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.
Layard's visit, in 1840, to Syria, Asia Minor, Babylon and Assyria. Differences in the ruins described. Dangers in traveling through the area. Layard's visit to area made him desire to investigate the ruins, but circumstances hindered him for a few years. Work of French (M. Botta) at Kouyunjik. Attempts to get people interested in supporting excavation work. Botta discovers artifacts at Khorsabad, and the French government started to financially support the excavations. Botta confined his research to Khorsabad, finding many sculptures and inscriptions. Botta's work stimulated Layard, who finally received some financial support late in 1845, when he traveled to Mosul.
Layard visited the pashaw of Mosul, but concealed the purpose of his visit. Cruelties of pashaw and the state of the country. Layard traveled by raft to Nimroud. Arabs found for workmen. Initial discovery of a chamber and a few ivory objects. Layard revisited the pashaw, since the excavations were known, and many were suspecting Layard of a treasure hunt. Problems of residence during rains. Discovery of bas-reliefs, of chariots and a city siege. Pashaw stops the work, by claiming graves were disturbed. Layard found that the Pashaw had "created" graves on the mound. Layard continued work using a few "guards" who were protecting the excavations. As Christmas approached, Layard ordered the excavations filled in, and left Mosul to obtain a more permanent access to excavation. Pashaw was deposed.
With new pashaw, Layard was allowed to continue excavation in January. Much greater political stability. Spring look to country, return of Arabs in tents. Graves dug up and moved to bottom of hill. Sculptured slab found, damaged by fire. Trouble from cadi (claiming financial and religious issues) temporarily halt work. Layard visits Arabs living near Nimroud, to try to prevent them from stealing. Description of Arabs. Mid February, Layard resumed work with a few men in secret. More bas-reliefs found. Huge statue found, causing more political problems. Second statue found at other side of chamber entrance. Work forced to slow because of political pressure. 2 lion statues found. Description of country and people during Spring.
Excavation was halted by political pressure. Layard visits leading sheik (Sofuk) of the Arabs to gain his friendship and possibly cut down the number of Arab raids. Hospitality of Arabs met on the travels. Thorough consumption of food. Description of special Arabian horse. Initial greetings with Sofuk. Life and influence of Sofuk. Description of meal, and Sofuk's wives. Visit to the ruins of Al Hather Horse theft attempted regularly at night. A year later, Sofuk tricked and murdered a rival, and was likewise tricked and executed by the Pashaw.
Clearing chamber with human-headed lions. Small artifacts with cuneiform writing on them found. Layard hosted a visit from Christians and Arabs who wanted to see the ruins, creating much good will among the Arabs. Description of meal, dancing and sword play entertainment. New Turkish governor. Layard allowed to continue excavation, but his financial resources were very limited. Problems of excessive heat, dust storms, insects and reptiles. Descriptions of bas-reliefs. More sculpture and copper lions. Siege and lion hunting scenes found on bas-reliefs. Layard given vizirial authorization to excavate and remove finds to England. Excavations started at Kouyunjik, but stopped after a month because of little success. More descriptions of bas-reliefs at Nimroud. Problems removing items for museum. Visit by Pashaw. Excessive heat hindered and then stopped the work.
General description of Layard's travel to the mountains to avoid the summer heat: Started with visit to French excavations at Khorsabad. Descriptions of Yezidi and Kurd villages passed. Poverty and disease of people at Amadiyah (Ecbatana). A few artifacts found there. Descriptions of the country, and the hospitality of the people during further travel toward the Tiyari. Contrast of the richness of the land and the poverty of the people due to excessive governmental taxation. Layard rebuked the governor (Bey) with both his ill manners and his harsh control. Arrival at Asheetha.
Asheetha joyously welcomed Layard's company. Threat of invasion by Beder Khan Bey, who had previously slaughtered more than 10,000 and enslaved others. Layard decided to continue travel, to warn Christian communities of new threat. Layard saw effects of Khan's previous attack. Description of Asheetha's history and current state. Description of travels to various communities, with the contrast of the physical beauty of the area and the destruction by Khan. Layard visits scene of worst massacre, with unburied remains of 1000 people scattered over the ground. More villages visited, possible defensive plans considered. At Tkhoma the people were preparing for armed resistance to Khan. Discussion of the beliefs of the Nestorian Christians. Letter written to pashaw of Mosul for help against Khan. Layard met, and was threatened by Kurds, but kept going. Layard was talked out of visiting the last few communities, because of the threat of Nur-Ullah Bey, and his likely support of Beder Khan. Layard tricked Nur-Ullah, and left rapidly to returned to Asheetha. Continued travel towards Mosul. Possible Assyrian ruins found at Challek. Description of bas-reliefs cut into the hill at Malthaiyah, Attack of Tkhoma by Beder Khan Bey occurred days after Layard left the area. Description of new massacres, and the retaliation by the Turkish government.
Layard invited to annual feast of the Yedizis (Devil worshippers). History of oppression which the Yedizis suffered. Layard traveled with Yedizis to the tomb of Sheik Adi for the feast. Description of area, interaction between pilgrims and festivities. Special concert at night: started with a long solemn song, and ended with an extended period of fast, joyous music in which everyone joined in. Activities continued until dawn. Religious beliefs of Yedizis. Layard returned to Mosul, then accompanied the pashaw on a visit to the Yedizis at Sinjar. The Yedizis distrusted the pashaw because of previous persecution, and shot two soldiers sent with Layard to speak to them. The pashaw retaliated by burning the city but was unsuccessful in attacking the main group of the community hiding in caves. Layard left to return to excavations at Mosul.
Layard given some funding from British Museum. Preparations for more excavation. Bas-reliefs found and removed for shipment to England. Descriptions of scenes on the walls. Parts of iron armor discovered. Alabaster and glass vases found in good condition. Winged bulls discovered at entrance to building, with large bas-reliefs nearby. Black Obelisk (of Shalmaneser) found and described. Winged lions and bas-reliefs found and described. Sphinxes found, but they had been burnt and they crumbled when exposed. Inscriptions found with names of several kings in sequence, connecting finds in Nimroud with Khorsabad. A sarcophagus found, with items similar to Egyptian burials. Arab methods of irrigation. Layard settling domestic quarrels; status of women in Arab culture. Customs of Arabs. Layard arranges for rafts to move artifacts, and then recovers the materials after they were stolen by the Arabs. Artifacts shipped to England.
Excavations continue after Christmas, at NW palace. By April, 28 chambers had been discovered. Ivory ornaments and tablets found. Copper vessels found, but unable to be preserved. Pavement slabs with new names of Assyrian kings. Several tombs found, walled with brick; artifacts described. Ruins of a building found under the tombs. About 100 wall panel slabs found stacked up instead of on the walls. Discussion of how walled cities were attacked. Bas-reliefs showing the sack of a city. SW chambers found, but walls badly damaged by fire. Comparison between NW and SW palaces. More tombs found, with buildings under them. Discovery of possible furnace for glass or metal manufacture.
Layard decided to excavate at Kalah Sherghat. Passed bitumen pits. Initial statues found were badly defaced. Crumbled walls, tombs and small artifacts found, but no more statues in the initial dig (before Layard arrived). Arab customs when moving. Description of the desolation of the ruins. Layard divided the crew into several groups and made exploratory digs - tombs and fragments of Assyrian artifacts found. Description of how Tigris river is gradually destroying the mound. Layard left people to continue excavation, while he returned to Mosul. Arabs arguing throughout the night kept Layard awake. When the Arabs which accompanied Layard returned to their home, they were attacked. Because of lack of grass, the Arabs which camped near Kalah Sherghat left. Without their protection, the workmen were twice attacked by raiding parties, and Layard ordered the work stopped.
Lack of rain caused crop failure and start of a famine. Bedouins resort to plundering, making the excavation risky. Layard decided to move the larger statues before the summer, expecting more serious trouble. Layard constructs a large cart to move the heavy statues, which amazed the people. A huge trench "road" was needed to get the statues from the ruins to the cart, which resulted in some accidental discoveries. Discussion of skill of craftsmen in making bas-reliefs. Process of lowering the bull to rollers. Arabs discuss why England wants the statues, and how a man living far away could walk up to a mound and find a palace hidden for a thousand years. Celebration at the success of moving the bull. Problems getting to the river. The lion moved in similar fashion. Layard decided to use rafts to move the bull and lion. Difficulty finding natives to build what Layard wanted. Construction of rafts of wood and inflated animal skins. Lion and bull loaded successfully. Increasing attacks by Arabs on settlements. Workmen, fearing attacks, wanted to stop excavation. Layard ordered the trenches filled up. Layard describes what one would see if they walked through the dig, and how soon it would seem like a dream to someone looking at the mound.
Layard returned to Kouyunjik, since Nimroud was too dangerous. Speculation that Nimroud, Kouyunjik, Khorsabad and Karamless formed corners of the ancient city of Nineveh. Discussion of how to excavate an Assyrian city. Chambers found on SW corner of mound. The palace had been destroyed by fire, and the walls turned to lime. Comparisons of finds to those found at Khorsabad and Nimroud. Some small glass bottles and clay tablets found. Few inscriptions. Descriptions of bas-reliefs. Scenes of siege of a port city. Pictures of ships. Continued descriptions of war scenes on bas-reliefs, which was their primary if not sole subject. Discussion of the architecture of the Assyrians. Mud bricks used because of lack of stone. Discussion of use of alabaster and gypsum. Relationship between king and religion. Close of excavation due to lack of funds. Artifacts prepared for shipment to England. Entertainment given to workmen before Layard left. Preparations for leaving country.