay their
hands on it.

     * In the documents of the New Chaldaean Empire we find
     instances of married women selling their property
     themselves, and even of their being present, seated, at the
     conclusion of the sale, or of their ceding to a married
     daughter some property in their own possession, thus
     renouncing the power of disposing of it, and keeping merely
     the income from it; we have also instances of women
     reclaiming valuables of gold which their husbands had given
     away without their authorisation, and also obtaining an
     indemnity for the wrong they had suffered; also of their
     lending money to the mother-in-law of their brother; in
     fine, empowered to deal with their own property in every
     respect like an ordinary proprietor.

If by his own act he divorced his wife, he not only lost all benefit
from her property, but he was obliged to make her an allowance or to pay
her an indemnity;* at his death, the widow succeeded to these, without
prejudice to what she was entitled to by her marriage contract or the
will of the deceased. The woman with a dowry, therefore, became more or
less emancipated by virtue of her money. As her departure deprived the
household of as much as, and sometimes more than, she had brought into
it, every care was taken that she should have no cause to retire from
it, and that no pretext should be given to her parents for her recall
to her old home; her wealth thus obtained for her the consideration and
fair treatment which the law had, at the outset, denied to her.

     * The restitution of the dowry after divorce is ascertained,
     as far as later times are concerned, from documents similar
     to that published by Kohler-Peiser, in which we see the
     second husband of a divorced wife claiming the dowry from
     the first husband. The indemnity was fixed beforehand at six
     silver minae, in the marriage contract published by Oppert.

When, however, the wife was poor, she had to bear without complaint the
whole burden of her inferior position. Her parents had no other resource
than to ask the highest possible price for her, according to the rank
in which they lived, or in virtue of the personal qualities she was
supposed to possess, and this amount, paid into their hands when they
delivered her over to the husband, formed, if not an actual dowry for
her, at least a provision for her in case of repudiation or widowhood:
she was not, however, any less the slave of her husband--a privileged
slave, it is true, and one whom he could not sell like his other
slaves,* but of whom he could easily rid himself when her first youth
was passed, or when she ceased to please him.**

     * It appears, however, in certain cases not clearly
     specified, that the husband could sell his wife, if she were
     a shrew, as a slave.

     ** This form of marriage, which was of frequent occurrence
     in ancient times, fell into disuse among the upper classes,
     at least of Babylonian society. A few examples, however, are
     found in late times. It continued in use among the lower
     classes, and Herodotus affirms that in his time marriage
     markets were held regularly, as in our own time fairs are
     held for hiring male and female servants.

In many cases the fiction of purchase was set aside, and mutual consent
took the place of all other formalities, marriage then becoming merely
cohabitation, terminating at will. The consent of the father was not
required for this irregular union, and many a son contracted a marriage
after this fashion, unknown to his relatives, with some young girl
either in his own or in an inferior station: but the law refused to
allow her any title except that of concubine, and forced her to wear a
distinctive mark, perhaps that of servitude, namely, the representation
of an olive in some valuable stone or in terra-cotta, bearing her own
and her husband’s name, with the date of their union, which she kept
hung round her neck by a cord. Whether they were legitimate wives
or not, the women of the lower and middle classes enjoyed as much
independence as did the Egyptian women of a similar rank. As all the
household cares fell to their share, it was necessary that they should
be free to go about at all hours of the day: and they could be seen
in the streets and the markets, with bare feet, their head and face
uncovered, wearing their linen loin-cloth or their long draped garments
of hairy texture.* Their whole life was expended in a ceaseless toil for
their husbands and children: night and morning they went to fetch water
from the public well or the river, they bruised the corn, made the
bread, spun, wove, and clothed the entire household in spite of the
frequent demands of maternity.** The Chaldaean women of wealth or noble
birth, whose civil status gave them a higher position, did not enjoy so
much freedom. They were scarcely affected by the cares of daily life,
and if they did any work within their houses, it was more from a natural
instinct, a sense of duty, or to relieve the tedium of their existence,
than from constraint or necessity; but the exigencies of their rank
reduced them to the state of prisoners. All the luxuries and comforts
which money could procure were lavished on them, or they obtained them
for themselves, but all the while they were obliged to remain shut in
the harem within their own houses; when they went out, it was only to
visit their female friends or their relatives, to go to some temple
or festival, and on such occasions they were surrounded with servants,
eunuchs, and pages, whose serried ranks shut out the external world.

     * For the long garment of the women, see the statue
     represented on p. 263 of the present work; for the loin-
     cloth, which left the shoulders and bust exposed, see the
     bronze figure on p. 262. The latter was no doubt the garment
     worn at home by respectable women; we see by the punishment
     inflicted on adulteresses that it was an outdoor garment for
     courtesans, and also, doubtless, for slaves and women of the
     lower classes.

     ** Women’s occupations are mentioned in several texts and on
     several ancient monuments. On the seal, an impress of which
     is given on p. 233 of this volume, we see above, on the
     left, a woman kneeling and crushing the corn, and before her
     a row of little disks, representing, no doubt, the loaves
     prepared for baking. The length of time for suckling a child
     is fixed at three years by the Sumero-Assyrian tablet
     relating the history of the foundling; protracted suckling
     was customary also in Egypt.

There was no lack of children in these houses when the man had several
mistresses, either simultaneously or successively. Maternity was before
all things a woman’s first duty: should she delay in bearing children,
or should anything happen to them, she was considered as accursed or
possessed, and she was banished from the family lest her presence should
be a source of danger to it.* In spite of this many households remained
childless, either because a clause inserted in the contract prevented
the dismissal of the wife if barren, or because the children had died
when the father was stricken in years, and there was little hope of
further offspring. In such places adoption filled the gaps left by
nature, and furnished the family with desired heirs. For this purpose
some chance orphan might be brought into the household--one of those
poor little creatures consigned by their mothers to the river, as in
the case of Shargani, according to the ancient legend; or who had been
exposed at the cross-roads to excite the pity of passers-by,** like the
foundling whose story is given us in an old ballad. “He who had neither
father nor mother,--he who knew not his father or mother, but whose
earliest memory is of a well--whose entry into the world was in the
street,” his benefactor “snatched him from the jaws of dogs--and took
him from the beaks of ravens.--He seized the seal before witnesses--and
he marked him on the sole of the foot with the seal of the
witness,--then he entrusted him to a nurse,--and for three years he
provided the nurse with flour, oil, and clothing.” When the weaning was
accomplished, “he appointed him to be his child,--he brought him up
to be his child,--he inscribed him as his child,--and he gave him the
education of a scribe.” The rites of adoption in these cases did not
differ from those attendant upon birth. On both occasions the newly born
infant was shown to witnesses, and it was marked on the soles of its
feet to establish its identity; its registration in the family archives
did not take place until these precautions had been observed, and
children adopted in this manner were regarded thenceforward in the eyes
of the world as the legitimate heirs of the family.

     * Divorce for sterility was customary in very early times.
     Complete sterility or miscarriage was thought to be
     occasioned by evil spirits; a woman thus possessed with a
     devil came to be looked on as a dangerous being whom it was
     necessary to exorcise.


     ** Many of these children were those of courtesans or women
     who had been repudiated, as we learn from the Sumero-
     Assyrian tablet of Rawlinson: “She will expose her child
     alone in the street, where the serpents in the road may bite
     it, and its father and mother will know it no more.”

People desiring to adopt a child usually made inquiries among their
acquaintances, or poor friends, or cousins who might consent to give up
one of their sons, in the hope of securing a better future for him. When
he happened to be a minor, the real father and mother, or, in the case
of the death of one, the surviving parent, appeared before the scribe,
and relinquished all their rights in favour of the adopting parents; the
latter, in accepting this act of renunciation, promised henceforth to
treat the child as if he were of their own flesh and blood, and often
settled upon him, at the same time, a certain sum chargeable on their
own patrimony. When the adopted son was of age, his consent to the
agreement was required, in addition to that of his parents. The adoption
was sometimes prompted by an interested motive, and not merely by the
desire for posterity or its semblance. Labour was expensive, slaves were
scarce, and children, by working for their father, took the place of
hired servants, and were content, like them, with food and clothing. The
adoption of adults was, therefore, most frequent in ancient times. The
introduction of a person into a fresh household severed the ties which
bound him to the old one; he became a stranger to those who had borne
him; he had no filial obligations to discharge to them, nor had he
any right to whatever property they might possess, unless, indeed, any
unforeseen circumstance prevented the carrying out of the agreement, and
legally obliged him to return to the status of his birth. In return, he
undertook all the duties and enjoyed the privileges of his new position;
he owed to his adopted parents the same amount of work, obedience, and
respect that he would have given to his natural parents; he shared
in their condition, whether for good or ill, and he inherited their
possessions. Provision was made for him in case of his repudiation by
those who had adopted him, and they had to make him compensation: he
received the portion which would have accrued to him after their death,
and he then left them. Families appear to have been fairly united, in
spite of the elasticity of the laws which governed them, and of the
divers elements of which they were sometimes composed. No doubt polygamy
and frequently divorce exercised here as elsewhere a deleterious
influence; the harems of Babylon were constantly the scenes of endless
intrigues and quarrels among the women and children of varied condition
and different parentage who filled them. Among the people of the middle
classes, where restricted means necessarily prevented a man having
many wives, the course of family life appears to have been as calm
and affectionate as in Egypt, under the unquestioned supremacy of the
father: and in the event of his early death, the widow, and later the
son or son-in-law, took the direction of affairs. Should quarrels arise
and reach the point of bringing about a complete rupture between parents
and children, the law intervened, not to reconcile them, but to repress
any violence of which either side might be guilty towards the other.
It was reckoned as a misdemeanour for any father or mother to disown a
child, and they were punished by being kept shut up in their own house,
as long, doubtless, as they persisted in disowning it; but it was a
crime in a son, even if he were an adopted son, to renounce his parents,
and he was punished severely. If he had said to his father, “Thou art
not my father!” the latter marked him with a conspicuous sign and sold
him in the market. If he had said to his mother, “As for thee, thou art
not my mother!” he was similarly branded, and led through the streets or
along the roads, where with hue and cry he was driven from the town and
province.*

     * I have adopted the generally received meaning of this
     document as a whole, but I am obliged to state that Oppert-
     Menant admit quite a different interpretation. According to
     them, it would appear to be a sweeping renunciation of
     children by parents, and of parents by children, at the
     close of a judicial condemnation. Oppert has upheld this
     interpretation against Haupt, and still keeps to his
     opinion. The documents published by Meissner show that the
     text of the ancient Sumerian laws applied equally to adopted
     children, but made no distinction between the insult offered
     to the father and that offered to the mother: the same
     penalty was applicable in both cases.

The slaves were numerous, but distributed in unequal proportion among
the various classes of the population: whilst in the palace they might
be found literally in crowds, it was rare among the middle classes to
meet with any family possessing more than two or three at a time. They
were drawn partly from foreign races; prisoners who had been wounded and
carried from the field of battle, or fugitives who had fallen into the
hands of the victors after a defeat, or Elamites or Gutis who had been
surprised in their own villages during some expedition; not to mention
people of every category carried off by the Bedouin during their raids
in distant parts, such as Syria or Egypt, whom they were continually
bringing for sale to Babylon and Uru, and, indeed, to all those cities
to which they had easy access. The kings, the vicegerents, the temple
administration, and the feudal lords, provided employment for vast
numbers in the construction of their buildings or in the cultivation of
their domains; the work was hard and the mortality great, but gaps were
soon filled up by the influx of fresh gangs. The survivors intermarried,
and their children, brought up to speak the Chaldaean tongue and
conforming to the customs of the country, became assimilated to the
ruling race; they formed, beneath the superior native Semite and
Sumerian population,an inferior servile class, spread alike throughout
the towns and country, who were continually reinforced by individuals of
the native race, such as foundlings, women and children sold by husband
or father, debtors deprived by creditors of their liberty, and criminals
judicially condemned. The law took no individual account of them,
but counted them by heads, as so many cattle: they belonged to their
respective masters in the same fashion as did the beasts of his flock or
the trees of his garden, and their life or death was dependent upon
his will, though the exercise of his rights was naturally restrained
by interest and custom. He could use them as pledges or for payment of
debt, could exchange them or sell them in the market. The price of a
slave never rose very high: a woman might be bought for four and a half
shekels of silver by weight, and the value of a male adult fluctuated
between ten shekels and the third of a mina. The bill of sale was
inscribed on clay, and given to the purchaser at the time of payment:
the tablets which were the vouchers of the rights of the former
proprietor were then broken, and the transfer was completed. The
master seldom ill-treated his slaves, except in cases of reiterated
disobedience, rebellion, or flight; he could arrest his runaway slaves
wherever he could lay his hands on them; he could shackle their ankles,
fetter their wrists, and whip them mercilessly. As a rule, he permitted
them to marry and bring up a family; he apprenticed their children,
and as soon as they knew a trade, he set them up in business in his own
name, allowing them a share in the profits. The more intelligent among
them were trained to be clerks or stewards; they were taught to read,
write, and calculate, the essential accomplishments of a skilful scribe;
they were appointed as superintendents over their former comrades, or
overseers of the administration of property, and they ended by becoming
confidential servants in the household. The savings which they had
accumulated in their earlier years furnished them with the means of
procuring some few consolations: they could hire themselves out for
wages, and could even acquire slaves who would go out to work for them,
in the same way as they themselves had been a source of income to their
proprietors. If they followed a lucrative profession and were successful
in it, their savings sometimes permitted them to buy their own freedom,
and, if they were married, to pay the ransom of their wife and children.
At times, their master, desirous of rewarding long and faithful service,
liberated them of his own accord, without waiting till they had saved
up the necessary money or goods for their enfranchisement: in such cases
they remained his dependants, and continued in his service as freemen
to perform the services they had formerly rendered as slaves. They then
enjoyed the same rights and advantages as the old native race; they
could leave legacies, inherit property, claim legal rights, and acquire
and possess houses and lands. Their sons could make good matches among
the daughters of the middle classes, according to their education and
fortune; when they were intelligent, active, and industrious, there was
nothing to prevent them from rising to the highest offices about the
person of the sovereign.

[Illustration: 294.jpg AN EGYPTIAN SLAVE MERCHANT]

[Illustration: 294-text.jpg]

If we knew more of the internal history of the great Chaldaean cities, we
should no doubt come to see what an important part the servile element
played in them; and could we trace it back for a few generations, we
should probably discover that there were few great families who did
not reckon a slave or a freedman among their ancestors. It would be
interesting to follow this people, made up of such complex elements, in
all their daily work and recreation, as we are able to do in the case
of contemporary Egyptians; but the monuments which might furnish us with
the necessary materials are scarce, and the positive information to be
gleaned from them amounts to but little. We are tolerably safe, however,
in supposing the more wealthy cities to have been, as a whole, very
similar in appearance to those existing at the present day in the
regions which as yet have been scarcely touched by the advent of
European civilization. Sinuous, narrow, muddy streets, littered with
domestic refuse and organic detritus, in which flocks of ravens and
wandering packs of dogs perform with more or less efficiency the duties
of sanitary officers; whole quarters of the town composed of huts made
of reeds and puddled clay, low houses of crude brick, surmounted perhaps
even in those times with the conical domes we find later on the Assyrian
bas-reliefs; crowded and noisy bazaars, where each trade is located in
its special lanes and blind alleys; silent and desolate spaces occupied
by palaces and gardens, in which the private life of the wealthy
was concealed from public gaze; and looking down upon this medley of
individual dwellings, the palaces and temples with their ziggurats
crowned with gilded and painted sanctuaries. In the ruins of Uru,
Eridu, and Uruk, the remains of houses belonging doubtless to well-to-do
families have been brought to light. They are built of fine bricks,
whose courses are cemented together with a thin layer of bitumen, but
they they are only lighted internally by small appertures pierced at
irregular distances in the upper part of the walls: the low arched
doorway, closed by a heavy two-leaved door, leads into a blind passage,
which opens as a rule on the courtyard in the centre of the building.


[Illustration: 208a.jpg Chaldean houses at Uru.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the sketch by Taylor.

[Illustration: 208b plans of houses excavated at Eridu and Ubu.]

     These plans were drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from sketches by
     Taylor. The houses reproduced to the left of the plan were
     those uncovered in the ruins of Uru; those on the right
     belong to the ruins of Eridu. On the latter, the niches
     mentioned in the text will be found indicated.

In the interior may still be distinguished the small oblong rooms,
sometimes vaulted, sometimes roofed with a flat, ceiling supported by
trunks of palm trees;* the walls are often of a considerable thickness,
in which are found narrow niches here and there. The majority of the
rooms were merely store-chambers, and contained the family provisions
and treasures; others served as living-rooms, and were provided with
furniture. The latter, in the houses of the richer citizens no less
than in those of the people, was of a very simple kind, and was mostly
composed of chairs and stools, similar to those in the royal palaces;
the bedrooms contained the linen chests and the beds with their thin
mattresses, coverings, and cushions, and perhaps wooden head-rests,
resembling those found in Africa,** but the Chaldaeans slept mostly on
mats spread on the ground.

     * Taylor, _Notes on the Ruins of Mugeyer_, in the _Journ. of
     the Royal As. Soc_, vol. xv. p. 266, found the remains of
     the palm-tree beams which formed the terrace still existing.
     He thinks (_Notes on Tel-el-Lahm_, etc., in the _Journ, of
     the Royal As. Soc._, vol. xv. p. 411) with Loftus that some
     of the chambers were vaulted. Cf. upon the custom of
     vaulting in Chaldaean houses, Piereot-Cupiez, _Histoire de
     l’Art_, vol. ii. p. 163, et seq.

     ** The dressing of the hair in coils and elaborate
     erections, as seen in the various figures engraved upon
     Chaldaean intaglios (cf. what is said of the different ways
     of arranging the hair on p. 262 of this volume), appears to
     have necessitated the use of these articles of furniture;
     such complicated erections of hair must have lasted several
     days at least, and would not have kept in condition so long
     except for the use of the head-rest.

An oven for baking occupied a corner of the courtyard, side by side with
the stones for grinding the corn; the ashes on the hearth were always
aglow, and if by chance the fire went out, the fire-stick was always
at hand to relight it, as in Egypt. The kitchen utensils and household
pottery comprised a few large copper pans and earthenware pots rounded
at the base, dishes, water and wine jars, and heavy plates of coarse
ware; metal had not as yet superseded stone, and in the same house we
meet with bronze axes and hammers side by side with the same implements
in cut flint, besides knives, scrapers, and mace-heads.*

     * Implements in flint and other kinds of stone have been
     discovered by Taylor, and are now in the British Museum. The
     bronze implements come partly from the tombs of Mugheir, and
     partly from the ruins explored by Loftus at Tell-Sifr--that
     is to say, the ancient cities of Uru and Larsam: the name of
     Tell-Sifr, the “mound of copper,” comes from the quantity of
     objects in copper which have been discovered there.

[Illustration: 300.jpg CHALDAEAN HOUSEHOLD UTENSILS IN TERRA-COTTA]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the sketch by G. Rawlinson, and
     the heliogravure in Heuzey-Sarzec.


At the present day the women of the country of the Euphrates spend a
great part of their time on the roofs of their dwellings.* They install
themselves there in the morning, till they are driven away by the heat;
as soon as the sun gets low in the heavens, they return to their post,
and either pass the day on neighbouring roofs whilst they bake, cook,
wash and dry the linen; or, if they have slaves to attend to such menial
occupations, they sew and embroider in the open air.

     * Olivier, _Voyage dans l’Empire Othoman,_ vol. ii. pp. 356,
     357, 381, 382, 392, 393.

They come down into the interior of the house during the hottest hours
of the day. In most of the wealthy houses, the coolest room is one below
the level of the courtyard, into which but little light can penetrate.
It is paved with plaques of polished gypsum, which resembles our finest
grey-and-white marble, and the walls are covered with a coat of delicate
plastering, smooth to the touch and agreeable to the eye. This is
watered several times during the day in hot weather, and the evaporation
from it cools the air. The few ruined habitations which have as yet been
explored seem to bear witness to a considerable similarity between the
requirements and customs of ancient times and those of to-day. Like the
modern women of Bagdad and Mosul, the Chaldaean women of old preferred
an existence in the open air, in spite of its publicity, to a seclusion
within stuffy rooms or narrow courts. The heat of the sun, cold, rain,
and illness obliged them at times to seek a refuge within four walls,
but as soon as they could conveniently escape from them, they climbed up
on to their roof to pass the greater part of their time there.

Many families of the lower and middle classes owned the houses which
they occupied. They constituted a patrimony which the owners made every
effort to preserve intact through all reverses of fortune.* The head
of the family bequeathed it to his widow or his eldest son, or left it
undivided to his heirs, in the assurance, no doubt, that one of them
would buy up the rights of the others.

     * A house could be let for various lengths of time--for
     three months, for a year, for five years, for an indefinite
     term, but with a minimum of six months, since the rent is
     payable at the beginning and in the middle of each year.

The remainder of his goods, farms, gardens, corn-lands, slaves,
furniture, and jewels, were divided among the brothers or natural
descendants, “from the mouth to the gold;” that is to say, from the
moment of announcing the beginning of the business, to that when
each one received his share. In order to invest this act with greater
solemnity, it took place usually in the presence of a priest. Those
interested repaired to the temple, “to the gate of the god;” they placed
the whole of the inheritance in the hands of the chosen arbitrator,
and demanded of him to divide it justly; or the eldest brother perhaps
anticipated the apportionment, and the priest had merely to sanction
the result, or settle the differences which might arise among the lawful
recipients in the course of the operation. When this was accomplished,
the legatees had to declare themselves satisfied; and when no further
claims arose, they had to sign an engagement before the priestly
arbitrator that they would henceforth refrain from all quarrelling on
the subject, and that they would never make a complaint one against the
other. By dint of these continual redistributions from one generation
to another, the largest fortunes soon became dispersed: the individual
shares became smaller and smaller, and scarcely sufficed to keep a
family, so that the slightest reverse obliged the possessor to
have recourse to usurers. The Chaldaeans, like the Egyptians, were
unacquainted with the use of money, but from the earliest times the
employment of precious metals for purposes of exchange was practised
among them to an enormous extent. Though copper and gold were both used,
silver was the principal medium in these transactions, and formed the
standard value of all purchaseable objects. It was never cut into flat
rings or twists of wire, as was the case with the Egyptian “tabnu;” it
was melted into small unstamped ingots, which were passed from hand
to hand by weight, being tested in the scales at each transaction.
“To weigh” was in the ordinary language the equivalent for “payment in
metal,” whereas “to measure” denoted that the payment was in grain.
The ingots for exchange were, therefore, designated by the name of
the weights to which they corresponded. The lowest unit was a shekel,
weighing on an average nearly half an ounce, sixty shekels making a
mina, and sixty minas a talent. It is a question whether the Chaldaeanns
possessed in early times, as did the Assyrians of a later period, two
kinds of shekels and minas, one heavy and the other light. Whether the
loan were in metal, grain, or any other substance, the interest was very
high.* A very ancient law fixed it in certain cases at twelve drachmas
per mina, per annum--that is to say, at twenty per cent.--and more
recent texts show us that, when raised to twenty-five per cent., it did
not appear to them abnormal.

     * We find several different examples, during the Second
     Chaldaeann Empire, of an exchange of corn for provisions and
     liquids, or of beams for dates. As a fact, exchange has
     never completely died out in these regions, and at the
     present day, in Chaldaea, as in Egypt, corn is used in many
     cases either to pay Government taxes or to discharge
     commercial debts.

The commerce of the chief cities was almost entirely concentrated in the
temples. The large quantities of metals and cereals constantly brought
to the god, either as part of the fixed temple revenue, or as daily
offerings, accumulated so rapidly, that they would have overflowed the
storehouses, had not a means been devised of utilizing them quickly: the
priests treated them as articles of commerce and made a profit out of
them.* Every bargain necessitated the calling in of a public scribe. The
bill, drawn up before witnesses on a clay tablet, enumerated the sums
paid out, the names of the parties, the rate per cent., the date
of repayment, and sometimes a penal clause in the event of fraud or
insolvency; the tablet remained in the possession of the creditor until
the debt had been completely discharged. The borrower often gave as a
pledge either slaves, a field, or a house, or certain of his friends
would pledge on his behalf their own personal fortune; at times he would
pay by the labour of his own hands the interest which he would otherwise
have been unable to meet, and the stipulation was previously made in the
contract of the number of days of corvee which he should periodically
fulfil for his creditor. If, in spite of all this, the debtor was unable
to procure the necessary funds to meet his engagements, the principal
became augmented by a fixed sum--for instance, one-third--and continued
to increase at this rate until the total value of the amount reached
that of the security:** the slave, the field, or the house then ceased
to belong to their former, master, subject to a right of redemption, of
which he was rarely able to avail himself for lack of means.***

     * It was to the god himself--Shamash, for example--that the
     loan was supposed to be made, and it is to him that the
     contracts stipulate that the capital and interest shall be
     paid. It is curious to lind among the most successful money-
     lenders several princesses consecrated to the sun-god.

     ** It is easy to foresee, from the contracts of the New
     Assyrian or Babylonian Empire, how in this manner the
     original sum lent became doubled and trebled; generally the
     interest accumulated till it was quadrupled, after which, no
     doubt, the security was taken by the creditor. They probably
     calculated that the capital and compound interest was by
     then equal in value to the person or object given as a
     security.

     *** The creditors protected themselves against this right of
     redemption by a maledictory formula inserted at the end of
     the contracts against those who should avail themselves of
     it; it is generally inscribed on the boundary stones of the
     First Chaldaean Empire.

The small tradesman or free workman, who by some accident had become
involved in debt, seldom escaped this progressive impoverishment except
by strenuous efforts and incessant labour. Foreign commerce, it is true,
entailed considerable risk, but the chances of acquiring wealth were so
great that many individuals launched upon it in preference to more
sure but less lucrative undertakings. They would set off alone or in
companies for Elam or the northern regions, for Syria, or even for so
distant a country as Egypt, and they would bring back in their caravans
all that was accounted precious in those lands. Overland routes were not
free from dangers; not only were nomad tribes and professional bandits
constantly hovering round the traveller, and obliging him to exercise
ceaseless vigilance, but the inhabitants of the villages through which
he passed, the local lords and the kings of the countries which he
traversed, had no scruple in levying blackmail upon him in obliging him
to pay dearly for right of way through their marches or territory.**
There were less risks in choosing a sea route: the Euphrates on one
side, the Tigris, the Ulai, and the Uknu on the other, ran through a
country peopled with a rich industrial population, among whom Chaldaean
merchandise was easily and profitably sold or exchanged for commodities
which would command a good price at the end of the voyage. The vessels
generally were keleks or “kufas,” but the latter were of immense size.

     * We have no information from Babylonian sources relating to
     the state of the roads, and the dangers which merchants
     encountered in foreign lands; the Egyptian documents partly
     supply what is here lacking. The “instructions” contained in
     the _Sallier Papyrus,_ No. ii., show what were the miseries
     of the traveller, and the _Adventures of Sinuhit_ allude to
     the insecurity of the roads in Syria, by the very care with
     which the hero relates all the precautions which he took for
     his protection. These two documents are of the XIIth or
     XIIIth dynasty--that is to say, contemporaneous with the
     kings, of Uru and with Gudea.

Several individuals, as a rule, would club together to hire one of these
boats and freight it with a suitable cargo.* The body of the boat
was very light, being made of osier or willow covered with skins sewn
together; a layer of straw was spread on the bottom, on which were piled
the bales or chests, which were again protected by a rough thatch of
straw. The crew was composed of two oarsmen at least, and sometimes a
few donkeys: the merchants then pursued their way up stream till they
had disposed of their cargo, and taken in a sufficient freight for their
return voyage. The dangers, though apparently not so great as those by
the land route, were not the less real. The boat was liable to sink
or run aground near the bank, the dwellers in the neighbourhood of the
river might intercept it and pillage its contents, a war might break out
between two contiguous kingdoms and suspend all commerce: the merchants’
career continually vacillated between servitude, death, and fortune.

     * The payment demanded was something considerable: the only
     contract which I know of existing for such a transaction is
     of the time of Darius I., and exacts a silver shekel per day
     for the hire of boat and crew.

Business carried on at home in the towns was seldom the means of
enriching a man, and sometimes scarcely afforded him a means of
livelihood. Rent was high for those who had not a house of their own;
the least they could expect to pay was half a silver shekel per annum,
but the average price was a whole shekel. On taking possession they paid
a deposit which sometimes amounted to one-third of the whole sum, the
remainder being due at the end of the year. The leases lasted, as a
rule, merely a twelvemonth, though sometimes they were extended for
terms of greater length, such as two, three, or even eight years. The
cost of repairs and of keeping the house in good condition fell usually
upon the lessee, who was also allowed to build upon the land he had
leased, in which case it was declared free of all charges for a period
of about ten years, but the house, and, as a rule, all he had built,
then reverted to the landlord. Most possessors of shops made their own
goods for sale, assisted by slaves or free apprentices. Every workman
taught his own trade to his children, and these in their turn would
instruct theirs; families which had an hereditary profession, or from
generation to generation had gathered bands of workmen about them,
formed themselves into various guilds, or, to use the customary term,
into tribes, governed by chiefs and following specified customs. A
workman belonged to the tribe of the weavers, or of the blacksmiths, or
of the corn-merchants, and the description of an individual would not
have been considered as sufficiently exact, if the designation of his
tribe were not inserted after his name in addition to his paternal
affiliation. The organization was like that of Egypt, but more fully
developed. The various trades, moreover, were almost the same among the
two peoples, the exceptions being such as are readily accounted for by
the differences in the nature of the soil and physical constitution of
the respective countries. We do not meet on the banks of the Euphrates
with those corporations of stone-cutters and marble workers which were
so numerous in the valley of the Nile. The vast Chaldaean plain, in the
absence of mountains or accessible quarries, would have furnished no
occupation for them: the Chaldaeans had to go a long way in quest of
the small quantities of limestone, alabaster, or diorite which they
required, and which they reserved only for details of architectural
decoration for which a small number of artisans and sculptors were amply
sufficient. The manufacture of bricks, on the other hand, made great
progress; the crude bricks were larger than those of Egypt, and they
were more enduring, composed of finer clay and better executed; the
manufacture of burnt brick too was carried to a degree of perfection to
which Memphis or Thebes never attained. An ancient legend ascribes
the invention of the bricks, and consequently the construction of the
earliest cities, jointly to Sin, the eldest son of Bel, and Ninib his
brother: this event was said to have taken place in May-June, and from
that time forward the third month of the year, over which the twins
presided, was called, Murga in Sumerian, Simanu in the Semitic speech,
the month of brick. This was the season which was especially devoted to
the processes of their manufacture: the flood in the rivers, which was
very great in the preceding months, then began to subside, and the clay
which was deposited by the waters during the weeks of overflow, washed
and refined as it was, lent itself readily to the operation. The sun,
moreover, gave forth sufficient heat to dry the clay blocks in a uniform
and gradual manner: later, in July and August, they would crack under
the ardour of his rays, and become converted externally into a friable
mass, while their interior would remain too moist to allow them to be
prudently used in carefully built structures. The work of brick-making
was inaugurated with festivals and sacrifices to Sin, Merodach, Nebo,
and all the deities who were concerned in the art of building: further
religious ceremonies were observed at intervals during the month to
sanctify the progress of the work. The manufacture did not cease on the
last day of the month, but was continued with more or less activity,
according to the heat of the sun, and the importance of the orders
received, until the return of the inundation: but the bricks intended
for public buildings, temples, or palaces, could not be made outside a
prescribed limit of time. The shades of colour produced naturally in the
process of burning--red or yellow, grey or brown--were not pleasant to
the eye, and they were accustomed, therefore, to coat the bricks with an
attractive enamel which preserved them from the disintegrating effects
of sun and rain. The paste was laid on the edges or sides while
the brick was in a crude state, and was incorporated with it by
vitrification in the heat of the kiln. The process was known from an
early date in Egypt, but was rarely employed there in the decoration
of buildings, while in Chaldaea the use of such enamelled plaques was
common. The substructures of palaces and the exterior walls of temples
were left unadorned, but the shrines which crowned the “ziggurat,”
 the reception-halls, and the headings of doors were covered with these
many-coloured tiles. Fragments of them are found to-day in the ruins of
the cities, and the analysis of these pieces shows the marvellous skill
of the ancient workers in enamel; the shades of colour are pure and
pleasant to the eye, while the material is so evenly put on and so
solid, that neither centuries of burial in a sodden soil, nor the wear
and tear of transport, nor the exposure to the damp of our museums, have
succeeded in diminishing their brilliance and freshness.

To get a clear idea of the industrial operations of the country, it
would be necessary to see the various corporations at their work, as we
are able to do, in the case of Egypt in the scenes of the mastabas of
Saqqara, or of the rock-chambers of Beni-Hasan. The manufacture of stone
implements gave considerable employment, and the equipment of the dead
in the tombs of Uru would have been a matter of small moment, if we were
to exclude its flint implements, its knives, cleavers, scrapers, adzes,
axes, and hammers. The cutting of these objects is bold, and the final
touches show skill, but we rarely meet with that purity of contour and
intensity of polish which distinguish similar objects among Western
peoples. A few examples, it is true, are of fairly artistic shape, and
bear engraved inscriptions: one of these, a flint hammer of beautiful
form, belonged to a god, probably Eamman, and seems to have come from a
temple in which one of its owners had deposited it.

[Illustration: 311a.jpg CHALDAEAN STONE IMPLEMENTS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the sketches published by
     Taylor and by ‘G. Rawlinson. On the left a scraper and two
     knives one above the other, an axe in the middle, on the
     right an axe and a hammer. All these objects were found in
     Taylor’s excavations, and are now in the British Museum.

It is an exception, and a remarkable exception. Stone was the material
of the implements of the poor--implements which were coarse in shape,
and cost little: if much care were given to their execution, they would
come to be so costly that no one would buy them, or, if sold for a
moderate sum, the seller would obtain no profit from the transaction.
Beyond a certain price, it was more advantageous to purchase metal
implements, of copper in the early ages, afterwards of bronze, and
lastly of iron. Among the metal-founders and smiths all kinds of
examples of these were to be found--axes of an elegant and graceful
design, hammers and knives, as well as culinary and domestic utensils,
cups, cauldrons, dishes, mountings of doors and coffers, statuettes of
men, bulls, monsters, and gods--which could be turned to weapons of
all descriptions--arrow and lance heads, swords, daggers, and rounded
helmets with neck-piece or visor.

[Illustration: 311b.jpg CHALDAEAN STONE HAMMER BEARING AN INSCRIPTION.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the illustration published by
     Fr. Lenormant.

[Illustration: CHALDAEN IMPLEMENTS OF BRONZE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rawlinson’s _Five Great
     Monarchies_. On the right two axes, in the middle a hammer,
     on the left a knife, and below the head of a lance.

Some of the metal objects manufactured by the Chaldaeans attained large
dimensions; for instance, the “brazen seas” which were set up before
each sanctuary, either for the purpose of receiving the libations, or
for the prescribed rites of purification. As is often the case among
half-civilized peoples, the goldsmiths worked in the precious metals
with much facility and skill. We have not, succeeded up to the present
in finding any of those golden images which the kings were accustomed
to dedicate in the temples out of their own possessions, or the spoil
obtained from the enemy; but a silver vase dedicated to Ningirsu by
Entena, vicegerent of Lagash, gives us some idea of this department
of the temple furniture. It stands upright on a small square bronze
pedestal with four feet. A piously expressed inscription runs round
the neck, and the bowl of the vase is divided horizontally into two
divisions, framed above and below by twisted cord-work. Four two-headed
eagles, with outspread wings and tail, occupy the lower division; they
are in the act of seizing with their claws two animals, placed back
to back, represented in the act of walking: the intervals between the
eagles are filled up alternatively by two lions, two wild goats, and
two stags. Above, and close to the rise of the neck, are disposed seven
heifers lying down and all looking in the same direction: they are all
engraved upon the flat metal, and are without relief or incrustation.
The whole composition is harmoniously put together, the posture of the
animals and their general form are well conceived and boldly rendered,
but the details of the mane of the lions and the feathers of the eagles
are reproduced with a realism and attention to minutio which belong to
the infancy of art. This single example of ancient goldsmiths’work would
be sufficient to prove that the early Chaldaens were not a whit behind
the Egyptians in this handicraft, even if we had not the golden
ornaments, the bracelets, ear and finger rings to judge from, with which
the tombs have furnished us in considerable numbers.

[Illustration: VASE OF SILVER. AND BULL OF COPPER.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Heuzey-Sarzec

Alongside the goldsmiths there must have been a whole army of lapidaries
and gem-cutters occupied in the engraving of cylinders. Numerous and
delicate operations were required to metamorphose a scrap of crude
rock, marble, granite, agate, onyx, green and red jasper, crystal or
lapis-lazuli, into one of those marvellous seals which are now found by
the hundred scattered throughout the museums of Europe. They had to be
rounded, reduced to the proper proportions, and polished, before the
subject or legend could be engraved upon them with the burin. To drill a
hole through them required great dexterity, and some of the lapidaries,
from a dread of breaking the cylinder, either did not pierce it at all,
or merely bored a shallow hole into each extremity to allow it to
roll freely in its metallic mounting. The tools used in engraving were
similar to those employed at the present day, but of a rougher kind. The
burin, which was often nothing more than a flint point, marked out the
area of the design, and sketched out the figures; the saw was largely
employed to cut away the depressions when these required no detailed
handling; and lastly, the drill, either worked with the hand or in
a kind of lathe, was made to indicate the joints and muscles of the
individual by a series of round holes. The object thus summarily dealt
with might be regarded as sufficiently worked for ordinary clients; but
those who were willing to pay for them could obtain cylinders from which
every mark of the tool had been adroitly removed, and where the beauty
of the workmanship vied with the costliness of the material.

[Illustration: 315.jpg CHALDAEAN CYLINDER EXHIBITING TRACES OF THE
DIFFERENT TOOLS USED BY THE ENGRAVER]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a heliogravure in Menant’s
     _Catalogue de la collection de M. de Clercq_


The seal of Shargani, King of Agade, that of Bingani-shar-ali, and many
others which have been picked up by chance in the excavations, are
true bas-reliefs, reduced and condensed, so to speak, to the space of
something like a square inch of surface, but conceived with an artistic
ingenuity and executed with a boldness which modern engravers have
rarely equalled and never surpassed. There are traces on them, it is
true, of some of the defects which disfigured the latter work of the
Assyrians--heaviness of form, exaggerated prominence of muscles
and hardness of outline--but there are also all the qualities which
distinguish an original and forcible art.

The countries of the Euphrates were renowned in classic times for the
beauty of the embroidered and painted stuffs which they manufactured.*
Nothing has come down to us of these Babylonian tissues of which the
Greek and Latin writers extolled the magnificence, but we may form some
idea, from the statues and the figures engraved on cylinders, of what
the weavers and embroiderers of this ancient time were capable. The loom
which they made use of differed but slightly from the horizontal loom
commonly employed in the Nile Valley, and everything tends to show that
their plain linen cloths were of the kind represented in the swathings
and fragments of clothing still to be found in the sepulchral chambers
of Memphis and Thebes. The manufacture of fleecy woollen garments so
much affected by men and women alike indicates a great dexterity. When
once the threads of the woof had been stretched, those of the warp
were attached to them by knots in as many parallel lines--at regular
intervals--as there were rows of fringe to be displayed on the surface
of the cloth, the loops thus formed being allowed to hang down in their
respective places: sometimes these loops were retained just as they
stood, sometimes they were cut and the ends frayed out so as to give the
appearance of a shaggy texture.

     * Most modern writers understand by tapestry what the
     ancients were accustomed to call needle embroidery or
     painting on stuffs: I can find no indication on the most
     ancient monuments of Chaldaean or Egypt of the manufacturing
     of real tapestry.

[Illustration: 316.jpg Egyptian Manuscript]

     Part of an Egyptian Manuscript found in the Swathing of a
     Mummy

[Illustration: 316-text.jpg Egyptian Manuscript]


Most of these stuffs preserved their original white or creamy
colour--especially those woven at home by the women for the requirements
of their own toilet, and for the ordinary uses of the household. The
Chaldaeans, however, like many other Asiatic peoples, had a strong
preference for lively colours, and the outdoor garments and gala attire
of the rich were distinguished by a profusion of blue patterns on a red
ground, or red upon blue, arranged in stripes, zigzags, checks, and
dots or circles. There must, therefore, have been as much occupation
for dyers as there was for weavers; and it is possible that the two
operations were carried out by the same hands. We know nothing of the
bakers, butchers, carriers, masons, and other artisans who supplied the
necessities of the cities: they were doubtless able to make two ends
meet and nothing more, and if we should succeed some day in obtaining
information about them, we shall probably find that their condition was
as miserable as that of their Egyptian contemporaries. The course
of their lives was monotonous enough, except when it was broken at
prescribed intervals by the ordinary festivals in honour of the gods
of the city, or by the casual suspensions of work occasioned by the
triumphant return of the king from some warlike expedition, or by his
inauguration of a new temple.

The gaiety of the people on such occasions was the more exuberant in
proportion to the undisturbed monotony or misery of the days which
preceded them. As soon, for instance, as Gudea had brought to completion
Ininnu, the house of his patron Ningirsu, “he felt relieved from the
strain and washed his hands. For seven days, no grain was bruised in the
quern, the maid was the equal of her mistress, the servant walked in the
same rank as his master, the strong and the weak rested side by side in
the city.” The world seemed topsy-turvy as during the Roman Saturnalia;
the classes mingled together, and the inferiors were probably accustomed
to abuse the unusual licence which they momentarily enjoyed: when the
festival was over, social distinctions reasserted themselves, and each
one fell back into his accustomed position. Life was not so pleasant
in Chaldaea as in Egypt. The innumerable promissory notes, the receipted
accounts, the contracts of sale and purchase--these cunningly drawn up
deeds which have been deciphered by the hundred--reveal to us a people
greedy of gain, exacting, litigious, of artisans in Egypt. This is taken
from a source belonging to the XIIth or possibly the XIIIth dynasty. We
may assume, from the fact that the two civilizations were about on
the same level, that the information supplied in this respect by the
Egyptian monuments is generally applicable to the condition of Chaldaean
workmen of the same period.

(Unreadable) and almost exclusively absorbed by material concerns.
The climate, too, variable and oppressive in summer and winter alike,
imposed upon the Chaldaean painful exactions, and obliged him to work
with an energy of which the majority of Egyptians would not have felt
themselves capable. The Chaldaean, suffering greater and more prolonged
hardships, earned more doubtless, but was not on this account the
happier. However lucrative his calling might be, it was not sufficiently
so to supply him always with domestic necessities, and both tradespeople
and operatives were obliged to run into debt to supplement their
straitened means. When they had once fallen into the hands of the
usurer, the exorbitant interest which they had to pay kept them a long
time in his power. If when the bill fell due there was nothing to meet
it, it had to be renewed under still more disastrous conditions; as the
pledge given was usually the homestead, or the slave who assisted in the
trade, or the garden which supplied food for the family, the mortgagor
was reduced to the extreme of misery if he could not satisfy his
creditors, This plague of usury was not, moreover, confined to the
towns; it raged with equal violence in the country, and the farmers also
became its victims.

If, theoretically, the earth belonged to the gods, and under them to
the kings, the latter had made, and continued daily to make, such large
concessions of it to their vassals, that the greater part of their
domains were always in the hands of the nobles or private individuals.
These could dispose of their landed property at pleasure, farm it out,
sell it or distribute it among their heirs and friends.

They paid on account of it a tax which varied at different epochs, but
which was always burthensome; but when they had once satisfied this
exaction, and paid the dues which the temples might claim on behalf
of the gods, neither the State nor any individual had the right to
interfere in their administration of it, or put any restrictions upon
them. Some proprietors cultivated their lands themselves--the poor by
their own labour, the rich by the aid of some trustworthy slave whom
they interested in the success of his farming by assigning him a certain
percentage on the net return. Sometimes the lands were leased out in
whole or in part to free peasants who relieved the proprietors of all
the worry and risks of managing it themselves. A survey of the area of
each state had been made at an early age, and the lots into which it had
been divided were registered on clay tablets containing the name of
the proprietor as well as those of his neighbours, together with such
indications of the features of the land, dykes, canals, rivers,
and buildings as would serve to define its boundaries: rough plans
accompanied the description, and in the most complicated instances
interpreted it to the eye. This survey was frequently repeated, and
enabled the sovereign to arrange his scheme of taxation on a solid
basis, and to calculate the product of it without material error.
Gardens and groves of date-palms, together with large regions devoted
to rough attempts at vegetable culture, were often to be met with,
especially in the neighbourhood of towns; these paid their contributions
to the State, as well as the owners’rent, in kind--in fruit, vegetables,
and fresh or dried dates. The best soil was reserved, for the growth of
wheat and other cereals, and its extent was measured in terms of corn;
corn was also the standard in which the revenue was reckoned both in
public and private contracts. Such and such a field required about fifty
litres of seed to the arura. Another needed sixty-two or seventy-five
according to the fertility of the land and its locality. Landed property
was placed under the guardianship of the gods, and its transfer or
cession was accompanied by formalities of a half-religious, half-magical
character: the party giving delivery of it called down upon the head
of any one who would dare in the future to dispute the validity of the
deed, imprecations of which the text was inserted on a portion of the
surface of an egg-shaped nodule of flint, basalt, or other hard stone.
These little monuments display on their cone-shaped end a series
of figures, sometimes arranged in two parallel divisions, sometimes
scattered over the surface, which represent the deities invoked to watch
over the sanctity of the contract. It was a kind of representation in
miniature of the aspect which the heavens presented to the Chaldaeans.
The disks of the sun and moon, together with Venus-Ashtar, are the
prominent elements in the scene: the zodiacal figures, or the symbols
employed to represent them, are arranged in an apparent orbit around
these--such as the Scorpion, the Bird, the Dog, the Thunderbolt of
Ramman, the mace, the horned monsters, half hidden by the temples they
guard, and the enormous Dragon who embraces in his folds half the entire
firmament. “If ever, in the course of days, any one of the brothers,
children, family, men or women, slaves or servants of the house, or any
governor or functionary whatsoever, arises and intends to steal this
field, and remove this landmark, either to make a gift of it to a god,
or to assign it to a competitor, or to appropriate it to himself; if he
modifies the area of it, the limits and the landmark; if he divides it
into portions, and if he says: ‘The field has no owner, since there has
been no donation of it; ‘--if, from dread of the terrible imprecations
which protect this stele and this field, he sends a fool, a deaf or
blind person, a wicked wretch, an idiot, a stranger, or an ignorant one,
and should cause this stele to be taken away,* and should throw it
into the water, cover it with dust, mutilate it by scratching it with a
stone, burn it in the fire and destroy it, or write anything else upon
it, or carry,it away to a place where it will be no longer seen,--this
man, may Anu, Bel, Ea, the exalted lady, the great gods, cast upon him
looks of wrath, may they destroy his strength, may they exterminate his
race.” All the immortals are associated in this excommunication, and
each one promises in his turn the aid of his power.

     * All the people enumerated in this passage might, in
     ignorance of what they were doing, be induced to tear up the
     stone, and unconsciously commit a sacrilege from which every
     Chaldaean in his senses would have shrunk back. The formula
     provides for such cases, and it secures that the curse shall
     fall not only on the irresponsible instruments, but reach
     the instigator of the crime, even when he had taken no
     actual part in the deed.

[Illustration: 322.jpg THE MICHAUX STONE (left)]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The original is in the medal cabinet
     of the Bibliotheque Nationale.

[Illustration: 323.jpg THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MICHAUX STONE (right)]

Merodach, by whose spells the sick are re stored, will inflict upon the
guilty one a dropsy which no incantation can cure. Shamas, the supreme
judge, will send forth against him one of his inexorable judgments. Sin,
the inhabitant of the brilliant heavens, will cover him with leprosy as
with a garment. Adar, the warrior, will break his weapons; and Zamama,
the king of strifes, will not stand by him on the field of battle.
Eamman will let loose his tempest upon his fields, and will overwhelm
them. The whole band of the invisibles hold themselves ready to defend
the rights of the proprietor against all attacks. In no part of the
ancient world was the sacred character of property so forcibly laid
down, or the possession of the soil more firmly secured by religion.

In instruments of agriculture and modes of cultivation Chaldaea was no
better off than Egypt. The rapidity with which the river rose in the
spring, and its variable subsidence from year to year, furnished little
inducement to the Chaldaeans to entrust to it the work of watering their
lands; on the contrary, they were compelled to protect themselves from
it, and to keep at a distance the volume of waters it brought down.
Each property, whether of square, triangular, or any other shape, was
surrounded with a continuous earth-built barrier which bounded it
on every side, and served at the same time as a rampart against the
inundation.

[Illustration: 324.jpg TWO ROWS OF SHADUFS ON THE BANK OF A RIVER.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Assyrian bas-relief from
     Koyunjik.

Rows of shadufs installed along the banks of the canals or streams
provided for the irrigation of the lands.* The fields were laid out like
a chess-board, and the squares, separated from each other by earthen
ridges, formed as it were so many basins: when the elevation of the
ground arrested the flow of the waters, these were collected into
reservoirs, whence by the use of other shadufs they were raised to a
higher level.

     * In Mesopotamia and Chaldaea there may still be seen
     “everywhere ruins of ancient canals; and there are also to
     be met with, in many places, ridges of earth, which stretch
     for considerable distances in a straight line, and surround
     lands perfectly level.” (Olivier).

The plough was nothing more than an obliquely placed mattock, whose
handle was lengthened in order to harness oxen to it. Whilst the
ploughman pressed heavily on the handle, two attendants kept incessantly
goading the beasts, or urging them forward with voice and whip, and
a third scattered the seed in the furrow. A considerable capital was
needed to ensure success in agricultural undertakings: contracts were
made for three years, and stipulated that payments should be made partly
in metal and partly in the products of the soil.

[Illustration: 325.jpg CHALDAEAN FARMING OPERATIONS.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio reproduced
     in Layard. The original is in the cabinet of medals in the
     Bibliotheque Nationale.

The farmer paid a small sum when entering into possession, and the
remainder of the debt was gradually liquidated at the end of each
twelve months, the payment being in silver one year, and in corn the two
following. The rent varied according to the quality of the soil and the
facilities which it afforded for cultivation: a field, for instance, of
three bushels was made to pay nine hundred measures, while another of
ten bushels had only eighteen hundred to pay. In many instances the
peasant preferred to take the proprietor into partnership, the latter
in such case providing all the expenses of cultivation, on the
understanding that he should receive two-thirds of the gross product.
The tenant was obliged to administer the estate as a careful householder
during the term of his lease: he was to maintain the buildings and
implements in good repair, to see that the hedges were kept up, to keep
the shadufs in working order, and to secure the good condition of the
watercourses. He had rarely enough slaves to manage the business with
profit: those he had purchased were sufficient, with the aid of his
wives and children, to carry on ordinary operations, but when any
pressure arose, especially at harvest-time, he had to seek elsewhere the
additional labourers he required. The temples were the chief sources for
the supply of these. The majority of the supplementary labourers were
free men, who were hired out by their family, or engaged themselves for
a fixed term, during which they were subject to a sort of slavery, the
conditions of which were determined by law. The workman renounced his
liberty for fifteen days, or a month, or for a whole year; he disposed,
so to speak, of a portion of his life to the provisional master of his
choice, and if he did not enter upon his work at the day agreed upon,
or if he showed himself inactive in the duties assigned to him, he was
liable to severe punishment. He received in exchange for his labour
his food, lodging, and clothing; and if an accident should occur to
him during the term of his service, the law granted him an indemnity in
proportion to the injury he had sustained.

[Illustration: 327.jpg THE FARM OXEN]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a green marble cylinder in the
     Louvre.

His average wage was from four to six shekels of silver per annum. He
was also entitled by custom to another shekel in the form of a retaining
fee, and he could claim his pay, which was given to him mostly in corn,
in monthly instalments, if his agreement were for a considerable time,
and daily if it were for a short period.

The mercenary never fell into the condition of the ordinary serf: he
retained his rights as a man, and possessed in the person of the patron
for whom he laboured, or whom he himself had selected, a defender of his
interests. When he came to the end of his engagement, he returned to
his family, and resumed his ordinary occupation until the next occasion.
Many of the farmers in a small way earned thus, in a few weeks,
sufficient means to supplement their own modest personal income. Others
sought out more permanent occupations, and hired themselves out as
regular farm-servants.

The lands which neither the rise of the river nor the irrigation system
could reach so as to render fit for agriculture, were reserved for the
pasture of the flocks in the springtime, when they were covered with
rich grass. The presence of lions in the neighbourhood, however, obliged
the husbandmen to take precautions for the safety of their flocks. They
constructed provisional enclosures into which the animals were driven
every evening, when the pastures were too far off to allow of the flocks
being brought back to the sheepfold. The chase was a favourite pastime
among them, and few days passed without the hunter’s bringing back with
him a young gazelle caught in a trap, or a hare killed by an arrow.
These formed substantial additions to the larder, for the Chaldaeans
do not seem to have kept about them, as the Egyptians did, such tamed
animals as cranes or herons, gazelles or deer: they contented themselves
with the useful species, oxen, asses, sheep, and goats. Some of the
ancient monuments, cylinders, and clay tablets reproduce in a rough
manner scenes from pastoral life. The door of the fold opens, and we see
a flock of goats sallying forth to the cracking of the herdsman’s whip:
when they reach the pasture they scatter over the meadows, and while the
shepherd keeps his eye upon them, he plays upon his reed to the delight
of his dog. In the mean time the farm-people are engaged in the careful
preparation of the evening meal: two individuals on opposite sides of
the hearth watch the pot boiling between them, while a baker makes his
dough into round cakes.

[Illustration: 329a.jpg COOKING: A QUARREL.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the terra-cotta plaques
     discovered by Loftus.

Sometimes a quarrel breaks out among the comrades, and leads to a
stand-up fight with the fists; or a lion, perhaps, in quest of a meal,
surprises and kills one of the bulls: the shepherd runs up, his axe in
his hand, to contend bravely with the marauder for the possession of his
beast. The shepherd was accustomed to provide himself with assistance
in the shape of enormous dogs, who had no more hesitation in attacking
beasts of prey than they had in pursuing game. In these combats the
natural courage of the shepherd was stimulated by interest: for he was
personally responsible for the safety of his flock, and if a lion should
find an entrance into one of the enclosures.

[Illustration: 329b.jpg SCENES OF PASTORAL LIFE IN CHALDAEA.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Chaldaean intaglio from
     Layard. Another cylinder of the same kind is reproduced at
     p. 233 of the present work; it represents Etana arising to
     heaven by the aid of his friend the eagle, while the
     pastoral scene below resembles in nearly all particulars
     that given above.

[Illustration: 330.jpg FIGHT WITH A LION]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the terra-cotta tablets
     discovered by Loftus.

Fishing was not so much a pastime as a source of livelihood; for fish
occupied a high place in the bill of fare of the common folk. Caught by
the line, net, or trap, it was dried,in the sun, smoked, or salted. The
chase was essentially the pastime of the great noble--the pursuit of
the lion and the bear in the wooded covers or the marshy thickets of the
river-bank; the pursuit of the gazelle, the ostrich, and bustard on
the elevated plains or rocky tablelands of the desert. The onager of
Mesopotamia is a very beautiful animal, with its grey glossy coat, and
its lively and rapid action.

[Illustration: 331.jpg THE DOG IN TUB LEASH]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a terra-cotta tablet discovered
     by Sir H. Rawlinson in the ruins of Babylon, and now in the
     British Museum

If it is disturbed, it gives forth a cry, kicks up its heels, and dashes
off: when at a safe distance, it stops, turns round, and faces its
pursuer: as soon as he approaches, it starts off again, stops, and takes
to its heels again, continuing this procedure as long as it is followed.
The Chaldaeans found it difficult to catch by the aid of dogs, but they
could bring it down by arrows, or perhaps catch it alive by stratagem.
A running noose was thrown round its neck, and two men held the ends of
the ropes. The animal struggled, made a rush, and attempted to bite, but
its efforts tended only to tighten the noose still more firmly, and
it at length gave in, half strangled; after alternating struggles and
suffocating paroxysms, it became somewhat calmer, and allowed itself to
be led. It was finally tamed, if not to the extent of becoming useful
in agriculture, at least for the purposes of war: before the horse was
known in Chaldaea, it was used to draw the chariot. The original habitat
of the horse was the great table-lands of Central Asia: it is doubtful
whether it was brought suddenly into the region of the Tigrus and
Euphrates by some barbaric invasion, or whether it was passed on from
tribe to tribe, and thus gradually reached that country. It soon became
acclimatized, and its cross-breeding with the ass led for centuries to
the production of magnificent mules. The horse was known to the kings
of Lagash, who used it in harness. The sovereigns of neighbouring cities
were also acquainted with it, but it seems to have been employed solely
by the upper classes of society, and never to have been generally used
in the war-chariot or as a charger in cavalry operations.

[Illustration: 332.jpg CHALDAEAN CARRYING A FISH. (left)]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the terra-cotta tablets
     discovered by Loftus.

The Chaldaeans carried agriculture to a high degree of perfection, and
succeeded in obtaining from the soil everything it could be made to
yield.

[Illustration: 333.jpg THE ONAGER TAKEN WITH THE LASSO.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the Assyrian bas-relief of
     Nimrud. See p. 35 of the present work for an illustration of
     onagers pierced by arrows in the chase.

Their methods, transmitted in the first place to the Greeks, and
afterwards to the Arabs, were perpetuated long after their civilization
had disappeared, and were even practised by the people of Iraq under the
Abbasside Caliphs. Agricultural treatises on clay, which contained an
account of these matters, were deposited in one or other of the sacred
libraries in which the priests of each city were long accustomed to
collect together documents from every source on which they could lay
their hands. There were to be found in each of these collections a
certain number of works which were unique, either because the authors
were natives of the city, or because all copies of them had been
destroyed in the course of centuries--the Epic of Grilgames, for
instance, at Uruk; a history of the Creation, and of the battles of
the gods with the monsters at Kutha: all of them had their special
collections of hymns or psalms, religious and magical formulas, their
lists of words and grammatical phraseology, their glossaries and
syllabaries, which enabled them to understand and translate texts drawn
up in Sumerian, or to decipher those whose writing presented more than
ordinary difficulty. In these libraries there was, we find, as in
the inscriptions of Egypt, a complete literature, of which only some
shattered fragments have come down to us. The little we are able to
examine has produced upon our modern investigators a complex impression,
in which astonishment rather than admiration contends with a sense
of tedious-ness. There may be recognized here and there, among the
wearisome successions of phrases, with their rugged proper names,
episodes which seem something like a Chaldaean “Genesis” or “Veda;” now
and then a bold flight of fancy, a sudden exaltation of thought, or a
felicitous expression, arrests the attention and holds it captive for
a time. In the narrative of the adventures of Grilgames, for instance,
there is a certain nobility of character, and the sequence of events, in
their natural and marvellous development, are handled with gravity and
freedom: if we sometimes encounter episodes which provoke a smile or
excite our repugnance, we must take into account the rudeness of the age
with which they deal, and remember that the men and gods of the later
Homeric epic are not a whit behind the heroes of Babylonian story in
coarseness. The recognition of divine omnipotence, and the keenly felt
afflictions of the soul, awakened in the Chaldaean psalmist feelings of
adoration and penitence which still find, in spite of the differences of
religion, an echo in our own hearts; and the unknown scribe, who related
the story of the descent of Ishtar to the infernal regions, was able to
express with a certain gloomy energy the miseries of the “Land without
return. “These instances are to be regarded, however, as exceptional:
the bulk of Chaldaean literature seems nothing more than a heap of
pretentious trash, in which even the best-equipped reader can see no
meaning, or, if he can, it is of such a character as to seem unworthy
of record. His judgment is natural in the circumstances, for the ancient
East is not, like Greece and Italy, the dead of yesterday whose soul
still hovers around us, and whose legacies constitute more than the half
of our patrimony: on the contrary, it was buried soul and body, gods
and cities, men and circumstances, ages ago, and even its heirs, in the
lapse of years, have become extinct. In proportion as we are able to
bring its civilization to light, we become more and more conscious that
we have little or nothing in common with it. Its laws and customs, its
methods of action and its modes of thought, are so far apart from those
of the present day, that they seem to us to belong to a humanity utterly
different from our own. The names of its deities do not appeal to our
imagination like those of the Olympian cycle, and no traditional respect
serves to do away with the sense of uncouthness which we experience
from the jingle of syllables which enter into them. Its artists did not
regard the world from the same point of view as we do, and its writers,
drawing their inspiration from an entirely different source, made use of
obsolete methods to express their feelings and co-ordinate their ideas.
It thus happens that while we understand to a shade the classical
language of the Greeks and Romans, and can read their works almost
without effort, the great primitive literatures of the world, the
Egyptian and Chaldaean, have nothing to offer us for the most part but a
sequence of problems to solve or of enigmas to unriddle with patience.
How many phrases, how many words at which we stumble, require a
painstaking analysis before we can make ourselves master of their
meaning! And even when we have determined to our satisfaction their
literal signification, what a number of excursions we must make in the
domain of religious, ethical, and political history before we can compel
them to render up to us their full import, or make them as intelligible
to others as they are to ourselves! When so many commentaries are
required to interpret the thought of an individual or a people, some
difficulty must be experienced in estimating the value of the expression
which they have given to it. Elements of beauty were certainly, and
perhaps are still, within it; but in proportion as we clear away
the rubbish which encumbers it, the mass of glossaries necessary to
interpret it fall in and bury it so as to stifle it afresh.

While the obstacles to our appreciation of Chaldaeann literature are of
such a serious character, we are much more at home in our efforts to
estimate the extent and depth of their scientific knowledge. They
were as well versed as the Egyptians, but not more, in arithmetic
and geometry in as far as these had an application to the affairs of
everyday life: the difference between the two peoples consisted chiefly
in their respective numerical systems--the Egyptians employing almost
exclusively the decimal system of notation, while the Chaldaeans combined
its use with the duodecimal.

[Illustration: 337.jpg Page image]

To express the units, they made use of so many vertical “nails”
 placed one after, or above, each other, thus [symbols] etc.; tens were
represented by bent brackets [symbols], up to 60; beyond this figure
they had the choice of two methods of notation: they could express the
further tens by the continuous additions of brackets thus, [symbols]
or they could represent 50 by a vertical “nail,” and add for every
additional ten a bracket to the right of it, thus: [symbols]. The
notation of a hundred was represented by the vertical “nail” with
a horizontal stroke to the right thus [symbols], and the number of
hundreds by the symbols placed before this sign, thus [symbols], etc.:
a thousand was written [symbols] i.e. ten times one hundred, and the
series of thousands by the combination of different notations which
served to express units, tens, and hundreds. They subdivided the unit,
moreover, into sixty equal parts, and each of these parts into sixty
further equal subdivisions, and this system of fractions was used in all
kinds of quantitive measurements. The fathom, the foot and its square,
talents and bushels, the complete system of Chaldaean weights and
measures, were based on the intimate alliance and parallel use of
the decimal and duodecimal systems of notation. The sixtieth was more
frequently employed than the hundredth when large quantities were in
question: it was called a “soss,” and ten sosses were equal to a “ner,”
 while sixty ners were equivalent to a “sar;” the series, sosses,
ners, and sars, being employed in all estimations of values. Years and
measures of length were reckoned in sosses, while talents and bushels
were measured in sosses and sars. The fact that these subdivisions were
all divisible by 10 or 12, rendered calculations by means of them easy
to the merchant and workmen as well as to the mathematical expert. The
glimpses that we have been able to obtain up to the present of Chaldaean
scientific methods indicate that they were on a low level, but they
were sufficiently advanced to furnish practical rules for application in
everyday affairs: helps to memory of different kinds, lists of figures
with their names phonetically rendered in Sumerian and Semitic speech,
tables of squares and cubes, and rudimentary formulas and figures for
land-surveying, furnished sufficient instructions to enable any one
to make complicated calculations in a ready manner, and to work out in
figures, with tolerable accuracy, the superficial area of irregularly
shaped plots of land. The Chaldaeans could draw out, with a fair amount
of exactness, plans of properties or of towns, and their ambition
impelled them even to attempt to make maps of the world. The latter
were, it is true, but rough sketches, in which mythological beliefs
vitiated the information which merchants and soldiers had collected in
their journeys. The earth was represented as a disk surrounded by the
ocean stream: Chaldaea took up the greater part of it, and foreign
countries did not appear in it at all, or held a position out in the
cold at its extremities. Actual knowledge was woven in an extraordinary
manner with mystic considerations, in which the virtues of numbers,
their connections with the gods, and the application of geometrical
diagrams to the prediction of the future, played an important part.
We know what a brilliant fortune these speculations attained in
after-years, and the firm hold they obtained for centuries over Western
nations, as formerly over the Bast. It was not in arithmetic and
geometry alone, moreover, that the Chaldaeans were led away by such
deceits: each branch of science in its turn was vitiated by them,
and, indeed, it could hardly be otherwise when we come to consider the
Chaldaean outlook upon the universe. Its operations, in their eyes, were
not carried on under impersonal and unswerving laws, but by voluntary
and rational agents, swayed by an inexorable fate against which they
dared not rebel, but still free enough and powerful enough to avert by
magic the decrees of destiny, or at least to retard their execution.
From this conception of things each subordinate science was obliged to
make its investigations in two perfectly distinct regions: it had at
first to determine the material facts within its competence--such as the
position of the stars, for instance, or the symptoms of a malady; it
had then to discover the beings which revealed themselves through these
material manifestations, their names and their characteristics. When
once it had obtained this information, and could lay its hands upon
them, it could compel them to work on its behalf: science was thus
nothing else than the application of magic to a particular class of
phenomena.

The number of astronomical facts with which the Chaldaeans had made
themselves acquainted was considerable.

[Illustration: 340.jpg CHALDAEAN MAP OF THE WORLD.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Peiser.

It was a question in ancient times whether they or the Egyptians had
been the first to carry their investigations into the infinite depths
of celestial space: when it came to be a question as to which of the two
peoples had made the greater progress in this branch of knowledge, all
hesitation vanished, and the pre-eminence was accorded by the ancients
to the priests of Babylon rather than to those of Heliopolis and
Memphis.*

* Clement of Alexandria, Lucien, Diogenes Laertius, Macrobius, attribute
the origin of astronomy to the Egyptians, and Diodorus Sioulus asserts
that they were the teachers of the Babylonians; Josephus maintains, on
the contrary, that the Egyptians were the pupils of the Chaldaeans.

[Illustration: 340.jpg ASTRONOMICAL TABLE]

The Chaldaeans had conducted astronomical observations from remote
antiquity.* Callisthenes collected and sent to his uncle Aristotle a
number of these observations, of which the oldest had been made nineteen
hundred and three years before his time--that is, about the middle of
the twenty-third century before our era: he could have transcribed
many of a still earlier date if the archives of Babylon had been fully
accessible to him.

     * Epigenes asserts that their observations extended back to
     720,000 years before the time of Alexander, while Berossus
     and Critodemus limit their antiquity to 490,000 years, which
     was further reduced to 473,000 years by Diodorus, to 470,000
     by Cicero, and to 270,000 by Hipparchus.

The Chaldaean priests had been accustomed from an early date to record on
their clay tablets the aspect of the heavens and the changes which took
place in them night after night, the appearance of the constellations,
their comparative brilliancy, the precise moments of their rising and
setting and culmination, together with the more or less rapid movements
of the planets, and their motions towards or from one another. To their
unaided eyes, sharpened by practice and favoured by the transparency
of the air, many stars were visible, as to the Egyptians, which we can
perceive only by the aid of the telescope. These thousands of brilliant
bodies, scattered apparently at random over the face of the sky, moved,
however, with perfect regularity, and the period between their departure
from and their return to the same point in the heavens was determined
at an early date: their position could be predicted at any hour, their
course in the firmament being traced so accurately that its various
stages were marked out and indicated beforehand. The moon, they
discovered, had to complete two hundred and twenty-three revolutions of
twenty-nine days and a half each, before it returned to the point from
which it had set out. This period of its career being accomplished, it
began a second of equal length, then a third, and so on, in an infinite
series, during which it traversed the same celestial houses and repeated
in them the same acts of its life: all the eclipses which it had
undergone in one period would again afflict it in another, and would
be manifest in the same places of the earth in the same order of time.*
Whether they ascribed these eclipses to some mechanical cause, or
regarded them as so many unfortunate attacks made upon Sin by the seven,
they recognized their periodical character, and they were acquainted
with the system of the two hundred and twenty-three lunations by which
their occurrence and duration could be predicted. Further observations
encouraged the astronomers to endeavour to do for the sun what they had
so successfully accomplished in regard to the moon.

     * This period of two hundred and twenty-three lunations is
     that described by Ptolemy in the fourth book of his
     “Astronomy,” in which he deals with the average motion of
     the moon. The Chaldaeans seem not to have been able to make a
     skilful use of it, for their books indicate the occurrence
     of lunar eclipses outside the predicted periods.

No long experience was needed to discover the fact that the majority of
solar eclipses were followed some fourteen days and a half after by an
eclipse of the moon; but they were unable to take sufficient advantage
of this experience to predict with certainty the instant of a future
eclipse of the sun, although they had been so struck with the connection
of the two phenomena as to believe that they were in a position to
announce it approximately.* They were frequently deceived in their
predictions, and more than one eclipse which they had promised did not
take place at the time expected:** but their successful prognostications
were sufficiently frequent to console them for their failures, and to
maintain the respect of the people and the rulers for their knowledge.
Their years were vague years of three hundred and sixty days. The twelve
equal months of which they were composed bore names which were borrowed,
on the one hand, from events in civil life, such as “Simanu,” from the
making of brick, and “Addaru,” from the sowing of seed, and, on the
other, from mythological occurrences whose origin is still obscure, such
as “Nisanu,” from the altar of Ea, and “Elul,” from a message of Ishtar.
The adjustment of this year to astronomical demands was roughly carried
out by the addition of a month every six years, which was called a
second Adar, Blul, or Nisan, according to the place in which it was
intercalated.

     * Tannery is of opinion that the Chaldaeans must have
     predicted eclipses of the sun by means of the period of two
     hundred and twenty-three lunations, and shows by what a
     simple means they could have arrived at it.

     ** An astronomer mentions, in the time of Assurbanipal, that
     on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of the month he prepared for the
     observation of an eclipse; but the sun continued brilliant,
     and the eclipse did not take place.

The neglect of the hours and minutes in their calculation of the length
of the year became with them, as with the Egyptians, a source of serious
embarrassment, and we are still ignorant as to the means employed
to meet the difficulty. The months had relations to the signs of the
zodiac, and the days composing them were made up of twelve double hours
each. The Chaldaens had invented two instruments, both of them of a
simple character, to measure time--the clepsydra and the solar clock,
the latter of which in later times became the source of the Greek
“polos.” The sun-dial served to determine a number of simple facts
which were indispensable in astronomical calculations, such as the
four cardinal points, the meridian of the place, the solstitial and
equinoctial epochs, and the elevation of the pole at the position of
observation. The construction of the sundial and clepsydra, if not of
the polos also, is doubtless to be referred back to a very ancient date,
but none of the texts already brought to light makes mention of the
employment of these instruments.*

     * Herodotus (ii. 109) formally attributes the invention of
     the sun-dial and polos to the Babylonians. The “polos” was a
     solar clock. It consisted of a concave hemisphere with a
     style rising from its centre: the shadow of the style
     described every day an arc of a circle parallel to the
     equator, and the daily parallels were divided into twelve or
     twenty-four equal parts. Smith discovered, in the palace of
     Sennacherib at Koyunjik, a portion of an astrolabe, which is
     now in the British Museum.

All these discoveries, which constitute in our eyes the scientific
patrimony of the Chaldaeans, were regarded by themselves as the least
important results of their investigations. Did they not know, thanks to
these investigations, that the stars shone for other purposes than to
lighten up the nights--to rule, in fact, the destinies of men and kings,
and, in ruling that of kings, to determine the fortune of empires? Their
earliest astronomers, by their assiduous contemplation of the nightly
heavens, had come to the conclusion that the vicissitudes of the
heavenly bodies were in fixed relations with mundane phenomena and
events. If Mercury, for instance, displayed an unusual brilliancy at
his rising, and his disk appeared as a two-edged sword, riches and
abundance, due to the position of the luminous halo which surrounded
him, would be scattered over Chaldaea, while discords would cease
therein, and justice would triumph over iniquity. The first observer who
was struck by this coincidence noted it down; his successors confirmed
his observations, and at length deduced, in the process of the years,
from their accumulated knowledge, a general law. Henceforward, each time
that Mercury assumed the same aspect it was of favourable augury, and
kings and their subjects became the recipients of his bounty. As long as
he maintained this appearance no foreign ruler could install himself in
Chaldaea, tyranny would be divided against itself, equity would prevail,
and a strong monarch bear sway; while the landholders and the king
would be confirmed in their privileges, and obedience, together with
tranquillity, would rule everywhere in the land. The number of these
observations increased to such a degree that it was found necessary to
classify them methodically to avoid confusion. Tables of them were drawn
up, in which the reader could see at one and the same moment the aspect
of the heavens on such and such a night and hour, and the corresponding
events either then happening, or about to happen, in Chaldaean, Syria,
or some foreign land. If, for instance, the moon displayed the same
appearance on the 1st and 27th of the month, Elam was threatened; but
“if the sun, at his setting, appears double his usual size, with
three groups of bluish rays, the King of Chaldaea is ruined.” To the
indications of the heavenly bodies, the Chaldaeans added the portents
which could be deduced from atmospheric phenomena: if it thundered on
the 27th of Tammuz, the wheat-harvest would be excellent and the produce
of the ears magnificent; but if this, should occur six days later, that
is, on the 2nd of Abu, floods and rains were to be apprehended in a
short time, together with the death of the king and the division of
his empire. It was not for nothing that the sun and moon surrounded
themselves in the evening with blood-red vapours or veiled themselves
in dark clouds; that they grew suddenly pale or red after having been
intensely bright; that unexpected fires blazed out on the confines of
the air, and that on certain nights the stars seemed to have become
detached from the firmament and to be falling upon the earth. These
prodigies were so many warnings granted by the gods to the people
and their kings before great crises in human affairs: the astronomer
investigated and interpreted them, and his predictions had a greater
influence than we are prepared to believe upon the fortunes of
individuals and even of states. The rulers consulted and imposed upon
the astronomers the duty of selecting the most favourable moment for
the execution of the projects they had in view. From an early date each
temple contained a library of astrological writings, where the people
might find, drawn up as in a. code, the signs which bore upon their
destinies. One of these libraries, consisting of not less than seventy
clay tablets, is considered to have been first drawn up in the reign
of Sargon of Agade, but to have been so modified and enriched with new
examples from time to time that the original is well-nigh lost. This was
the classical work on the subject in the VIIth century before our era,
and the astronomers-royal, to whom applications were accustomed to be
made to explain a natural phenomenon or a prodigy, drew their answers
ready-made from it. Astronomy, as thus understood, was not merely the
queen of sciences, it was the mistress of the world: taught secretly
in the temples, its adepts--at least, those who had passed through the
regular curriculum of study which it required--became almost a
distinct class in society. The occupation was a lucrative one, and
its accomplished professors had numerous rivals whose educational
antecedents were unknown, but who excited the envy of the experts in
their trading upon the credulity of the people. These quacks went about
the country drawing up horoscopes, and arranging schemes of birthday
prognostications, of which the majority were without any authentic
warranty. The law sometimes took note of the fact that they were
competing with the official experts, and interfered with their business:
but if they happened to be exiled from one city, they found some
neighbouring one ready to receive them.

Chaldaea abounded with soothsayers and necromancers no less than with
astrologers; she possessed no real school of medicine, such as we find
in Egypt, in which were taught rational methods of diagnosing maladies
and of curing them by the use of simples. The Chaldaeans were content
to confide the care of their bodies to sorcerers and exorcists, who were
experts in the art of casting out demons and spirits, whose presence in
a living being brought about those disorders to which humanity is prone.
The facial expression of the patient during the crisis, the words which
escaped from him in delirium, were, for these clever individuals, so
many signs revealing the nature and sometimes the name of the enemy
to be combated--the Fever-god, the Plague-god, the Headache-god.
Consultations and medical treatment were, therefore, religious offices,
in which were involved purifications, offerings, and a whole ritual of
mysterious words and gestures. The magician lighted a fire of herbs
and sweet-smelling plants in front of his patient, and the clear flame
arising from this put the spectres to flight and dispelled the malign
influences, a prayer describing the enchantments and their effects being
afterwards recited. “The baleful imprecation like a demon has fallen
upon a man;--wail and pain have fallen upon him,--direful wail has
fallen upon him,--the baleful imprecation, the spell, the pains in
the head!--This man, the baleful imprecation slaughters him like a
sheep,--for his god has quitted his body--his goddess has withdrawn
herself in displeasure from him,--a wail of pain has spread itself as a
garment upon him and has overtaken him!” The harm done by the magician,
though terrible, could be repaired by the gods, and Merodach was moved
to compassion betimes. Merodach cast his eyes on the patient, Merodach
entered into the house of his father Ea, saying: “My father, the baleful
curse has fallen like a demon upon the man!” Twice he thus speaks,
and then adds: “What this man ought to do, I know not; how shall he be
healed?” Ea replies to his son Merodach: “My son, what is there that I
could add to thy knowledge?--Merodach, what is there that I could add
to thy knowledge?--That which I know, thou knowest it:--go then, my son,
Merodach,--lead him to the house of purification of the god who prepares
remedies,--and break the spell that is upon him, draw away the charm
which is upon him,--the ill which afflicts his body,--which he suffers
by reason of the curse of his father,--or the curse of his mother,--or
the curse of his eldest brother,--or by the curse of a murderess who is
unknown to the man.--The curse, may it be taken from him by the charm
of Ea,--like a clove of garlic which is stripped skin by skin,--like a
cluster of dates may it be cut off,--like a bunch of flowers may it be
uprooted! The spell, may heaven avert it,--may the earth avert it!” The
god himself deigned to point out the remedy: the sick man was to take
a clove of garlic, some dates, and a stalk bearing flowers, and was to
throw them into the fire, bit by bit, repeating appropriate prayers at
each stage of the operation. “In like manner as this garlic is peeled
and thrown into the fire,--and the burning flame consumes it,--as
it will never be planted in the vegetable garden, it will never draw
moisture from the pond or from the ditch,--its root will never again
spread in the earth,--its stalk will not pierce the ground and behold
the sun,--it will not serve as food for the gods or the king,--so may it
remove the baleful curse, so may it loose the bond--of sickness, of sin,
of shortcomings, of perversity, of crime!--The sickness which is in my
body, in my flesh, in my muscles,--like this garlic may it be stripped
off,--and may the burning flame consume it in this day;--may the spell
of the sorcerer be cast out, that I may behold the light!” The ceremony
could be prolonged at will: the sick person pulled to pieces the cluster
of dates, the bunch of flowers, a fleece of wool, some goats’ hair, a
skein of dyed thread, and a bean, which were all in turn consumed in
the fire. At each stage of the operation he repeated the formula,
introducing into it one or two expressions characterizing the nature of
the particular offering; as, for instance, “the dates will no more hang
from their stalks, the leaves of the branch will never again be united
to the tree, the wool and the hair will never again lie on the back
of the animal on which they grew, and will never be used for weaving
garments.” The use of magical words was often accompanied by remedies,
which were for the most part both grotesque and disgusting in their
composition: they comprised bitter or stinking wood-shavings, raw meat,
snake’s flesh, wine and oil, the whole reduced to a pulp, or made into
a sort of pill and swallowed on the chance of its bringing relief. The
Egyptian physicians employed similar compounds, to which they
attributed wonderful effects, but they made use of them in exceptional
circumstances only. The medical authorities in Chaldaea recommended them
before all others, and their very strangeness reassured the patient as
to their efficacy: they filled the possessing spirits with disgust, and
became a means of relief owing to the invincible horror with which
they inspired the persecuting demons. The Chaldaeans were not, however,
ignorant of the natural virtues of herbs, and at times made use of them;
but they were not held in very high esteem, and the physicians preferred
the prescriptions which pandered to the popular craving for the
supernatural. Amulets further confirmed the effect produced by the
recipes, and prevented the enemy, once cast out, from re-entering the
body; these amulets were made of knots of cord, pierced shells, bronze
or terra-cotta statuettes, and plaques fastened to the arms or worn
round the neck. On each of the latter kind were roughly drawn the most
terrible images that they could conceive, a shortened incantation
was scrawled on its surface, or it was covered with extraordinary
characters, which when the spirits perceived they at once took flight,
and the possessor of the talisman escaped the threatened illness.

However laughable, and at the same time deplorable, this hopeless medley
of exact knowledge and gross superstition may appear to us at the
present day, it was the means of bringing a prosperity to the cities of
Chaldaea which no amount of actual science would ever have produced. The
neighbouring barbaric peoples were imbued with the same ideas as the
Chaldaens regarding the constitution of the world and the nature of the
laws which governed it. They lived likewise in perpetual fear of those
invisible beings whose changeable and arbitrary will actuated all
visible phenomena; they attributed all the reverses and misfortunes
which overtook them to the direct action of these malevolent beings;
they believed firmly in the influence of stars on the course of events;
they were constantly on the look out for prodigies, and were greatly
alarmed by them, since they had no certain knowledge of the number and
nature of their enemies, and the means they had invented for protecting
themselves from them or of overcoming them too often proved inefficient.
In the eyes of these barbarians, the Chaldeans seemed to be possessed of
the very powers which they themselves lacked. The magicians of Chaldaea
had forced the demons to obey them and to unmask themselves before them;
they read with ease in the heavens the present and future of men and
nations; they interpreted the will of the immortals in its smallest
manifestations, and with them this faculty was not a limited and
ephemeral power, quickly exhausted by use: the rites and formulas known
to them enabled them to exercise it freely at all times, in all places,
alike upon the most exalted of the gods and the most dreaded of mortals,
without its ever becoming weakened.

[Illustration:352.jpg A CHALDAEAN AMULET.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Loftus. The
     original is in the British Museum.

A race so endowed with wisdom was, indeed, destined to triumph over
its neighbours, and the latter would have no chance of resisting such
a nation unless they borrowed from it its manners, customs, industry,
writing, and all the arts and sciences which had brought about their
superiority. Chaldaeann civilization spread into Elam and took possession
of the inhabitants of the shores of the Persian Gulf, and then, since
its course was impeded on the south by the sea, on the west by the
desert, and on the east by the mountains, it turned in the direction of
the great northern plains and proceeded up the two rivers, beside whose
lower waters it had been cradled. It was at this very time that the
Pharaohs of the XIIIth dynasty had just completed the conquest of
Nubia. Greater Egypt, made what she was by the efforts of twenty
generations, had become an African power. The sea formed her northern
boundary, the desert and the mountains enclosed her on all sides, and
the Nile appeared the only natural outlet into a new world: she followed
it indefatigably from one cataract to another, colonizing as she passed
all the lands fertilized by its waters. Every step which she made in
this direction increased the distance between her capitals and the
Mediterranean, and brought her armies further south. Asia would have
practically ceased to exist, as far as Egypt was concerned, had not the
repeated incursions of the Bedouin obliged her to make advances from
time to time in that direction; still she crossed the frontier as seldom
as possible, and recalled her troops as soon as they had reduced the
marauders to order: Ethiopia alone attracted her, and it was there that
she firmly established her empire. The two great civilized peoples of
the ancient world, therefore, had each their field of action clearly
marked out, and neither of them had ever ventured into that of the
other. There had been no lack of intercourse between them, and the
encounter of their armies, if it ever really had taken place, had been
accidental, had merely produced passing results, and up till then had
terminated without bringing to either side a decisive advantage.

[Illustration: 354.jpg MAGIC NAIL OF TERRA COTTA]

[Illustration: 355.jpg EGYPTIAN CORNICE BEARING THE CARTOUCHES OF RAMSES
I.]



APPENDIX--THE PHARAOHS OF THE ANCIENT AND MIDDLE EMPIRES

(Dynasties I.-XIV.)


The lists of the Pharaohs of the Memphite period appear to have been
drawn up in much the same order as we now possess them, as early as
the XIIth dynasty: it is certain that the sequence was definitely fixed
about the time of the XXth dynasty, since it was under this that the
Canon of Turin was copied. The lists which have come down to us appear
to follow two traditions, which differ completely in certain cases:
one has been preserved for us by the abbreviators of Manetho, while
the other was the authority followed by the compilers of the tables of
Abydos and Saqqara, as well as by the author of the Turin Papyrus.

There appear to have been in the first five dynasties a certain number
of kings whose exact order and filiation were supposed to be well known
to the compilers; but, at the same time, there were others whose names
were found on the monuments, but whose position with regard to their
predecessors was indicated neither by historical documents nor by
popular romance. We find, therefore, in these two traditional lists
a series of sovereigns always occupying the same position, and others
hovering around them, who have no decided place. The hieroglyphic lists
and the Royal Canon appear to have been chiefly concerned with the
former; but the authorities followed by Manetho have studiously
collected the names of the latter, and have intercalated them in
different places, sometimes in the middle, but mostly at the end of the
dynasty, where they form a kind of _caput mortuum_. The most striking
example of this arrangement is afforded us in the IVth dynasty. The
contemporary monuments show that its kings formed a compact group, to
which are appended the first three sovereigns of the Vth dynasty,
always in the same order: Menkauri succeeded Khafri, Shopsiskaf followed
Menkauri, Usirkaf followed Shopsiskaf, and so on to the end. The lists
of Manetho suppress Shopsiskaf, and substitute four other individuals
in his place, namely, Katoises, Bikheris, Seberkheres, Thamphthis, whose
reigns must have occupied more than half a century; these four were
doubtless aspirants to the throne, or local kings belonging to the time
between the IVth and Vth dynasties, whom Manetho’s authorities inserted
between the compact groups made up of Kheops and his sons on the one
hand, and of Usirkaf and his two real of supposed brothers on the other,
omitting Shopsiskaf, and having no idea that Usirkaf was his immediate
successor, with or without rivals to the throne.

In a course of lectures given at the _College de France_ (1893-95), I
have examined at length the questions raised by a study of the various
lists, and I may be able, perhaps, some day to publish the result of
my researches: for the present I must confine myself merely to what
is necessary to the elucidation of the present work, namely, the
Manethonian tradition on the one hand, and the tradition of the
monumental tables on the other. The text which I propose to follow for
the latter, during the first five dynasties, is that of the second table
of Abydos; the names placed between brackets [ ] are taken either from
the table of Saqqara or from the Royal Canon of Turin. The numbers of
the years, months, and days are those furnished by the last-mentioned
document.

[Illustration: 357.jpg LISTS OF THE PHARAOHS OF THE ANCIENT EMPIRE]

[Illustration: 358.jpg LISTS ON THE MONUMENTS]

From the VIth to the XIIth dynasty, the lists of Manetho are at fault:
they give the origin and duration of the dynasties, without furnishing
us with the names of the kings.

[Illustration: 359.jpg LISTS ON THE MONUMENTS]

This blank is partially filled by the table of Abydos, by the fragments
of the Turin Papyrus, and by information supplied by the monuments. No
such definitely established sequence appears to have existed for this
period, as for the preceding ones. The Heracleopolitan dynasties
figure, perhaps, in the Canon of Turin only; as for the later Memphite
dynasties, the table of Abydos gives one series of Pharaohs, while the
Canon adopts a different one. After the close of the VIth dynasty, and
before the accession of the IXth, there was, doubtless, a period when
several branches of the royal family claimed the supremacy and ruled in
different parts of Egypt: this is what we know to have taken place later
between the XXIInd and the XXIVth dynasties. The tradition of Abydos
had, perhaps, adopted one of these contemporaneous dynasties, while
the Turin Papyrus had chosen another: Manetho, on the other hand,
had selected from among them, as representatives of the legitimate
succession, the line reigning at Memphis which immediately followed
the sovereigns of the VIth dynasty. The following table gives both the
series known, as far as it is possible for the present to re-establish
the order:--

[Illustration: 360.jpg LISTS ON THE MONUMENTS]

The XIth (Theban) dynasty contains but a small number of kings according
to the official lists. The tables on the monuments recognize only two,
Nibkhrouri and Sonkhkari, but the Turin Canon admits at least half a
dozen. These differences probably arose from the fact that, the second
Heracleopolitan dynasty having reigned at the same time as the earlier
Theban princes, the tables on the monuments, while rejecting the
Heracleopolitans, recognized as legitimate Pharaohs only those of the
Theban kings who had ruled over the whole of Egypt, namely, the first
and last of the series; the Canon, on the contrary, replaced the later
Heracleopolitans by those among the contemporary Thebans who had
assumed the royal titles. Whatever may have been the cause of these
combinations, we find the lists again harmonizing with the accession of
the XIIth (Theban) dynasty.

For the succeeding dynasties we possess merely the names enumerated on
the fragments of the Turin Papyrus, several of which, however, are
also found either in the royal chamber at Karnak, or on contemporary
monuments. The order of the names is not always certain: it is, perhaps,
best to transcribe the sequence as we are able to gather it from the
fragments of the Royal Papyrus, without attempting to distinguish
between those which belong to the XIIIth and those which must be.
relegated to the following dynasties.

[Illustration: 361.jpg LISTS ON THE MONUMENTS]

About fifty names still remain, but so mutilated and scattered over
such small fragments of papyrus, that their order is most uncertain. We
possess monuments of about one-fifth of these kings, and the lengths of
their reigns, as far as we know them, all appear to have been short:
we have no reason to doubt that they did really govern, and we can only
hope that in time the progress of excavation will yield us records of
them one after another. They bring us down to the period of the invasion
of the Shepherds, and it is possible that some among them may be found
to be contemporaries of the XVth and XVIth dynasties.

[Illustration: 362.jpg Tailpiece]





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