Discoveries At Nineveh
Austen Henry Layard, Esq., D.C.L.
A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh. Austen Henry Layard. J. C. Derby. New York. 1854.
The chambers at Nimroud had been filled up with earth, and the sculptures once more concealed from the eye of man. The surrounding country became daily more dangerous from the incursions of the Arabs of the desert, who now began to encamp even on the east bank of the Tigris. It was time, therefore, to leave the village. As a small sum of money still remained at my disposal, I resolved to devote it to an examination of the ruins opposite Mosul; particularly of the great mound of Kouyunjik. Although excavations on a small scale had already been made there, I had not hitherto had time to superintend them myself, and in such researches the natives of the country can not be trusted. It is well known that almost since the fall of the Assyrian empire, a city of some extent, representing the ancient Nineveh, although no longer the seat of government, nor a place of great importance, has stood on the banks of the Tigris in this part of its course. The modern city may not have been built above the ruins of the ancient; but it certainly rose in their immediate vicinity, either to the east of the river, or to the west, as the modern Mosul. The slabs, which had once lined the walls of the old palaces, and still remained concealed within mounds of earth, had been frequently exposed by accident or by design. Those who were settling in the neighborhood soon found that the ruins were an inexhaustible mine of building materials. The alabaster was dug out to be either used in the construction of houses, or to be burnt for lime. A few years before, a bas-relief had been discovered in one part of the ruins, during a search after stones for the repair of a bridge. The removal of slabs, and the destruction of sculptures, for similar purposes, may have been going on for centuries. There was, therefore, some reason to doubt whether any edifice, except in a very imperfect state, still existed in Kouyunjik. I knew that under the village, containing the tomb of the prophet Jonah, there were remains of considerable importance, probably as entire as those at Nimroud. They owe their preservation to the existence, from a very remote period, of the tomb and village above them. Portions of sculpture, and inscriptions, had frequently been found, when the inhabitants of the place had made the foundations of their dwellings; and when Ali Pashaw of Baghdad caused a well to be dug for the benefit of the mosque, a pair of winged bulls had been discovered at a considerable depth beneath the surface. But the prejudices of the people of Mosul forbade any attempt to explore a spot so venerated for its sanctity.
The palaces of Nimroud being far distant from any large town, when once buried were not disturbed. It does not appear that after the fall of the empire any place of importance rose near them, except Selamiyah. This village is three miles from the ruins, and there are no remains near it to show that, at any time since the Assyrian period, it was any thing more than a small market-town. It may, consequently, be inferred that the great mound of Nimroud has never been opened, and its contents carried away for building purposes, since the destruction of the latest palace; except, as it has already been mentioned, when a pashaw of Mosul endeavored to remove one or two slabs to repair the tomb of a Mussulman saint.
There can, I think, be little doubt that the edifices of which the remains exist at Nimroud, Kouyunjik, and Khorsabad, at one time formed part of the same great city. Each of these palace-temples (for such they appear to have been) was probably the center of a separate quarter, built at a different period, and having a different name. Thus on the inscribed bricks we find distinct names applying to the localities from which they are derived; and this will explain the names of Mespila and Larissa assigned by Xenophon, respectively, to the ruins at Kouyunjik and Nimroud, and that of Evorita given to the palace in which Saracus, the last of the Assyrian kings, is said to have destroyed himself. Each quarter being, at one time, a royal residence, was surrounded by a wall and fortifications, and probably contained rather hunting-grounds and gardens than fixed habitations. They resembled, in fact, the paradises or parks of the later Persian kings. The space between these quarters was occupied by private houses standing in the midst of gardens, orchards, and corn-land. I know no other way of reconciling the unanimous statements of ancient historians, as well as of the inspired writers, as to the extent of Nineveh, nor of explaining the fact that each of the great edifices explored, owed their foundation to different kings, and that there are no remains, either at Kouyunjik or Khorsabad, of the same early period as those at Nimroud. The dimensions of the city given by Diodorus Siculus were 150 stadia for the two longest sides of the quadrangle, and 90 for the shortest, the square being 480 stadia or about 60 miles. Jonah calls it "an exceeding great city of three days' journey," the number of inhabitants, who did not know their right hand from their left being six score thousand. 1 It is certainly remarkable that the three days' journey of Jonah should correspond exactly with the sixty miles of the geographer, and that a square formed by the great ruins on the east bank of the Tigris, taking Nimroud, Kouyunjik, Khorsabad, and Karamless as the four corners, should give very nearly the same result. 2 These fortified quarters were not all inclosed within one wall: it is probable that in the event of a siege, the population of the intermediate spaces and suburbs took refuge within the different fortifications.
It would appear from existing monuments that the city was originally founded on the spot now occupied by the ruins of Nimroud. No better position could be chosen than the Delta formed by the junction of two large rivers, the Tigris and the Zab. The N. W. palace was the first built; successive monarchs added the center palace, and other edifices which rose by its side. As the population increased, and conquered nations were brought, like the people of Samaria, from distant lands and settled around the Assyrian capital, the dimensions of the city increased also. A king founding a new dynasty, or anxious to perpetuate his fame, and to record his conquests, chose a new site for the erection of a palace. The city, gradually spreading, at length embraced all these buildings. Thus Nimroud represents the original site of Nineveh. The son of the builder of the oldest palace founded a new edifice at Baashiekhah. At a much later period subsequent monarchs erected their temple-palaces at Khorsabad and Kouyunjik. Their descendants returned to Nimroud, the principal buildings of which had been allowed to fall to decay, and were probably already concealed by a mass of ruins and rubbish. The city had now attained the dimensions assigned to it by the Greek geographers, and by the sacred writings. The numerous royal residences, surrounded by gardens and parks, and inclosed by fortified walls, each being a distinct quarter known by a different name, formed together the great city of Nineveh.
It is not difficult to account for the total disappearance of the dwelling-places which occupied the space between the palaces. They were probably little superior to the huts of the present inhabitants of the country, and, like them, constructed entirely of sun dried bricks. As soon as they were allowed to fall to decay, the materials of which they were built became again mingled with the soil, and after a lapse of the very few years scarcely a trace of them would exist. Thus a modern village of Assyria, when once deserted, is rapidly replaced by a mere inequality in the plain. There is, however, still sufficient to indicate that buildings were once spread over the space I have described; for scarcely a husbandman drives his plow over the soil without turning up the vestiges of former habitations. The larger and more important monuments are fully represented by the numerous mounds which are scattered over the plain. It must be remembered that even the palaces would have remained undiscovered had not slabs of alabaster marked the walls.
We can not identify in any other way than that I have suggested, all the ruins described with the site of Nineveh; unless, indeed, we suppose that there were more than one city of that name, the later rebuilt on a new site after the destruction of the earlier. In this case Nimroud and Kouyunjik may each represent the Nineveh of a different epoch. The size, which I have assigned to the city at the time of its greatest prosperity, can not, I think, be deemed extravagant when the nature of Eastern cities is taken into consideration. They do not bear the same proportion to their populations as those of Europe. A place as extensive as London or Paris would not contain one third of the inhabitants of either. The custom, prevalent from the earliest period in the East, of secluding women in apartments removed from those of the men, renders a separate house for each family almost indispensable. 3 It was probably as rare, in the time of the Assyrian monarchy, to find more than one family residing under one roof, unless composed of persons very intimately related, such as father and son, as it is at present in an Arab or Turkish city. Moreover, that gardens and arable land were inclosed by the houses, we learn from Diodorus Siculus and Quintus Curtius, who state that there was space enough, even within the precincts of Babylon, to cultivate corn for the sustenance of the whole population in case of siege, besides orchards and gardens. 4 From the expression of Jonah that there was much cattle within the city, 5 it may be inferred that there was also pasture for them; and we learn from the sculptures that a large portion of the population even resided in tents within the walls, - a custom still prevailing in Baghdad, Mosul, and the neighboring towns; and a far larger space must have been required for such encampments than for huts or cottages. The cities of Isfahan and Damascus, with their gardens and suburbs, must, during the time of their greatest prosperity, have been little inferior in size to Nineveh.
Existing ruins show that Nineveh had acquired its greatest extent and prosperity in the time of the kings of the second dynasty, that is to say, of the kings mentioned in the Scriptures. It was then that Jonah visited it, and that reports of its size and magnificence were carried to the west, and gave rise to those traditions from which the Greeks mainly derived the information handed down to us. It was then, too, that the wealth, luxury, and power of its inhabitants called forth the indignant protests of the prophets, and led to those vices and that effeminacy which ultimately brought about the destruction of the city and the fall of the empire.
By the middle of May, I had finished my work at Nimroud. My house was dismantled. The windows and doors, which had been temporarily fitted up, were taken out; and, with the little furniture that had been collected together, were placed on the backs of donkeys and camels to be carried to the town. The Arabs struck their tents and commenced their march. I remained behind until every one had left, and then turned my back upon the deserted village. We were the last to quit the plains of Nimroud; and, indeed, nearly the whole country to the south of Mosul, as far as the Zab, became, after our departure, a wilderness.
Half-way between Mosul and Nimroud the road crosses a low hill. From its crest, both the town and the ruins are visible. On one side, in the distance, rises the pyramid, in the midst of the broad plain of the Jaif, and on the other may be faintly distinguished the great artificial mound of Kouyunjik, and the surrounding remains. The leaning minaret of the old mosque of Mosul may also be seen springing above the dark patch which marks the site of the town. The river can be traced for many miles, winding in the midst of the plain, suddenly losing itself among low hills, and again emerging into the level country. The whole space over which the eye ranges from this spot, was probably once covered with the buildings and gardens of the Assyrian capital - that great city of three days' journey. At an earlier period, that distant pyramid directed the traveler from afar to Nineveh, when the limits of the city were small. It was then one of those primitive settlements which, for the first time, had been formed by the congregated habitations of men. To me the long dark line of mounds in the distance were objects of deep interest. I reined up my horse to look upon them for the last time - for from no other part of the road are they visible - and then galloped on toward Mosul.
In excavating at Kouyunjik, I pursued the plan adopted at Nimroud. I resided in the town. The Arabs pitched their tents on the summit of the mound, at the entrances to the trenches. The Tiyari encamped at its foot, on the banks of the Khausser, the small stream which flows through the ruins. The nearness of the ruins to Mosul, enabled the inhabitants of the town to gratify their curiosity by a constant inspection of my proceedings; and a crowd of gaping Mussulmans and Christians was continually gathered round the trenches. I rode to the mound early every morning, and remained there during the day.
The French consul had carried on his excavations for some time at Kouyunjik, without finding any traces of building. He was satisfied with digging pits or wells, a few feet deep, and then renouncing the attempt, if no sculptures or inscriptions were uncovered. By excavating in this desultory manner, if any remains of building existed underground, their discovery would be a mere chance. An acquaintance with the nature and position of the ancient edifices of Assyria, will at once suggest the proper method of examining the mounds which inclose them. The Assyrians, when about to build a palace or temple, appear to have first constructed a platform of sun dried bricks and earth, about thirty or forty feet above the level of the plain. Upon it they raised the monument. When the building was destroyed, its ruins, already half-buried by the falling in of the upper walls and roof, were in process of time completely covered by the dust and sand, carried about by the hot winds of summer. Consequently, in digging for remains, the first step is to reach the platform of sun-dried bricks. When this is discovered, the trenches must be opened to the level of it, and not deeper; they should then be continued in opposite directions, care being always taken to keep along the platform. By these means, if there be any ruins, they must necessarily be discovered, supposing the trenches to be long enough; for the chambers of the Assyrian edifices are generally narrow, and their walls, or the slabs which cased them if fallen, must sooner or later be reached.
At Kouyunjik, the accumulation of rubbish and earth was very considerable, and to reach the platform of unbaked bricks, trenches were dug to the depth of twenty and even thirty feet. Before beginning the excavations, I carefully examined all parts of the mound, to ascertain where remains of buildings might most probably exist; and at length decided upon continuing my researches where I had commenced them last summer, near the S. W. corner.
The workmen had been digging for several days without finding any other remains than fragments of calcined alabaster, sufficient, however, to encourage me to persevere in the examination of this part of the ruins. One morning as I was in Mosul, two Arab women came to me, and announced that sculptures had been discovered. They had hurried from the mounds as soon as the first slab had been exposed to view; and blowing up the skins, which they always carry with them, had crossed the river upon them. They had scarcely received the present claimed in the East by the bearers of good tidings, and the expectation of which had led to the display of so much eagerness, than one of my overseers, who was generally known from his corpulence as Toma Shishman, or fat Toma, made his appearance, breathless from his exertions. He had hurried as fast as his legs could carry him over the bridge, to obtain the reward carried off, in this instance, by the women.
I rode immediately to the ruins; and, on entering the trenches, found that the workmen had reached a wall, and the remains of an entrance. The only slab as yet uncovered had been almost completely destroyed by fire. It stood on the edge of a deep ravine which ran far into the southern side of the mound.
As the excavations at Kouyunjik were carried on in precisely the same manner as those at Nimroud, I need not trouble the reader with any detailed account of my proceedings. The wall first discovered proved to be the side of a chamber. By following it we reached an entrance formed by winged bulls, leading into a second hall. In a month nine chambers had been explored.
The palace had been destroyed by fire. The alabaster slabs were almost reduced to lime, and many of them fell to pieces as soon as uncovered. The places, which others had occupied, could only be traced by a thin white deposit, like a coat of plaster, left by the burnt alabaster upon the wall of sun-dried bricks.
In its architecture, the newly discovered edifice resembled the palaces of Nimroud and Khorsabad. The chambers were long and narrow; the walls of unbaked brick, with a paneling of sculptured slabs. The bas-reliefs were, however, much larger in their dimensions than those generally found at Nimroud, being about ten feet high, and from eight to nine feet wide. The winged human-headed bulls, forming the entrances, were from fourteen to sixteen feet square. The slabs, unlike those I had hitherto discovered, were not divided in the center by bands of inscription, but were completely covered with figures. The bas-reliefs were greatly inferior in general design, and in the beauty of the details, to those of the earliest palace of Nimroud; but in many parts they were very carefully and minutely finished: in this respect Kouyunjik yields to no other known monument in Assyria. The winged bulls resembled those of Khorsabad in their head-dress and high cap, surmounted by a crest of feathers and richly ornamented with rosettes, like that of the winged monsters of Persepolis. Some of the bulls had four legs, others five, as at Nimroud. 7 In the costumes of the warriors, and in the trappings and caparisons of the horses, the sculptures resembled those of Khorsabad.
Inscriptions were not numerous. They occurred between the legs of the winged bulls, above the head of the king, on bas-reliefs representing the siege or sack of a city, and on the backs of slabs; but they were all more or less injured. Those on the bulls were long, the same inscription being continued on the two sides of an entrance. As four pairs of these colossal figures were discovered, each pair bearing nearly the same inscription, the whole may be restored from the fragments. 8
The king, whose name is on the sculptures and bricks from Kouyunjik, was the father of the builder of the S. W. palace at Nimroud, and the son of the Khorsabad king. Long before the discovery of the ruins, I had conjectured, from a hasty examination of a few fragments of sculpture and inscription picked up on the mound, that the building which once stood there must be referred to the time of the Khorsabad king, or of his immediate predecessors or successors.
A few vases and fragments of pottery were discovered in the earth, above the ruins; but no sarcophagi, or tombs with human remains, like those of Nimroud and Kalah Sherghat. The foundations of buildings, of roughly hewn stone, were also found above the Assyrian edifice. One or two small glass bottles, many fragments of glass, several inscribed tablets in clay, and one or two detached slabs covered with inscriptions, were taken out of the rubbish. 9
The slabs forming the entrance to the first chamber 10 in the excavations had been almost destroyed. The colossal figures which had been sculptured upon them were probably those of mythic deities such as had been found at Nimroud. The extremities of these figures were alone preserved. They were those of an eagle or vulture: to them were united, it would appear from subsequent discoveries, the body of a man and the head of a lion. The walls of the chamber had suffered no less than the doorway. Upon them could be traced processions of warriors, and captives passing through a thickly wooded, mountainous country; the mountains being represented, as in the bas-reliefs of Nimroud, by a network of lines. On the fragment of a slab was an eunuch carrying a utensil resembling a censer, and standing before an altar, near which were vessels of various shapes.
The southern extremity of the great hall, 11 into which the chamber just described opened, had been completely destroyed. Its width was about forty-five feet, and the length of the western wall from the entrance of the small chamber (to the south of which it could not be traced), was nearly one hundred and sixty feet. The first bas-relief on entering represented the burning and sacking of a city, and was divided into several compartments by parallel lines. In the upper, which occupied about half the sculpture, were represented houses, some two and three stories high; they had been fired by the enemy, and flames were issuing from the windows and doors. Beneath were three rows of warriors, marching in regiments, each distinguished by different helmets, arms, and shields. Some wore the pointed helmet peculiar to the Assyrians in the Nimroud sculptures, but with the addition of lappets falling over the ears. They bore concave oval shields, large enough to cover the greater part of the person - probably of metal, the center and margin being ornamented with bosses. The conquerors were carrying away the spoil, consisting of furniture, vases, chariots and horses. Beneath the figures were vines bearing grapes. The captured city stood upon a mountain. Above it was a short inscription, unfortunately almost illegible, containing its name, and a record of the event represented in the bas-relief.
On an adjoining slab was a mountain clothed with forests. Among the trees were warriors, some descending in military array, and leading prisoners toward a castle; others ascending the steep rocks with the aid of their spears, or resting, seated under the trees. The same subject had evidently been continued on the next slab, which had been destroyed.
After these bas-reliefs came an entrance formed by two winged bulls, nearly sixteen feet and a half square, and sculptured out of one slab. The human heads of these colossal animals had been entirely destroyed. Of the inscription which once covered the parts of the slabs not sculptured, there remained only a few lines. Notwithstanding the size of the bulls, this entrance scarcely exceeded six feet in width, thus differing from those at Nimroud. The pavement was formed by one slab, elaborately ornamented with flowers resembling the lotus. Behind the sculptures was a short inscription containing the names and titles of the king.
Beyond this entrance, to the distance of nearly sixty feet, only two slabs were preserved. On one was the interior of a castle, the walls and towers represented, as at Nimroud, by a kind of ground plan. The city had been taken by the Assyrians, and the king, seated on his throne, placed within the walls, was receiving the prisoners and spoil brought to him by his vizier. His dress differed in many respects from that of the monarch in the earlier sculptures at Nimroud. His tiara was higher, more pointed, made up of several bands, and richly ornamented. The ornaments on his robes consisted of rosettes and fringes, elaborate groups of men and animals not being introduced as in the more ancient sculptures. He was seated on a chair with a high back, and his feet rested on an elegant footstool. Behind the throne stood two eunuchs holding fans over the head of the monarch. The arms of the prisoners were fastened in front by fetters, probably of metal. 12 Within the walls of the city, as in the bas-reliefs discovered at Nimroud, were houses and tents, in which were men engaged in a variety of domestic occupations, and articles of furniture, such as tables, couches, and chairs. Suspended to the tent-poles were vases, probably, as is still the custom in the East, to cool water. Above the head of the king was one line of inscription containing his name and titles. The castle was built on a mountain, and was surrounded by trees.
On the other slab was represented the invasion of a mountainous country. The enemy defended the summit of a wooded hill against Assyrian warriors, who were scaling the rocks, supporting themselves with their spears and with poles, or drawing themselves up by the branches of trees. Others, returning from the combat, were descending the mountains driving captives before them, or carrying away the heads of the slain.
A spacious entrance at the upper, or northern end of the hall opened into a small chamber, which will be hereafter described. 13 The bulls forming this portal were in better preservation than those previously discovered. Their human heads, with the high and elaborately adorned tiara of the later Assyrian period, although greatly injured, could still be distinguished. The greater part of the inscription was also entire.
Upon the two slabs beyond this entrance was a bas-relief of considerable interest. Vessels filled with warriors, and females, were seen leaving a castle, built on the sea-shore at the foot of a mountain. At a gate opening upon the water stood a man placing in the open arms of a woman, who had already embarked in one of the ships, a young child. The sea was indicated by wavy lines, covering the slab from top to bottom, among which were fish, crabs, and turtles. The vessels were of two kinds. The larger had one mast, to the top of which was attached a long yard, held in its place by ropes. The sail was furled. It had two, or perhaps three decks, as there were double tiers of rowers. On the upper deck, which was high out of the water when compared with the depth of the keel, were warriors armed with spears, and women wearing high turbans or caps, to the back of which long vails were attached. The fore part of the vessel rose perpendicularly from a low sharp prow, resembling a plowshare, which may have been of metal, as in the Roman galleys, to disable and sink the enemy's ships. The stern was curved from the keel, and ended in a high point rising above the upper deck. The vessel appears to have been steered by two long oars. Eight rowers were represented on a side, but the number was probably conventional. The lower tier was concealed by the sides of the vessel, the oars issuing from small port-holes. The smaller vessel had no mast, and the head and stern were alike; it was furnished with a double deck, and had the same number of rowers as the larger. Shields were suspended around the upper decks of both. 14
The larger vessel closely resembles in form the galleys represented on coins of a very early date, which were probably struck by Phoenician colonies during the Persian supremacy, the reverse bearing the effigy of the Persian king in his chariot, as found on Darics and cylinders of the same period. The galleys on these coins and in the bas-reliefs are further identified with those of the Syrian coast by the coins of Sidon of a later period, which bear on one side a vessel of similar shape, and on the other the head of an Assyrian goddess. It is highly probable, therefore, that the sculptures described represent the siege and capture of Tyre, Sidon, or some other city on the Mediterranean, and the flight of the conquered people. History has recorded the wars of Shalmaneser with the Tyrians, under their king Elulaeus, and the subjection of the whole of Phoenicia by the Assyrian monarch; 15 and, according to Eusebius, who quotes from Abydenus, Sennacherib defeated the Greek fleet on the Cilician coast. It is to one of these two kings that I would attribute the foundation of the great palace of which the ruins opposite Mosul are the remains; and it is remarkable that the rock-tablets at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kelb river near Beyrout in Syria were erected by the Kouyunjik king, and bear his name. Records of the Khorsabad king, his father, have been discovered in Cyprus. 16
Materials derived from distant countries, and of the most costly description, were employed in the construction of the Tyrian vessels. The "ship-boards were of the fir trees of Senir," the masts of the cedars of Lebanon, the oars of the oaks of Bashan, and the benches of ivory brought from the isles of Chittim, and carved by the Ashurites, probably the Assyrians, of whose skill we have full proof in the beautiful ivories from Nimroud. "Fine linen, with broidered work from Egypt," was used for sails, and the ornaments were of "blue and purple, from the Isles of Elishah." The men of Zidon and Arvad were employed as mariners, and the management and sailing of the vessel were confided to the pilots of Tyre, who, by long experience, were well versed in the art of navigation, and were consequently looked upon as "the wise men" in a city of sailors and merchants. 17 In these vessels the Phoenicians coasted along the shores of the Mediterranean and entered the ocean, carrying on an active commerce with the most distant nations, establishing their colonies, and diffusing far and wide their civilization, their arts, and their language.
The castles of the people who are taking refuge in the ships, are distinguished by the shields hung round the walls, a peculiarity which appears to illustrate a passage in Ezekiel 18 concerning Tyre: "The men of Arvad, with thine army, were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about."
On the two slabs adjoining the sea-piece was represented the besieging army. The upper part of both had been destroyed; on the lower were still preserved a few Assyrian warriors, protected by the high wicker shield, and discharging arrows in the direction of the castle, and rows of prisoners, with their hands bound, led away by the conquerors.
On the eastern side of the hall was a third entrance, also formed by human-headed bulls. Adjoining were bas-reliefs representing a battle in a hilly country, wooded with pines or fir-trees.
Beyond this entrance the slabs, although in some places entire, had been so much injured by fire that only one bas-relief was preserved. It represented a battle and the sack of a city, and was divided into six compartments. Warriors were dragging chariots, and driving horses and cattle out of the castle gates, others were combating with horsemen and footmen, and in the two lower compartments were lines of chariots, each holding three warriors. The chariots differed in many respects from those of the earlier sculptures of Nimroud, and appear to resemble more closely the chariot of the Persepolitan bas-reliefs, and of the Mosaic in the museum at Naples, supposed to be that of Darius. They were much more roomy and higher, the wheels being almost the height of a man. The ornamented frame work stretching from the fore part to the end of the pole of the ancient chariots, was replaced by a thin rod, or by a rope or leather thong, knotted in the center. The harness of the horses also differed. The upper part of the chariot was square and not rounded, and a projection in front, instead of the quivers suspended at the sides, held the arrows of the archer. The panels were carved and adorned with rosettes; the wheels had eight, and not six spokes, the felloes being bound and strengthened by four metal bands. 19
The western entrance led into a second hall, 20 the four sides of which, although the bas-reliefs had unfortunately suffered greatly from fire, were almost entire.
The slabs to the left appear to have been divided into three compartments, each occupied by rows of warriors differently armed and accoutered, probably denoting the allies of the Assyrians. In the first were archers distinguished by their short tunics richly embroidered and by their head-dress, consisting of a simple fillet confining their long hair; in the second, were slingers wearing the pointed helmet, and in the third spearmen with a circular shield and a crested casque. The slingers held a second stone in the left hand, and in front of them was a pile of stones ready for use. Their slings appear to have been formed by a double rope or leather thong. 21 They were attired in armor and greaves. The spearmen wore a short linen tunic, confined round the waist by a belt, probably of metal. A kind of cross-belt passed over their shoulders and was ornamented in front with a circular disk. They also wore greaves.
On the following slabs was one subject - the taking by assault of a city or castle, built near a river in a mountainous country and surrounded by trees. Warriors armed with spears were scaling the rocks, slaying the besieged on the house-tops, and leading off the captives.
On the adjoining corner stone were two scribes, one an eunuch, writing down on rolls of leather or some flexible material, the number of heads of the slaughtered enemy laid at their feet by the Assyrian warriors. Thus were the heads of the seventy sons of Ahab brought in baskets to Jezreel and laid "in two heaps at the entering in of the gate ;" 22 and such is still the mode of reckoning the loss of an enemy in the East.
The remainder of the wall from this slab to an entrance formed by human-headed bulls, had been greatly injured by fire. The bas-reliefs appear to have represented the conquest of a mountainous and wooded country. The king in his chariot was receiving the prisoners and the spoil.
Beyond the entrance, as far as the bas-reliefs could be traced, the same subject appears to have been continued. The king was again represented standing in his chariot, holding a bow in his left hand, and raising his right in token of triumph. He was accompanied by a charioteer, and by an attendant bearing all open umbrella, from which fell a long curtain as a complete screen from the sun. The chariot was drawn by two horses, and was preceded by spearmen and archers. Above the king there had originally been a short inscription, probably containing his name and titles, but it had been entirely defaced. Horsemen, crossing well wooded mountains, were separated from the group just described, by a river abounding in fish.
The remaining bas-reliefs in this chamber appear to have recorded similar events, - the conquests of the Assyrians, and the triumphs of their king. Only four of them had been preserved; the rest were almost completely destroyed. On two of them was portrayed, with great spirit, the taking by assault of a city. Warriors, armed with spears, were mounting ladders, placed against the walls; those who manned the battlements and towers being held in check and assailed by archers who discharged their arrows from below. The enemy defended themselves with spears and bows, and carried small oblong shields. Above the castle a short inscription recorded the name of the captured city. Under the walls were captives, driven off by the conquerors; and above and below were mountains, trees, and a river, to indicate the nature of the country.
The west entrance of this hall 23 led into a further chamber, a part only of which I was able to explore. On two slabs was a mountainous country, with a river running through the midst of it. The higher parts of the mountains were clothed with a forest of pines or firs, the middle region by vineyards, and the lower by trees resembling those sculptured on other slabs, probably the dwarf oak of the country. As the king was represented in his chariot, accompanied by many horsemen in the midst of the forest, it may be presumed that the Assyrians had opened roads through the mountainous districts of their empire.
The remaining slabs were covered from top to bottom with rows of warriors, spearmen, and archers, in their respective costumes, and in martial array. Each slab must have contained several hundred minute figures, which probably represented regularly disciplined troops; for like the Egyptians, the Assyrians were evidently acquainted with military tactics, and possessed organized armies. In several bas-reliefs, troops were represented, drawn up to form a kind of phalanx, or the more modern military square.
The three small chambers to the west of the hall last described 24 had been so much injured by fire that few slabs retained traces of sculpture. Among the bas-reliefs remaining, were the siege and capture of a city standing on the banks of a river in the midst of forests and mountains, with warriors cutting down trees, to form an approach to the castle, and carrying away the idols of the conquered people; a fisherman fishing with a hook and line in a pond; 25 and warriors receiving long lines of captives, among whom were women and children riding mules.
The wide portal, formed by the winged bulls at the upper end of the great hall first discovered, opened into a small chamber, which had no other entrance. 26 One side of it had been completely destroyed. The remaining bas-reliefs represented the siege and sack of a city between two rivers, in the midst of the groves of palm-trees, and consequently, it may be conjectured, in some part of Mesopotamia. There was, fortunately an inscription above the captured city, which probably contains its name. The king was represented, several times, in his chariot, superintending the operations of the siege. The besiegers were cutting down the palms to open and clear the approaches to the walls.
A part only of the chamber to the east of the great hall 27 was uncovered. Many of the sculptures had been intentionally destroyed with some sharp instrument, and all had suffered, more or less, from fire. On some could be traced warriors urging their horses at full speed; and others discharging their arrows backward. Beneath the horsemen were rows of chariots and led horses. In their trappings and harness the Kouyunjik horses differed completely from those represented in the bas-reliefs of Nimroud. Their heads were generally surmounted by an arched crest, and bells or tassels were hung round their necks; or, as at Khorsabad, high plumes, generally three in number, rose between their ears. After my departure from Mosul, Mr. Ross continued the excavations in this chamber, and found several other slabs, and an entrance formed by four sphinxes. The bas-reliefs appear to have been part of the series previously uncovered, and represented chariots, horsemen, archers, and warriors in mail. The country in which the events recorded took place, was indicated by a river and palm trees. In front of these bas-reliefs, he discovered an immense square slab, which he conjectures to have been a dais or altar, resembling that in the great hall of the N. W. palace at Nimroud.
This was the extent of my discoveries at Kouyunjik. From the dimensions of some of the halls, it is evident that the ruins are those of a building of great extent and magnificence. The mound upon which it stood was once washed by the river. Then also the edifice, now covered by the village of Nebbi Yunus, rose above the stream, and the two palaces were inclosed in one vast square by lofty walls cased with stone-their towers adorned with sculptured alabaster, and their gateways formed by colossal bulls.
As I have described the ruins as they were discovered during the excavations, it may not be here out of place to add a few words on the subject of the architecture of the Assyrians, and restore, as far as the remains will permit, the fallen palaces.
The architecture of a people must naturally depend upon the materials afforded by the country, and upon the object of their buildings. The descriptions, already given in the course of this work of the ruined edifices of ancient Assyria, are sufficient to show that they differed, in many respects, from those of any other nation with which we are acquainted. Had the Assyrians, so fertile in invention, so skillful in the arts, and so ambitious of great works, dwelt in a country as rich in stone and costly granites and marbles as Egypt or India, it can scarcely be doubted that they would have equaled, if not excelled, the inhabitants of those countries in the magnitude of their pyramids, and in the magnificence of their rock temples and palaces. But their principal settlements were in the alluvial plains watered by the Tigris and Euphrates. On the banks of those great rivers, which spread fertility through the land, and afford the means of easy and expeditious intercourse between distant provinces, they founded their first cities. On all sides they had vast plains, unbroken by a single eminence until they approached the foot of the Armenian hills.
The earliest habitations, constructed when little progress had been made in the art of building, were probably but one story in height. In this respect the dwelling of the ruler scarcely differed from the meanest hut. It soon became necessary, how ever, that the temples of the gods, and the palaces of the kings, depositories at the same time of the national records, should be rendered more conspicuous than the humble edifices by which they were surrounded. The nature of the country also required that the castle, the place of refuge in times of danger, or the permanent residence of the garrison, should be raised above the city so as to afford the best means of resistance to an enemy. As there were no natural eminences in the country, the inhabitants were compelled to construct artificial mounds. Hence the origin of those vast, solid structures which have defied the hand of time; and, with their grass-covered summits and furrowed sides, rise like natural hills in the Assyrian plains.
Let us picture to ourselves the migration of one of the primitive families of the human race, seeking for some spot favorable to a permanent settlement, where water abounded, and where the land, already productive without cultivation, promised an ample return to the labor of the husbandman. They may have followed him who went out of the land of Shinar, to found new habitations in the north; 28 or they may have descended from the mountains of Armenia; whence came, according to the Chaldean historian, the builders of the cities of Assyria. 29 It was not until they reached the banks of the great rivers, if they came from the high lands, or only while they followed their course, if they journeyed from the south, that they could find a supply of water adequate to the permanent wants of a large community. The plain, bounded to the west and south by the Tigris and Zab, from its fertility, and from the ready means of irrigation afforded by two noble streams, may have been first chosen as a resting-place; and there were laid the foundations of a city, destined to be the capital of the eastern world.
The materials for building were at hand, and in their preparation required neither much labor nor ingenuity. The soil, an alluvial deposit, was rich and tenacious. The builders moistened it with water, and, adding a little chopped straw that it might be more firmly bound together, they formed it into squares, which, when dried by the heat of the sun, served them as bricks. In that climate the process required but two or three days. Such were the earliest building materials; and they are used to this day almost exclusively in the same country. In Egypt, too, they were employed at the remotest period; and the Egyptians, to harass their Jewish captives, withheld the straw without which their bricks could not preserve their form and consistency.
Huts for the people were speedily raised, and roofed with the branches and boughs of trees from the banks of the river.
The inhabitants of the new settlement now sought to build a place of refuge in case of attack, or a dwelling place for their leader, or a temple to their gods. In order to raise the edifice above the plain, and to render it conspicuous among the surrounding habitations, it was erected on an artificial mound constructed for the purpose of earth and rubbish, or of sun-dried bricks. 30
The palaces and temples appear to have been at the same time public monuments, in which were preserved the records or archives of the nation, carved on stone. In them were represented in sculpture the exploits of the kings, and the forms of the divinities; while the history of the people, and invocations to their gods, were inscribed in written characters upon the walls. It was necessary, therefore, to use in the building, some material upon which figures and inscriptions could be carved. The plains of Mesopotamia, as well as the low lands between the Tigris and the hill country, abound in a kind of coarse alabaster or gypsum. Large masses of it everywhere protrude in low ridges from the alluvial soil, or are exposed in the gullies formed by winter torrents. It yields readily to the chisel, and its color and transparent appearance are agreeable to the eye. Thus while offering few difficulties to the sculptor, it was an ornament to the edifice in which it was placed. This alabaster cut into slabs, from eight to ten feet high, four to six wide, and about one foot thick, served as a kind of paneling to the walls of sun dried bricks. On the back of all the slabs, was carved an inscription recording the name, title, and genealogy of the royal founder of the edifice, and they were kept in their places and held together by iron, copper, or wooden cramps in the form of double dovetails, fitting into corresponding grooves in two adjoining slabs. The corners of the chambers were generally formed by one angular stone; and all the walls were either at right angles, or parallel to each other. Upon the slabs were sculptured the bas-reliefs and inscriptions.
At the principal entrances to the chambers were placed gigantic winged bulls and lions with human heads. The smaller doorways were guarded by colossal figures of divinities, or priests. There were no remains of doors or gates; but metal hinges have been discovered, and holes for bolts exist in many of the slabs. The priests of Babylon "made fast their temples with doors, with locks and bars, lest their gods be spoiled by robbers," 31 and the gates of brass of Babylon are continually mentioned by ancient authors. On all the slabs forming entrances, in the oldest palace of Nimroud, were marks of a black fluid, resembling blood, which appeared to have been daubed on the stone. I have not been able to ascertain the nature of this fluid; but its appearance can not fail to call to mind the Jewish ceremony, of placing the blood of the sacrifice on the lintel of the doorway. Under the pavement slabs, at the entrances, were deposited small figures of the gods, probably as a protection to the building. 32 Sometimes, as in the N.W. palace at Nimroud, tablets on which were inscribed the name and title of the king, with a short notice of his principal conquests, as a record of the time of the erection of the building, were embedded in the walls.
The upper part of the walls of the chambers, above the alabaster slabs, was built either of baked bricks, richly colored, or of sun-dried bricks covered by a thin coat of plaster, on which were painted figures and ornamental friezes. It is to these upper walls that the complete covering up of the building, and the consequent preservation of the bas-reliefs, may be attributed; for when once the edifice had been deserted they fell in, and the unbaked bricks, again becoming earth, encased the sculptured slabs. Many chambers at Nimroud were entirely constructed of sun-dried bricks, the walls having been painted with figures and ornaments.
The mode of roofing the palaces and lighting the chambers, many of which were in the very center of the building with no other inlet for light but the door, is one of the most difficult questions in Assyrian architecture. I am inclined, on the whole, to concur with Mr. Fergusson in thinking that light was admitted through galleries or open rows of low pilasters above the alabaster slabs, and that wooden columns were sometimes used to support the roof in the larger halls. 33 It is, however, remarkable that no remains whatever of columns have been discovered, nor are there any traces of them. Unless they were employed, the chambers exceeding a certain width must have been left open to the sky. There is no proof whatever of any of the rooms having been vaulted, although the Assyrians were well acquainted with the principle of the arch.
The chambers were paved with alabaster slabs, covered with inscriptions recording the name and genealogy of the king, and the chief events of his reign, or with baked bricks, or rather tiles, each also bearing a short inscription. The alabaster slabs were laid upon bitumen. The bricks or tiles were generally in two layers, one above the other, with sand between and beneath them probably to exclude damp. Between the lions and bulls forming the entrances, was usually one large inscribed or ornamented slab.
The drains discovered beneath almost every chamber in the older palace of Nimroud joined a large drain, probably running from under the great hall into the river, which originally flowed at the foot of the mound.
The interior of the Assyrian palaces must have been as magnificent as imposing. I have led the reader through their ruins, and he may judge of the impression their halls were calculated to make upon one who, in the days of old, entered for the first time the abode of the Assyrian kings. Passing through a portal guarded by colossal lions or bulls, he found himself surrounded by the sculptured records of the empire. Battles, sieges, triumphs, the exploits of the chase, and the ceremonies of religion, were portrayed on the walls, - sculptured in alabaster, and painted in gorgeous colors. Above the sculptures were painted other events - the king, attended by his eunuchs and warriors, receiving his prisoners, entering into alliances with distant monarchs, or performing holy rites. These pictures were inclosed in colored borders or friezes of elaborate and elegant design, in which were introduced the emblematic tree, winged bulls, and monstrous animals. At the upper end of the hall was the colossal figure of the king in adoration before the supreme deity, or receiving from his attendants the sacred cup. He was attended by warriors bearing his arms, and ministered to by winged priests or presiding divinities. His robes, and those of his followers, were adorned with groups of human figures, animals, and flowers.
The ceiling above him was gorgeously painted, or inlaid with ivory and precious woods. The beams were of cedar, and gold leaf and plates of gold and silver were probably used with profusion in the decorations. 34
These edifices, as it has been shown, were great national monuments, upon the walls of which were represented in sculpture, or recorded by inscriptions, the chronicles of the empire. He who entered them might thus read the history, and learn the glory and triumphs of the nation. They served, at the same time, to bring continually to the remembrance of those who assembled within them on festive occasions, or for the celebration of religious ceremonies, the deeds of their ancestors, and the power and majesty of their gods.
The exterior walls of these palaces were either cased with sculptured slabs or painted. On the outside of the principal palace of Babylon, assigned by tradition to Semiramis, were portrayed men and animals, and on the towers hunting scenes, in which were represented Semiramis herself on horseback, throwing a javelin at a panther, and Ninus slaying a lion with his lance. 35 The walls of Ecbatana, according to Herodotus, 36 were each painted of a different color; the outer (there were seven round the city) being white, the next black, the third purple, the fourth blue, the fifth orange, and the two inner having their battlements plated, one with silver and the other with gold. 37 Walls thus sculptured and painted must, in the clear atmosphere and brilliant sunshine of Assyria, have been peculiarly pleasing to the eye, and have had a beautiful appearance even from afar.
Were these magnificent mansions palaces or temples? or, while the king combined the character of a temporal ruler with that of a high priest or type of the religion of the people, did his residence unite the palace, the temple, and a national monument raised to perpetuate the triumphs and conquests of the nation? These are questions which can not yet be satisfactorily answered. We can only judge by analogy. A very superficial examination of the sculptures will prove the sacred character of the king. The priests or presiding deities (whichever the winged figures so frequently found on the Assyrian monuments may be) are represented as waiting upon, or ministering to, him; above his head are the emblem of the supreme deity, the winged figure within the circle, and the sun, moon, and planets. As in Egypt, he may have been regarded as the representative, on earth, of the deity, receiving his power directly from the gods, and being the organ of communication between them and his subjects. 38 The intimate connection between the public and private life of the Assyrians and their religion, is abundantly proved by the bas-reliefs. As among most Eastern nations, not only public and social duties appear to have been more or less influenced by religion, or to have been looked upon as typical, but all the acts of the king, whether in peace or war, were evidently connected with the national faith, and were believed to be under the special protection and superintendence of the deity. Hence the emblem of the supreme God is represented above his head in battle, during his triumphs, and when he celebrates the sacred ceremonies. The embroideries upon his robes, and the ornaments upon his weapons, have likewise mythic meanings. His contests with the lion and other wild animals denote not only his prowess and skill, but his superior strength and wisdom. The architectural decorations have the same religious and typical signification. All the edifices hitherto discovered in Assyria have precisely the same character; so that we have most probably the palace and temple combined; for in them the deeds of the king, and of the nation, are united with religious symbols, and with the statues of the gods.
We have no means of ascertaining the nature of the private dwellings of the Assyrians, nor of learning any particulars concerning their internal economy and arrangement. No such houses have been preserved either in Assyria Proper or Babylonia, their complete disappearance being attributable to the perishable materials of which they were constructed; for although the palace temples were of such extraordinary magnificence, the bulk of the people appear to have lodged, as in Egypt, and indeed in Greece and Rome, in very small and miserable dwellings, which, when once abandoned, soon fell to dust, leaving no trace behind.
Of the walls of the city, or rather of its principal quarters (for the entire city was not, I am convinced, surrounded by one consecutive wall), nothing now remains but the long lines of mounds inclosing the ruins of Nimroud, Khorsabad, and Kouyunjik. In some places the earth still conceals the basement of hewn stones, upon which rose the lofty structure of sun-dried brick, the wonder and admiration of the ancients. 39 The dimensions of the walls of Nineveh and Babylon, as given by Herodotus, Xenophon, and Diodorus Siculus, may fairly be considered fabulous; those of Nineveh being 100 feet high, wide enough for three chariots to pass abreast, and furnished with 1500 towers, each 200 feet in height, and those of Babylon nearly 300 feet high and 75 thick.
In the edifices of Assyria reeds and bitumen were not employed, as at Babylon, to cement the layers of bricks, although both materials are found in abundance in the country. 40 A tenacious clay, moistened and mixed with a little chopped straw, was used, as it still is in the neighborhood of Mosul, for mortar. With it were united the sun-dried bricks, baked bricks being rarely used in Assyria, and no such masses of them existing among the ruins of Nineveh as at Babylon. These simple materials have successfully resisted the ravages of time, and still mark the stupendous nature of the Assyrian edifices.
Although there is but little difference in the architecture of the various buildings explored in Assyria, the change which had taken place in the manners, religion, and dress of the inhabitants of the country between the foundation of the N. W. palace at Nimroud, and of the edifices at Khorsabad and Kouyunjik must be evident on a most cursory examination of the sculptures from those buildings. The difference, indeed, is so considerable and so radical that even several centuries must have elapsed between the erection of the palaces, or some fundamental change must have taken place in the people. The first appears to me the most probable conjecture. The fact of the S. W. palace at Nimroud being built of materials taken from the N. W. proves that the interval between their erection must have been very great. As in Egypt the more ancient monuments show the purest taste and the highest knowledge of art, and we have that phenomenon which is to be remarked in the history of all nations, ancient or modern, of a gradual decline of art, after a state of comparative perfection. In the later monuments of Nineveh, moreover, particularly in the ornaments, and in the small objects discovered, we find an Egyptian taste, unknown in the earlier remains. This would indicate a foreign influence which may have been the principal source of the change I have pointed out, and which may be traced either to conquest or to intimate family alliances.
By the middle of the month of June my labors in Assyria had drawn to a close. The funds assigned to the Trustees of the British Museum for the excavations had been expended, and further researches were not, for the present at least, contemplated. I prepared, therefore, to turn my steps homeward, after an absence of some years. The ruins of Nimroud had been again covered up, and its palaces were once more hidden from the eye. The sculptures taken from them had been safely removed to Busrah, and were awaiting their final transport to England. The inscriptions, which promise to instruct us in the history and civilization of one of the most ancient and illustrious nations of the earth, had been carefully copied. On looking back upon the few months that I had passed in Assyria, I could not but feel some satisfaction at the result of my labors. Scarcely a year before, with the exception of the ruins of Khorsabad, not one Assyrian monument was known. Almost sufficient materials had now been obtained to enable us to restore much of the lost history of the country, and to confirm the vague traditions of the learning and civilization of its people. It had often occurred to me during my labors, that the time of the discovery of these remains was so opportune, that it might be looked upon as something more than accidental. Had these palaces been by chance exposed to view some years before, no European could have protected them from complete destruction, or could have preserved a record of their existence. Had they been discovered a little later, it is highly probable that there would have been insurmountable objections to the removal of even any part of their contents. It was consequently just at the right moment that they were disinterred; and we have been fortunate enough to acquire the most convincing and lasting evidence of that magnificence, and power, which made Nineveh the wonder of the ancient world, and her fall the theme of the prophets, as the most signal instance of divine vengeance. Without the evidence that these monuments afford, we might almost have doubted that the great Nineveh ever existed, so completely "has she become a desolation and a waste."
Before my departure I was desirous of giving a last entertainment to my workmen, and to those who had kindly aided me in my labors. On the western side of Kouyunjik there is a small village, belonging, with the mound, to a former slave of a pashaw of the Abd-el-Jeleel family, who had received his liberty, and the land containing the ruins, as a reward for long and faithful services. This village was chosen for the festivities, and tents for the accommodation of my guests were pitched around it. Large platters filled with boiled rice, and divers inexplicable messes, only appreciated by Arabs, and those who have lived with them, - the chief components being garlic and sour milk - were placed before the various groups of men and women, who squatted in circles on the ground. Dances were then commenced, and were carried on through the greater part of the night, the Tiyari and the Arabs joining in them, or relieving each other by turns. The dancers were happy and enthusiastic, and kept up a constant shouting. The quiet Christian ladies of Mosul, who had scarcely before this occasion ventured beyond the walls of the town, gazed with wonder and delight on the scene; lamenting, no doubt, that the domestic arrangements of their husbands did not permit more frequent indulgence in such gayeties.
At the conclusion of the entertainment I spoke a few words to the workmen, inviting any who had been wronged, or ill-used, to come forward and receive such redress as it was in my power to accord, and expressing my satisfaction at the successful termination of our labors without a single accident. One Sheikh Khalaf, a very worthy man, who was usually the spokesman on such occasions, answered for his companions. They had lived, he said, under my shadow, and, God be praised, no one had cause to complain. Now that I was leaving, they should leave also, and seek the distant banks of the Khabour, where at least they would be far from the Turks, and be able to enjoy the little they had saved. All they wanted was each man a teskere, or note, to certify that he had been in my service. This would not only be some protection to them, but they would show my writing to their children, and would tell them of the days they had passed at Nimroud. Please God, I should return to the Jebours, and live in tents with them on their old pasture-grounds, where there were as many ruins as at Nimroud, plenty of plunder within reach, and gazelles, wild boars, and lions for the chase. After Sheikh Khalaf had concluded, the women advanced in a body and made a similar address. I gave a few presents to the principal workmen and their wives, and all were highly satisfied with their treatment.
A few days afterward, the preparations for my departure were complete. I paid my last visit to Essad Pashaw, called upon the principal people of the town, bid adieu to my friends, and on the 24th of June was ready to leave Mosul.
I was accompanied on my journey to Constantinople by Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, Ibrahim Agha, and the bairakdar, and by several members of the household of the late pashaw; who were ready, in return for their own food and that of their horses, to serve me on the road. We were joined by many other travelers, who had been waiting for an opportunity to travel to the north in company with a sufficiently strong party. The country was at this time very insecure. The Turkish troops had marched against Beder Khan Bey, who had openly declared his independence, and defied the authority of the sultan. The failure of the crops had brought parties of Arabs abroad, and scarcely a day passed without the plunder of a caravan and the murder of travelers. The pashaw sent a body of irregular horse to accompany me as far as the Turkish camp, which I wished to visit on my way. With this escort, and with my own party, all well armed and prepared to defend themselves, I had no cause to apprehend any accident.
Mr. and Mrs. Rassam, all the European residents, and many of the principal Christian gentlemen of Mosul, rode out with me to some distance from the town. On the opposite side of the river, at the foot of the bridge, were the ladies who had assembled to bid me farewell. Beyond them were the wives and daughters of my workmen, who clung to my horse, many of them shedding tears as they kissed my hand. The greater part of the Arabs insisted upon walking as far as Tel Kef with me. In this village supper had been prepared for the party. Old Gouriel, the kiayah, still rejoicing in his drunken leer, was there to receive us. We sat on the house-top till midnight. The horses were then loaded and saddled. I bid a last farewell to my Arabs, and started on the first stage of our long journey to Constantinople.
1 Various meanings have been assigned to this statement. Some suppose that young children are intended who would form about one fifth of the population, which would then have been about six hundred thousand. Others contend that this is a mere allusion to the general ignorance of the inhabitants.
2 The distance from Kouyunjik to Nimroud is about eighteen miles; that from Nimroud to Karamless about twelve, the opposite sides of the square the same; these measurements correspond accurately with the elongated quadrangle of Diodorus. Twenty miles is a day's journey in the East, and we have, therefore, exactly three days' journey for the circumference of the city. These coincidences are, at least, very remarkable. Within this space was fought the great battle between Heraclius and Rhazates (A D. 627). "The city, and even the ruins of the city, had long since disappeared, the vacant space afforded a spacious field for the operations of the two armies." - Gibbon's Decline and Fall, ch. xlvi.
3 We learn from the book of Esther that such was the custom among the early Persians, although the intercourse between the sexes was at that time much less circumscribed than after the spread of Mohammedanism, Ladies were even admitted to public banquets, and received strangers in their own apartments, while they resided habitually in dwellings separate from the men.
4 Diod. Sic. lib. ii. c. 9. Quint. Curt. v. cap. l.
5 Jonah 4:11.
6 This house appears to resemble the model of an Egyptian dwelling in the British Museum. (See also Sir Gardner Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptian, vol. ii., woodcuts 98 and 99.) From a bas-relief discovered in the center of the mound at Nimroud, it would appear that the upper part was sometimes of canvas.
7 It has already been mentioned that the winged lions of the N. W. palace at Nimroud were furnished with five legs, that the spectator, in whatever position he stood, might have a perfect front and side view of the animal.
8 A restored inscription is included in the collection printed for the Trustees of the British Museum.
9 The greater part of these small objects are in the British Museum.
10 Ch. A, plan 5.
11 Ch. B, plan 5.
12 "To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron." (Psalm 149:8) "They put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and took him to Babylon." (2 Kings 25:7) Samson was bound with fetters of brass. (Judges 16:21) In a bas-relief at Khorsabad, were represented captives as led before the king by rings of iron passed through the nose and lips, to which was attached a cord; thus illustrating the passage, "I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips."
13 Ch. G, plan 5
14 In the Khorsabad sculptures the ships are of different form to those described in the text. That they did not belong to the Assyrians, but to some allied or conquered nation, appears to be indicated by the peculiar costume of the figures in them. They are in the shape of a sea-monster, the head of a horse forming the prow, and the tail of a fish the stern The mast is supported by ropes, and is surmounted by a kind of stand, or what a seaman would call a crow's-nest, which in the Egyptian sculptures holds an archer.
15 Josephus, lib. ix. c. 14. The Tyrians having revolted, Shalmaneser attacked them with 60 vessels and 800 rowers, furnished by the inhabitants of other maritime cities. The Tyrians, however, defeated this large fleet and took 500 men prisoners. The Assyrians then invested the city for five years, cutting off the inhabitants from the rivers and wells which furnished them with fresh water.
16 The inscriptions recently brought by me from Kouyunjik completely confirm my conjectures as to the period of the Kouyunjik palace and as to its probable founder, who appears to have been Sennacherib. Colonel Rawlinson communicated the contents of one of these inscriptions to the Athenaeum of August 23, 1851.
17 The 27th chapter of Ezekiel contains a complete description of the vessels and trade of the Tyrian, and is a most important and interesting record of the commercial intercourse of the nations of antiquity.
18 Chap. 27:2.
19 See woodcut, facing p. 334.
20 Hall C, plan 5.
21 Xenophon frequently alludes to the expertness of the slingers of Assyria (see particularly Anab. lib. iii. c. 3). They used very large stones and could annoy the enemy, while out of reach of their darts and arrows.
22 2 Kings 10:8.
23 Entrance b, chamber C, plan 5.
24 Chambers D, E, and F, plan 5.
25 In the British Museum.
26 Chamber G, plan 5.
27 Chamber H, plan 5.
28 Genesis 10:11.
29 Xithurus and his followers: Berosus apud Euseb. The similarity between the history of this Chaldean hero, and that of the Noah of Scripture is very singular.
30 Such is the custom still existing among the inhabitants of Assyria. When some families of a nomad tribe wish to settle in a village, they choose an ancient mound; it being no longer necessary to form a new platform, for the old abound in the plains. On its summit they erect a rude castle and the huts are built at the foot. The same plan appears to have been followed since the Arab invasion, and perhaps long previous during the Persian occupation. There are few ancient mounds containing Assyrian ruins upon which castles, cities, or villages have not at some period been built. Such are Arbela, Tel Afer, Nebbi Yunus,
31 Epistle of Jeremy, Baruch, vi. 18.
32 It has already been mentioned, that these small figures in unbaked clay, were found beneath the pavement in all the entrances at Khorsabad. They were only discovered at Nimroud under the most recent palace, in the B. W. corner of the mound.
33 The subject is very fully treated and very ably illustrated in his work entitled "the Palaces of Nineveh and Persepolis restored," which contains, at the same time, many valuable suggestions on the arts and architecture of the Assyrians.
34 Sun-dried bricks with remains of gilding, were discovered at Nimroud. Herodotus states that the battlements of the innermost walls of the royal palace of Ecbatana the ornaments of which were most probably imitated from the edifices of Assyria, were plated with silver and gold (lib. i. c. 98). The precious metals appear to have been generally used in decorating the palaces of the East. Even the roofs of the palace at Ecbatana are said to have been covered with silver tiles. The gold, silver, ivory and precious woods in the ceilings of the palaces of Babylon attributed to Semiramis are frequently mentioned by ancient writers. Zephaniah (2:14) alludes to the "cedar work" of the roof, and in Jeremiah (22:14) chambers "ceiled with cedar and painted with vermilion" are mentioned. Sometimes the walls and ceilings were paneled or wainscoted with this precious wood. (1 Kings 6:15, 7: 3).
35 Diodorus Siculus, lib. ii.
36 Lib. i. c. 98.
37 Herod. lib. 1, c. 98. These colors, with the number seven of the walls, have evidently allusion to the heavenly bodies, and their courses.
38 Diodorus Siculus, lib. i. c. 90; and Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, vol. i. p. 245, and vol. ii. p. 67.
39 Such, according to Xenophon, were the walls of Larissa and Mespila, the plinth or lower part of the wall of which was 50 feet high, and the upper 100. The stone was full of shells. (Anab. lib 3.) His description agrees pretty accurately with the actual remains.
40 Bitumen was, however, sometimes used to unite stones, and even burnt bricks.