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A History of Babylonians and Assyrians
1. IN the lofty table-land of Armenia, lying some seven thousand feet above sea level, and guarded on the south by mountain walls, the rivers Tigris and Euphrates have their origin. Breaking through the southern range, the one stream on its eastern, the other on its western flank, they flow at first speedily down a steep incline from an altitude of eleven hundred feet in a general southeasterly direction, draw closer to one another as they descend, and, after traversing a region measuring as the crow flies over eight hundred miles in length, issue as one stream into the Persian gulf. This region from the northern mountains to the southern sea, dominated and nourished by the two rivers, is the scene of the historical development to be traced in this volume. A striking difference in geological structure divides it into two parts of nearly equal length. For the first four hundred miles the country falls off from the mountains in a gentle slope. The difference in elevation between the northern and southern extremities aggregates about a thousand feet. A plain of "secondary formation" is thus made, composed of limestone and selenite, through which the rivers have cut their way. From this point to the gulf succeeds a flat alluvial district, the product of the deposit of the rivers, made up of sand, pebbles, clay, and loam, upon which the rivers have built their channels and over which they spread their waters in the season of inundation.
2. The former of these two divisions was called by the Greeks Mesopotamia, a term which they probably borrowed from the Semites, to whom the district, or at least a part of it, was known in Hebrew phrase as Aram naharayim, "Aram of the two rivers," or to the Arameans as Bêth naharîn, "region (house) of the rivers." Marked out by the rivers and the northern mountains into an irregular triangle, drifting out over the Euphrates into the desert on the southwest, and rising over the Tigris to the Zagros mountains on the east and northeast, this region occupies an area of more than fifty-five thousand square miles, in size about equal to the State of Illinois. Its physical contour and characteristics separate it into two fairly well-defined districts. In the northern and higher portion, isolated ranges, thrown off from the central chains, diversify the plain, which is watered by the mountain streams gathering into rivers of considerable size, like the Balikh and the Khabur. Limestone and, in some places, volcanic rock form the basis of a fertile soil. South and southeast of the Khabur the waters cease, gypsum and marl predominate, and the plain, down to the beginning of the alluvium, becomes a veritable steppe, the home of wandering Bedouin. The northern part, at least that west and north of the Khabur, was probably the region known to the Egyptians as Nahrina, and in the Roman period constituted the province of Mesopotamia. On the other hand, Xenophon seems to call the southern portion Arabia; the term is a striking evidence of the character of the district as steppe land, hardly to be distinguished from the western desert, and Occupied by the same wandering tribes.
3. The second and southern division of the great Tigro-Euphrates valley is entirely the gift of the rivers, a shifting delta, over which they pour themselves from the higher and solider formation of Mesopotamia. The proximity of the mountains in the northeast gives the whole plain a southwestern slope with the result that the Euphrates has spread Over a portion of the southwestern desert and thereby added a considerable district to the proper alluvial region. Moreover, the process of land-making still continues in the south, the waters of the gulf being pushed back at the rate of about seventy-two feet every year. At present, this division comprises about thirty thousand square miles, but calculations, based upon the increase of the land about the Persian gulf, make it appear that in the ancient period it contained only twenty-three thousand square miles. Thus it was about equal in area to the southern half of the State of Louisiana, which it also resembled in being largely made up of alluvial and swampy districts that are the deltas of river systems. It lay also between the same degrees of latitude (about 30-33° N.). This was the land known to the Greeks, from the name of its capital city, Babylon, as Babylonia. It is an "interminable moorland," slightly undulating in the central districts and falling away imperceptibly toward the south into swamps and marshes, where the waters of the rivers and the gulf meet and are indistinguishable. The plain also stretches away toward the east, as in Mesopotamia, beyond the Tigris for a distance of from thirty to fifty miles, until it meets the mountains; while, on the western side, across the Euphrates, it merges into the desert at a distance of twenty or thirty miles, where a line of low hills checks the river's overflow and gathers it into lakes and morasses.
4. In these regions of Mesopotamia and Babylonia, so diversified in physical characteristics, the one essential unifying element was the rivers. To them a large section of the land owed its existence; the fertility and the prosperity of the whole was dependent upon them; they were the chief means of communication, the main channels of trade, the distributors of civilization. It was in recognition of this that the ancient inhabitants called the Euphrates "the life of the land," and the Tigris "the bestower of blessing." Both are inundating rivers, nourished by mountain snows. Yet, though they lie so near together and finally become one, they exhibit many striking differences. The Euphrates is the longer. It rises on the northern side of the Taurus range and winds its way through the plateau in a southwesterly direction as though making for the Mediterranean which is only a hundred miles away. At about latitude 37° 30', it turns due south and breaks into the plain. It runs in this direction for a hundred miles, then bending around toward the east, finds at last its true southeastern course and, covering in all a distance of seventeen hundred and eighty miles, unites with the Tigris and the sea. Unlike most great rivers, its lower course is less full and majestic than its upper waters. In its passage through the Mesopotamian plain it receives but two tributaries, the Balikh and the Khabur, and these from the upper portion. Thereafter it makes its way alone between desert and steppe with waning power. From the mouth of the Khabur to the alluvium its width gradually diminishes from four hundred to two hundred and fifty yards; its velocity, from four to two and one half miles an hour. At the southern boundary of Mesopotamia it spreads out in canals and pools and swamps, some of its water reaching the Tigris; but it recovers its former greatness farther down, receiving in its turn contributions from its sister stream. The Tigris has its source on the southeastern slopes of the Taurus, and makes a much more direct and speedy journey to the sea. Its length is eleven hundred and forty-six miles; its depth, volume, and velocity much greater than those of the Euphrates. It receives numerous tributaries from the eastern mountains not far distant — in the north the Subnat, toward the middle of its course the upper and lower Zab, farther to the south the Turnat and the Radanu, — all streams of considerable size, which swell its waters as they descend The inundation of the Tigris begins earlier and is finished before that of the Euphrates. The latter, with its more northern source, rises more slowly and steadily, and its high waters continue longer. Accordingly, the whole inundation period, including that of both rivers, is spread over half the year, from March to September (Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies, L pp. 12 f.). The water sometimes rises very high. Loftus, in the spring of 1849, found that the Tigris had risen twenty-two and one half feet, which was about five feet above the ordinary height (Chaldæa and Susiana, P. 7).
5. In consequence of the pouring down of these immense volumes of water, the rivers have dug channels through the rock of the Mesopotamian plain. The Euphrates, in particular, flows through a canyon from two to three miles wide and sunk from one hundred to three hundred feet below the surface of the steppe. On the flats at the base of the cliffs, and on the islands in mid-stream, thick groves of tamarisk alternate with patches of arable land, where usually stand the few towns which the traveller finds in his journey along the river and which constitute the stations of his pilgrimage. Likewise, the streams running into the Tigris are said to burrow deep in the marl, forming ditches in the plateau, difficult to cross. In the alluvial region, on the other hand, the rivers raise themselves above the surrounding country, while hollowing out their beds, so that to-day the sides of the ancient canals rise like formidable ridges across the level plain and their dry beds form the most convenient roads for the caravans.
6. Mesopotamia and Babylonia, although lying between latitude 31° and 37°, do not show climatic conditions so widely diverse as might be expected. The year is divided into two seasons. From November to March the rains fall; then the drought ensues. The heat in summer is oppressive throughout the entire valley, and, when the frequent sand storms from Arabia are raging, is almost unbearable. The rainy season shows greater diversity of temperature. The northern plain, cut off from the mild airs of the Mediterranean by the western ranges, is exposed to the wintry blasts of the northern mountains. Snow and ice are not uncommon. In Babylonia, however, frost is rarely experienced. It is probable that, when the canals distributed the waters more generally over the surface of the country, the extremes of temperature were greatly reduced. Even in modern times, travellers in Babylonia speak of the remarkable dryness and regularity of the climate, the serenity of the sky and the transparency of the air, the wonderful starlight, soft and enveloping, and the coolness of the nights, even in the hot season.
7. The fertility of Babylonia was the wonder of the ancient world. The classical passage of Herodotus is still the best description: "This territory is of all that we know the best by far for producing grain; as to trees, it does not even attempt to bear them, either fig or vine or olive, but for producing grain it is so good that it returns as much as two hundred-fold for the average, and, when it bears at its best, it produces three hundred-fold. The blades of the wheat and barley there grow to be full four fingers broad; and from millet and sesame seed, how large a tree grows, I know myself, but shall not record, being well aware that even what has already been said relating to the crops produced has been enough to cause disbelief in those who have not visited Babylonia" (Herod., I. 193). This marvellous yield, however, was under the hand of man, who by a system of canals brought the water of the rivers over every foot of ground. Apart from that, the land, rich as was its soil, lay exposed to floods in the winter and to parching heat and desert sand in the summer. Thick masses of reeds, springing up in the water-courses, produced morasses. The absence of trees of any size was a serious defect. To man, also, is due the introduction of the date-palm, the fig, and the vine, the two former flourishing in splendid luxuriance along the banks of the Euphrates, the vine, indeed, cultivated so little as almost to warrant the statement of Herodotus just cited. As one advances northward upon the steppe, a treeless waste appears, stretching up to the Khabur, There are traces of former agricultural activity, but now all is barren, except in the trenches hollowed out by the great rivers. On the Euphrates side the palm has pushed northward, and groves of tamarisk and fields of grain are seen. The land east of the Tigris and that north of the Khabur, indeed, being watered, are productive. Traces of extensive forests have been found in some parts, and these regions still support an agricultural population of considerable size, by whom rice, millet, sesame, wheat, and barley are cultivated. Here, in the north, are grown a variety of small fruits, melons, peas, and cucumbers, as well as figs. Throughout the whole of Mesopotamia, indeed, the winter rains call forth a carpet of verdure "enlivened by flowers of every hue," but the heat of summer soon scorches the earth, and all cultures disappear where irrigation, natural or artificial, is not secured.
8. Over these Mesopotamian plains roamed the gazelle and the wild ass, while in the reed-thickets of the river banks the lion, the wild ox, and the wild boar were found. Once, too, the ostrich and the elephant were hunted in Mesopotamia. The rivers swarmed with fish, and in their swamps waterfowl abounded. To man is due the introduction of the domestic animals. The camel came with the Bedouin from the desert, as also his flocks of sheep and goats, The horse is the "animal from the east." The dog was likewise imported.
9. There was neither metal nor stone to be found in all the borders of Babylonia. Northern Mesopotamia was better supplied because of neighboring mountains. From them were procured limestone and basalt, marble and alabaster. Copper and lead were obtained from the same source, as well as iron. The waters of the steppe supplied salt. In both north and south a substance was found which made the region famous in the ancient world. This was bitumen. On the northern edge of the alluvium, at the modern town of Hit on the Euphrates, were the renowned bitumen springs. A recent traveller describes them as follows: "Directly behind the town are two springs within thirty feet of one another, from one of which flows hot water, black with bitumen, while the other discharges intermittently bitumen, or, after a rainstorm, bitumen and cold water. . . . Where rocks crop out in the plain about Hit, they are full of seams of bitumen" (Peters, Nippur, I. p. 160). The less known bitumen wells of the north are on the plain east of the Tigris at the modern Karduk.
10. The present condition of these lands illustrates their primitive aspects. The alluvial deposits, indeed, have steadily pushed back the waters of the gulf which once washed the shores of Mesopotamia, but the rivers still pour their turbid floods through the gypsum canyons and overspread the lowlands in times of inundation. Traces of human occupation and activity intensify the impression of the recurrence of nature's former supremacy. Canals have silted up and at their mouths, where the water gathers in the pools, luxuriant wild growths of reeds and rushes flourish in the slime. The sand swirls unhindered over the steppe and heaps up about the mounds where once cities stood. Lions lurk in the jungles, and wandering Arabs camp over the plains. Extremes of heat and cold alternately parch and freeze the ground. Fevers hang about the marshes, and the pestilence breeds in the lagoons. The Tigris and the Euphrates, now flowing between "avenues of ruins," sweep away dykes, once reared to curb the power of these mighty streams, tear down their banks, once lined with palaces, riot at their will through channels made by their own irresistible waters, and bring with them the deposits of the mountain sides to enrich the soil of their deltas. A country of still splendid possibilities, destined sometime again to be the highway of the nations, it is a speaking testimony to the power of man. Before his advent it was uninhabitable and wild. When he had subdued it and cultivated it, it was the garden of the earth, the seat and the symbol of Paradise,
11. The valley of the Tigris and Euphrates was anything but an isolated region. Unlike Egypt, it was open on almost every side. On the south, was the Persian gulf, along whose western shore lay the rich coasts of Oman, opening into southern Arabia, and beyond them, to the far southeast, India. To the east rose the massive and complex ranges of Zagros, over which led the passes up to the eastern plateau, and from whose heights the descent was easy, by pleasant stages of hill and plain, into the fertile Babylonian bottoms. Northward was the same mountain wall, behind which stretched out the high and diversified Armenian plateau, with its lakes and fertile valleys, opened up by the upper reaches of the Tigris and its tributaries. Westward the plain melted into the Arabian desert, except at the upper extremity, where the Euphrates swung around by the slopes of the Syrian hills, and thus made the highway into the regions watered by the moist wind of the Mediterranean, — into Syria and Palestine and to the islands of the sea.
12. Such was the theatre of the activities of the peoples who made the earliest history of mankind and about whom centred the life of the ancient East. The land was admirably fitted, nay, rather, predestined, by its physical characteristics and position to produce and foster such a history. A world in itself, it lay in close touch, in unavoidable contact, with the larger world on every side, upon whose destinies its inhabitants were to exercise so impressive and so permanent an influence.
13. THE kingdoms which in the regions just described flourished during the millenniums of the world's youth, while they left a deep impression upon the imagination of later ages, were cut off suddenly and by an alien race, at a time when interest in preserving the annals of the past by means of historical narrative had not yet been born among men. Their names appeared in the records of that Jewish people which, though conquered by them, had outlived its masters, or survived in traditions which magnified and distorted the achievements of kings who had flourished during some brief years of Babylonio-Assyrian history. Soon the centre of human progress passed from the Mesopotamian valley westward to the regions of southern Europe. Assyria and Babylonia were forgotten. Their cities, too, reared upon platforms of sun-dried bricks, and raised in solid masses of the same fragile material to no great height, had been ruined by fire and sword, and gradually melted away under the disintegrating forces of nature until they became huge and shapeless mounds of earth without anything to identify them as having been once the abodes of men. The impression made by these ruins has been strikingly described by Layard:
[The observer] is now at a loss to give any form to the rude heaps upon which he is gazing. Those of whose works they are the remains, unlike the Roman and the Greek, have left no visible traces of their civilization, or of their arts: their influence has long since passed away. The more he conjectures, the more vague the results appear. The scene around is worthy of the ruin he is contemplating; desolation meets desolation; a feeling of awe succeeds to wonder; for there is nothing to relieve the mind, to lead to hope, or to tell of what has gone by. These huge mounds of Assyria made a deeper impression upon me, gave rise to more serious thought and more earnest reflection, than the temples of Balbec or the theatres of Ionia (Nineveh and its Remains, I. p. 29).
14. It is not surprising, therefore, that men came to have only vague and often fantastic notions of these ancient empires, and that the very sites of their long famous capitals were lost. For fifteen hundred years Nineveh was but a name. Babylon came to be identified with Bagdad on the Tigris, or with the ruin-heap, not far distant, at Akerkuf. Here and there was a traveller, like the Jew, Benjamin of Tudela, Who in 1160 visited Mosul and beheld on the other side of the Tigris what he thought to be the site of Nineveh, and at a three days' journey from Bagdad found, near Hillah on the Euphrates, ruins identified by him with those of Babylon and of the tower of Babel. Both of these sites afterwards were proved to be the true locations of these cities. European geographers, even at the end of the sixteenth century, were in complete uncertainty on the subject. A century and a half passed before trustworthy scientific observations were made and the Preparatory Period (1750-1820 A. D.) of Babylonio-Assyrian investigation began.
15. In 1755 the French Academy of Inscriptions received a memoir which, based primarily on a report of the Carmelite, Emmanuel de St. Albert, gathered together the various lines of evidence to prove that the true site of Babylon was near the town of Hillah on the Euphrates, and that Birs Nimrud, on the opposite side of the river, was part of the same city. Ten years later, Carsten Niebuhr, a scholar, historian, and traveller, definitely identified the ruin-mounds opposite Mosul with the ancient Nineveh, and made further observations on the site of Babylon. He also called attention to an extensive mound, called Nimrud, some fifteen miles south of Nineveh. All these travellers, and others who followed them, noted the masses of brickwork cropping out above the ground, the immense fields of débris that covered the mounds, and the traces of strange characters found upon bricks and other objects that lay upon the surface. It could not but be evident that further progress in discovering the secrets of these cities lay, on the one hand, in going beneath the surface, in searching these mounds with the spade, and, on the other, in the study of the inscriptions With the purpose of deciphering their meaning. Both these activities henceforth Were pursued with vigor. The excavation of the cities of Babylonia and Assyria and the decipherment of their language form two brilliant pages in the scientific annals of the nineteenth century.
16. The pioneer in this new work of excavation was Claudius James Rich, who, while resident of the British East India Company in Bagdad, in 1811, visited and studied the ruins of Babylon, and, beginning in 1820, made similar investigations of the mounds of Nineveh. In these visits he made surveys, opened trenches, and prepared careful plans of the sites. He afterwards published his results in memoirs. The inscriptions, engraved gems, and other objects gathered by him in these researches were forwarded to England and deposited in the British Museum, forming at that time the most considerable collection of the kind in the world. Some years before, the British East India Company had ordered its representatives in Babylonia to gather and forward to England ancient Babylonian antiquities, and among the objects obtained was the now famous cylinder of Nebuchadrezzar II., known as the East India House inscription. Michaux, a French botanist, working in the vicinity of Ctesiphon a little before 1802, had chanced upon a marble object marked with strange signs and figures. It proved to be a fine "boundary stone" with an inscription of Mardukbaliddin I. Yet so inconsiderable were all these objects that Layard was justified in his statement, made about 1845, that four years before "a case scarcely three feet square inclosed all that remained, not only of the great city, Nineveh, but of Babylon itself!" (Nin. and its Rem., I. p. 17). Rich's results aroused wide-spread interest, not only in England, but in America. In 1849 Edward Robinson, referring to them, declared, "we can all remember the profound impression made upon the public mind, even by these cursory memorials of Nineveh and Babylon" (Preface to American ed. of Layard's Nin. and its Rem.). Twenty years were to pass before this interest was to issue in practical activity, years filled indeed with the work of scholars, seeking to solve the riddle of the language of the inscriptions, and particularly with the splendid labor of Sir Henry Rawlinson in copying and studying the Behistun inscriptions of Persia. During this time, however, the mounds of Mesopotamia were untouched.
17. In 1842, P. C. Botta was sent from France as consul to Mosul, and with his arrival begins a new period (1842-1854) which, by reason of the character both of the work and the workers, may be termed the Heroic Period of excavation. Botta began digging on the two great mounds of Nineveh, marked off by Rich, and called Nebiyunus and Kouyunjik. Failing of success here, in 1843, at the suggestion of a peasant, he removed to Khorsabad, a mound about four miles to the northeast, where his digging immediately resulted in the discovery of a series of buildings of great extent, adorned with wonderful sculptures, though in parts damaged by fire. The site proved to be Dur Sharrukin, a fortress, palace, and temple of Sargon, Assyria's greatest king. Botta and his successor, Victor Place, spent more than ten years in uncovering this palace and working upon other neighboring sites. The material was sent to Paris, and constitutes one of the chief treasures of the Louvre. In 1845, A. H. Layard, an English traveller and government official, familiar by many years of wandering in the Orient with the peoples and languages of Mesopotamia, was enabled, through the munificence of the English minister at Constantinople, to fulfil a long-cherished desire by beginning excavations in this region. He chose the mound of Nimrud, fifteen miles south of Nineveh. Here, within two years (1845-1847), he unearthed three palaces belonging, respectively, to Ashurnaçirpal, Shalmaneser II., and Esarhaddon, in one of which was found the famous black obelisk that contains the name of Jehu of Israel. The site itself was found to be the city of Kalkhi (Calah), made the capital of Assyria by Shalmaneser I. During the years 1849-1851 Layard devoted himself to the two mounds of Nineveh, and uncovered at Kouyunjik the palace of Sennacherib, and at Nebiyunus those of Adadnirari III,, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon. In the spring of 1852 his excavations, pursued at Kalah Sherghat, forty miles south of Nimrud, resulted in the identification of that mound as Assur, the earliest Assyrian capital, and the discovery of the cylinder inscription of Tiglathpileser I, Layard's work was continued from 1852 to 1854 by Hormuzd Rassam, his assistant, who opened the palace of Tiglathpileser I. at Assur and obtained two other copies of his cylinder inscription. At Nineveh he discovered in 1853, on the northern part of the mound Kouyunjik, the palace of Ashurbanipal, from one chamber of which he removed the famous library of over twenty thousand tablets. Nimrud yielded to him the Shamshi Adad monolith, and Nineveh, also, the two obelisks of Ashurnaçirpal. The larger part of the objects obtained by both Layard and Rassam was sent to the British Museum, and became the basis of its incomparable collection of Assyrian antiquities.
18. In Babylonia, during these years, the work done was considerable, but not so brilliant in results. Layard visited Babylonia in 1851, and experimented with diggings at Babylon and Niffer, the ancient Nippur, with little success. From 1849 to 1854, with the exception of a year spent at Susa, W, K. Loftus worked on the mounds of Senkereh and Warka, the latter of which he identified beyond doubt with Uruk, the former being the ancient Larsam. From both cities he obtained metal and clay ornaments, and some choice clay tablets, besides coffins illustrative of the ancient methods of burial. In 1854 J. E. Taylor excavated at the ruins of a temple at Mugheir which was found to be the city of Ur, and at Abu Shahrein, identified with Eridu, the southernmost and oldest city of Babylonia. The same year Sir Henry Rawlinson, directing diggings at Birs Nimrud near Babylon, opened up the great temple there, and obtained from its foundations some cylinder inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar II. A French expedition led by Fresnel and Oppert was occupied from 1852 to 1854 in and around Babylon, the results of which, while not rich in objects obtained, were of special value for Babylonian topography. With the year 1854 the excavations halted. The twelve years had been productive of results brilliant beyond all expectation. These had been gained in large measure by men who labored for the most part alone, having usually small sums of money available, hindered and harassed on every side by fever, famine, and flood, by attacks of Arabs, by the outbreaks of fanatical populations, and by the stolid obstinacy and arrant cupidity of Turkish officials, — obstacles which would have daunted less resolute and enthusiastic workers.
19. Another gap of two decades now intervened. The vast mass of material accumulated by the excavators had satiated the appetite. A new world of ancient life had, within a short space of twelve years, been thrown open to science, — a world speaking an unknown tongue and revealing a great, but strange, literature, architecture, and art. The demand was for the study of what was already in hand, not for the search after new things; for the organization and publication of the results of excavation, not for the further heaping up of what could not be understood. These decades saw the issue of the first three volumes of "The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia," edited for the British Museum by Sir Henry Rawlinson, — an indispensable companion for all future students. During the same period, also, the secret of the language was penetrated, and Assyrian documents were being read with increasing ease and accuracy.
20. In 1873 the revival of excavation began with the expedition of George Smith to Nineveh. His purpose illustrates the new point of view reached during the intervening decades. Among the clay tablets brought back by Rassam from Ashurbanipal's library, were fragments of the Babylonian story of the Deluge. These, as translated by George Smith, aroused immense interest, which led to the desire that search be made for the missing fragments. The explorers of the Heroic Period had uncovered palaces, bas-reliefs, and statues, but had given the insignificant tablets secondary consideration. From the library chamber of Ashurbanipal's palace Rassam had extracted only those tablets which could be conveniently reached. With the power to read attained mean while, the tablets had become fully as important as the sculptures, if not more so. George Smith's expedition indicated, therefore, that the Modern Scientific Period of excavation had begun. Its end is not yet in sight, since its goal is the investigation of all feasible localities in the Mesopotamian valley, with the purpose of throwing all available light upon the history and life of these ancient peoples. Another characteristic of this period is the careful selection of locations, and the studied organization of parties of excavators, well financed and provided with all desirable tools for investigation. The results have already been startling. George Smith's work, begun in 1873, was continued in 1874 and 1876. In that year, on his return from Nineveh, he died at Aleppo, a martyr to his self-sacrificing devotion to his task. He had obtained many more books from the Ashurbanipal library, including some of the precious Deluge fragments, and had purchased for the British Museum some valuable tablets from Babylonia. H. Rassam, the veteran of the earlier period, was sent out to take his place. From 1877 to 1882 he had great success. In Assyria his chief " finds " were the Ashurnaçirpal temple in Nimrud, the splendid cylinder of Ashurbanipal at Kouyunjik, and the unique and historically important bronze doors of the temple of Shalmaneser II., found at Balawat, fifteen miles east of Mosul. His work in Babylonia was equally brilliant. At Babylon, the problem of the location of the ancient buildings in the different mounds, a subject beset with extraordinary difficulties, was attacked by him, and he identified the famous Hanging Gardens with the mound known as Babil. A palace of Nebuchadrezzar II. at Birs Nimrud (Borsippa) was also uncovered by him. His excavations at Tell Ibrahim proved that it was the site of the ancient city of Kutha. An experimental examination of the mound at Abu Habba, in 1881, opened up to this fortunate excavator the famous temple of the sun at Sippar. There he found cylinders of Nabuna'id (Nabonidus), and the stone tablet of Nabu-apal-iddin of Babylon with its ritual bas-relief and inscription, besides some fifty thousand clay tablets containing the temple accounts.
21. Within recent years, beginning in 1877, a series of discoveries of first-rate importance has been made by the French consul at Bassorah, de Sarzec, in the Babylonian mound of Tello. He has identified this spot with the city of Shirpurla (Lagash), which had a prominent place in early Babylonian history. In the course of his several campaigns he has unearthed a truly bewildering variety of materials illustrative of these primitive ages. Palaces and statues, stelae and bas-reliefs, vases of silver, and a library containing as many as thirty thousand tablets, are among his treasures, which were purchased, or otherwise secured, by the French government for the Louvre Museum. Kings hitherto unknown, and a world of artistic achievement undreamed of for these early ages, have come into view. A similar result has followed the work of the American Expedition, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, which began, in 1888, to excavate at Niffer, the site of old Nippur, a centre of early Babylonian religious life. The massive temple called Ekur has been uncovered, on which kings of all periods of Babylonian history built. During each successive year of the expedition's activity, new architectural and artistic features, and an increasing number of historical and religious records, have come to light. More than thirty thousand tablets have already been obtained, and the recent discovery of the great temple library opens up a wealth of material throwing light upon all sides of that ancient life over which hitherto there has lain almost complete darkness. The Turkish government, stimulated by the example of other nations, has begun to take steps to collect material for its museum at Constantinople, to protect its antiquities from destruction and removal, and to make excavations upon Assyrian and Babylonian soil. Work at Sippar in 1893 has resulted in the securing of a number of clay tablets; an important stele of Nabuna'id has been found at Babylon, and a bas-relief of Naram Sin, obtained at the head-waters of the Tigris, has been conveyed to the museum at Constantinople. A German expedition, excavating on the site of Babylon, has already made some important discoveries. Thus the interest in seeking for the original records of Assyrian and Babylonian civilization was never more keen and active than at the present day. Joined, as this interest is, to large resources and a scientific temper, and enlightened by the experience of the past, it is destined to push the work of exploration and excavation in these countries to still further lengths, until, so far as lies in the power of the original records to furnish material, the history and life of these peoples become as well known as are those of Greece and Rome.
22. THE discoverers of the long-buried memorials of Assyria and Babylonia were at first and for a long time unable to read their message. But side by side with the work of the explorer and excavator went continually the investigations of the scholar. The objects sent back by European excavators and installed in museums immediately attracted the attention and enlisted the energetic activity of many students, who gave themselves to the task Of decipherment. Beginning with Georg Friedrich Grotefend, of Hannover, who, in 1815, published a translation of some brief inscriptions of the Achemænian kings of Persia, this scientific activity was immensely stimulated by the discoveries and investigations of Sir Henry Rawlinson, who, after more than fifteen years of study in the East, published, in 1851, his "Memoir on the Babylonian and Assyrian Inscriptions" containing the text, transliteration, and translation of the Babylonian part of the Behistun inscription, which records the triumph of Darius I. of Persia over his enemies. During the same period the brilliant French savant Jules Oppert, the Irish scholar Edward Hincks, and the Englishman Fox Talbot had been making their contributions to the new linguistic problem, In 1857 the accuracy and permanence of their results were established by a striking test. Copies of the inscription of Tiglathpileser I. of Assyria, recently unearthed, were placed in the hands of the four scholars, Rawlinson, Oppert, Hincks, and Fox Talbot, and they were requested to make, independently of one another, translations of the inscription in question. A comparison of these translations showed them to be substantially identical. A new language had been deciphered, and a new chapter of human history opened for investigation. Since that time these and other scholars, such as E. Schrader, Friedrich Delitzsch, Paul Haupt, A. H. Sayce, and many more in Europe and America have enlarged, corrected, and systematized the results attained, until now the stately science of Assyriology, or the organized knowledge of the language, literature, and history of Babylonia and Assyria, has a recognized place in the hierarchy of learning.
23. The Babylonio-Assyrian writing, as at first discovered in its classical forms, appears at a hasty glance like a wilderness of short lines running in every conceivable direction, each line at one end and sometimes at both ends, spreading out into a triangular mass, or wedge. From this likeness to a wedge is derived the designation, "wedge-shaped" or "cuneiform" (lat. cuneus), as applied to the characters and also to the language and literature. Closer examination reveals a system in this apparent disorder. The characters are arranged in columns usually running horizontally, and are read from left to right, the great majority of the wedges either standing upright or pointing toward the right. These wedges, arranged singly or in groups, stand either for complete ideas (called "ideograms," e. g. a single horizontal wedge represents the preposition in) or for syllables (e. g. a single horizontal crossed by a single vertical wedge represents the syllable bar). It would be natural that, in course of time, the wedges used as signs for ideas would also be used as syllables, and the same syllable be represented by different wedges, thus producing confusion. This was remedied by placing another character before the sign for a particular idea to determine its use in that sense (hence, called a "determinative;" e. g. before all names of gods a sign meaning "divine being") or, after it, a syllabic character which added the proper ending of the word to be employed there (hence, called "phonetic complement"). In spite of these devices, many signs and collocations of signs have so many possible syllabic values as to render exactness in the reading very difficult. There are about five hundred of these different signs used to represent wOrds or syllables. Their origin is still a subject of discussion among scholars. The prevailing theory is that they can be traced back to original pictures representing the ideas to be conveyed. But, at present, only about fifty out of the entire number of signs can be thus identified, and it may be necessary to accept other sources to account for the rest.
24. The material on which this writing appears is of various sorts. The characters were incised upon stone and metal, — on the marbles of palaces, on the fine hard surfaces of gems, on silver images and on plates of bronze. There are traces, also, of the use as writing material of skins, and of a substance resembling the papyrus of ancient Egypt. But that which surpassed all other materials for this purpose was clay, a fine quality of which was most abundant in Babylonia, whence the use spread all over the ancient oriental world. This clay was very carefully prepared, sometimes ground to an exceeding fineness, moistened, and moulded into various forms, ordinarily into a tablet whose average size is about six by two and one-half inches in superficial area by one inch in thickness, its sides curving slightly outwards. On the surface thus prepared the characters were impressed with a stylus, the writing often standing in columns, and carried over upon the back and sides of the tablet. The clay was frequently moulded into cones and barrel-shaped cylinders, having from six to ten sides on which writing could be inscribed. These tablets were then dried in the sun or baked in a furnace, — a process which rendered the writing practically indestructible, unless the tablet itself was shattered.
25. This prevailing use of clay was doubtless the cause of the disappearance of the picture-writing. The details of a picture could not easily be reproduced; circles gave way to straight lines joined together; these were gradually reduced in number; the line was enlarged at the end into the wedge, for greater distinctness, until the conventional form of the signs became established.
26. This method of writing by wedges was adopted from Babylonia by other peoples, such as those of ancient Armenia, for their own languages, just as German may be written in Latin letters. A problem of serious moment and great difficulty has arisen because of a similar use of the cuneiform in Babylonia itself. Side by side with cuneiform documents of the language represented in the bulk of the literature which has come down to us, and which may be called the Babylonio-Assyrian, there are some documents, also in cuneiform, in which the wedges do not have the meanings which are connected with them in the Babylonio-Assyrian. In some cases the same document is drawn up in two forms, written side by side, in which the way of reading the characters of one will not apply to those of the other, although the meaning of the document in both forms is the same. Evidently the cuneiform signs are here employed for two languages. What the philological relations of these languages may be, has given rise to a lively controversy. On the one hand, it is claimed that the two show marked philological similarities which carry them back to a common linguistic ground, and indicate that they are two modes of expressing one language, namely, the Semitic Babylonian. The one mode, the earlier, which stood in close relation to the primitive picture-writing, and may be called the "hieratic," was superseded in course of time by the other mode, which became the "common" or "demotic," and is represented in the great mass of Babylonio-Assyrian literature. The former had its origin in the transition from the ideographic to the phonetic mode of writing, — a transition which was accompanied with "the invention of a set of explanatory terms, mainly drawn from rare and unfamiliar and obsolete words expressed by the ideograms." It was later developed into an "artificial language" by the industry of priestly grammarians (McCurdy, History Prophecy and the Monuments, I. sects, 82 f.). On the other hand, the majority of scholars maintains that the earlier so-called "hieratic" is an independent and original language whose peculiar linguistic features point decidedly to a basis essentially different from that of the Semitic Babylonian. This language they regard as hailing from a pre-Semitic population of Babylonia, the "Sumerians," whose racial affinities are not yet satisfactorily determined. The Semitic Babylonians, coming in later, adopted from them the cuneiform writing for their own language, while permitting the older speech to continue its life for a season. Divergence of view so radical in regard to the same body of linguistic facts can have only one explanation, — the facts are not decisive and the fundamental questions must await final adjudication till a time when either new documents for philological investigation are discovered, or light is obtained from other than linguistic sources.
27. As the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates formed the common home of Babylonians and Assyrians, so the two peoples possessed a common language, and their literatures may be regarded as parts of one continuous development. Centuries before the name of Assyria appeared in history, the Babylonians possessed a written language and developed an ample literature. Both language and literature passed over to the later nation on the upper Tigris, and were cherished and continued there. Comparatively slight differences in the forms of the cuneiform signs, and a greater emphasis upon certain types of literature are all that distinguish the two peoples in these regards. Indeed, the kings of Nineveh filled their libraries in large part with copies of ancient Babylonian books, a practice which has secured to us some of the choicest specimens of Babylonian literature. In sketching their literatures, therefore, the typical forms are the same and serve as a basis for a common presentation.
28. Religion was the inspiration of the most important and the most ample division of the literature of Babylonia. Scarcely any side of the religious life is unrepresented. Worship has its collections of ritual books, ranging from magical and conjuration formulæ, the repetition of which by the proper priest exorcises the demons, delivers from sickness, and secures protection, to the prayers and hymns to the gods, often pathetic and beautiful in their expressions of penitence and praise. Mythology has been preserved in cycles which have an epic character, the chief of which is the so-called Epic of Gilgamesh, a hero whose exploits are narrated in twelve books, each corresponding to the appropriate zodiacal sign. The famous story of the Deluge has been incorporated into the eleventh book. Less extensive, but of a like character, are the stories of the Descent of Ishtar into Arallu, or Hades. Of the heroes Etana and Adapa, and the legends of the gods Dibbara (Girra) and Zu. The cosmogonic narratives are hardly to be separated from these, the best known of which is the so-called Creation Epic of which the fragments of six books have been recovered. The poetry of these epics is quite highly developed in respect to imagery and diction. Even metre has been shown to exist, at least in the poem of creation. Among the rest Of the religious texts may be mentioned fragments of "wisdom" and tables of omens for the guidance of rulers
29. If the Babylonians had a passion for religion, the Assyrians were devoted to history, and the bulk of their literature may be described as historical. The Babylonian priests, indeed, preserved lists of their kings; business documents were dated, and rulers left memorials of their doings. But the first two can hardly claim to be literature, and the royal texts, in fulness and exactness, are surpassed by those of the Assyrian kings. The series of Assyrian historical texts on the grand scale begins with the inscription of Tiglathpileser I. (about 1100 B. C.), written on an eight-sided clay cylinder, and containing eight hundred and nine lines. The inscription covers the first five years of a reign of at least fifteen years. It begins with a solemn invocation to the gods who have given the king the sovereignty. His titles are then recited, and a summary statement of his achievements given. Then, beginning with his first year, the king narrates his campaigns in detail in nearly five hundred lines. The description of his hunting exploits and his building of temples occupies the next two hundred lines. The document closes with a blessing for the one who in the future honors the king's achievements, and a curse for him who seeks to bring them to naught. This, for its day, admirable historical narrative formed a kind of model for all later royal inscriptions, many of which copy its arrangement and almost slavishly imitate its style. Its combination of summary statement with an attempt at chronological order, somewhat unskilfully made, is dissolved in the later inscriptions. They are of two sorts, either strictly annalistic, arranged according to the years of a king's reign, or a splendid catalogue of the royal exploits organized for impressiveness of effect, and hence often called "laudatory" texts. Examples of one or both forms have been left by all the great Assyrian kings. The most important among them are the inscriptions of Ashurnaçirpal, Shalmaneser II., Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal.
30. Closely connected with the historical documents is the diplomatic literature. An example of this is the so-called "Synchronistic History of Assyria and Babylonia," a memorandum of the dealings, diplomatic or otherwise, of the two nations with one another, from before 1450 B. C. down to 700 B. C., in regard to the disputed territory lying between them. To the same category belong royal proclamations, tribute lists, despatches, and an immense mass of letters from officials to the court, — correspondence between royal personages or between minor officials. Such correspondence begins with the reign of Khammurabi of Babylon (about 2275 B. C.), and is especially abundant under the great Assyrian kings from Sargon to Ashurbanipal. Not belonging to the epistolary literature of Assyria and Babylonia, but written in the cuneiform character, and containing letters from kings of Assyria and Babylonia as well as to them, is the famous Tel-el-Amarna correspondence, taken from the archives of Amenhotep IV. of Egypt, — in all some three hundred letters, — which throws a wonderful light upon the life of the world of Western Asia in the fifteenth century B. C. The numerous inscriptions describing the architectural activities of the kings belong here as well as to religious literature. Among the earliest inscriptions as well as the longest which have been discovered are the pious memorials of royal temple-builders. The inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar II. the Great deal almost entirely with his buildings.
31. The literature of law is very extensive. While no complete legal code for either Babylonia or Assyria has been discovered, some fragments of a very ancient document, containing what seem to be legal enactments, indicate that such codes were not unknown, Records of judicial decisions, of business contracts, and similar documents which are drawn up with lawyer-like precision, attested by witnesses and afterwards deposited in the state archives, come from almost all periods of the history of these peoples, and testify to their highly developed sense of justice and their love of exact legal formalities.
32. Science and religion were most closely related in oriental antiquity, and it is difficult to draw the line between their literatures. Studies of the heavens and the earth were zealously made by Babylonian priests, in the practical search after the character and will of the gods, who were thought to have their seats in these regions. In their investigations, however, the priests came upon many important facts of astronomy and physical science. These materials were collected into large works, of which some modern scholars have believed an example to exist in the so-called "Illumination of Bel," which, in seventy-two books, may go back to an age before 2000 B. C. Other similar collections are geographical lists, rudimentary maps, catalogues of animals, plants, and minerals. The ritual calendars which were carefully compiled for the priests and temple worshippers illustrate the beginnings of a scientific division of time. Education is represented also in grammatical and lexicographical works, as well as in the school books and reading exercises prepared for the training-schools of the scribes.
33. Of works in lighter vein but few examples have been found. The epics indeed may be classed as poetry, and served equally the purposes of religious edification and entertainment. Besides these, fragments of folk songs have been found. Folk tales are represented by some remains of fables. Popular legends gathered about the famous kings of the early age; an example of which is the autobiographical fragment attributed to Sargon I. of Agade, In comparison, however, with the tales which adorn the literature of ancient Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia were singularly barren in light literature.
34. The word "literature" in the preceding paragraphs has been used with what may seem an unwarranted latitude of meaning. Neither in content, nor in form, nor in purpose could much of the writing described be strictly included in that term. But, in the study of the ancient world, every scrap of written evidence is precious to the historian, and these crude attempts are the beginnings, both in form and in thought, of true literary achievement. The form of literature was fundamentally limited by the material on which books were written. It demands simple sentences, brief and unadorned, — what might be called the lapidary style. Imitation and repetition are also characteristic. The royal inscriptions have a stereotyped order. In religious hymns and prayers, epithets of gods and forms of address tend constantly to reappear from age to age with wearisome monotony. Lack of true imaginative power, and, at the same time, a realistic sense for facts show themselves; the one in the grotesqueness of the poetical imagery, the other in the blunt straightforward statements of the historical inscriptions. Yet even in the earliest poetical composition, the principle of "parallelism," or the balancing of expressions in corresponding lines, was employed, a device which, supplying the place of rhyme, became so powerful a means of expression in the mouth of the Hebrew prophet. A progress in ease and force of utterance is traceable also in the royal inscriptions, if one compares that of Tiglathpileser I. with those of Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal. Babylonia and Assyria, indeed, in this sphere as in so many others, were great not so much in what they actually wrought as in the example they gave and the influences they set in motion. They planted the seeds which matured after they themselves had passed away.
35. AN essential condition for adequate knowledge of an ancient people is the possession of a continuous historical tradition in the form of oral or written records. This, however, in spite of the mass of contemporaneous documents of almost every sort, which the spade of the excavator has unearthed and the skill of the scholar deciphered, is not available for scientific study of Babylonian or Assyrian antiquity. From the far-off morning of the beginnings of the two peoples to their fall, no historians appeared to gather up the memorials of their past, to narrate and preserve the annals of these empires, to hand down their achievements to later days. Consequently, where contemporaneous records fail, huge gaps occur in the course of historical development, to be bridged over only partially by the combination of a few facts with more or less ingenious inferences or conjectures. Sometimes what has been preserved from a particular age reveals clearly enough the artistic or religious elements of its life, but offers only vague hints of its political activity and progress. The true perspective of the several periods is sometimes lost, as when really critical epochs in the history of these peoples are dwarfed and distorted by a lack of sources of knowledge, while others, less significant, but plentifully stocked with a variety of available material, bulk large and assume an altogether unwarranted prominence.
36. What the Babylonians and Assyrians failed to do in supplying a continuous historical record was not accomplished for them by the later historians of antiquity. Herodotus, in the first book of his "Histories," devotes twenty-three chapters to Babylonian affairs (Bk. I. 178-200), and refers to an Assyrian history in which he will write more at length of these events (I. 184). But the latter, if written, has been utterly lost, and the chapters just mentioned, while containing information of value, especially that which he himself collected on the ground, or drew from an earlier traveller, presumably Hecatæus of Miletus, give distorted and fantastic legends where sober history might be expected. Ctesias of Cnidos, physician at the court of Artaxerxes Mnemon (415398 B. C.), who seems to have had access to some useful Assyrian material from Persian sources, introduced his Persian History with an account of Babylonio-Assyrian affairs, in which the same semi-mythical tales were interspersed with dry lists of kings in so hopeless a jumble of truth and falsehood as to reconcile us to the disappointment of having only a few fragments of it.
37. It is, however, a cause of keen regret that the three books of Babylonian or Chaldean History, by Berosus, have come down from the past only in scanty excerpts of later historians. Berosus was a Babylonian priest of the god Bel, and wrote his work for the Macedonian ruler of Babylonia, Antiochus Soter, about 280 B. C. As the cuneiform writing was still employed, he must have been able to use the original documents, and could have supplied just the needed data for our knowledge. Still, the passages preserved indicate that he had no proper conception of his task, since he filled a large part of his book with mythical stories of creation and incredible tales of primitive history, with its prediluvian dynasties of hundreds of thousands of years. A postdiluvian dynasty of thirty-four thousand ninety-one years prepares the way for five dynasties, reaching to Nabonassar, king of Babylon (747 B. C.), from whose time the course of events seems to have been told in greater detail down to the writer's own days. Imperfect and crude as this work must have been, it was by far the most trustworthy and important compendious account of Babylonio-Assyrian history furnished by any ancient author, and for that reason would, even to-day, be highly valued. A still more useful contribution to the chronological framework of history was made by Ptolemy, a geographer and astronomer of the time of the Roman Emperor, Antoninus Pius. Ptolemy's "Canon of Kings," compiled for astronomical purposes, starts with the same Nabonassar at whose time Berosus begins to expand his history, and continues with the names and regnal years of the Babylonian kings to the fall of Babylon. Since Ptolemy proceeds with the list through the Persian, Macedonian, and Roman regnal lines in continuous succession, and connects the era of Nabonassar with those of Philip Arridæus and Augustus, a synchronism with dates of the Christian era is established, by which the reign of Nabonassar can be fixed at 747-733 B. C. and the reigns of his successors similarly stated in terms of our chronology. By this means, not only is a chronological basis of special value laid for this later age of Babylonian history, but a starting-point is given for working backward into the earlier periods, provided that adequate data can be secured from other sources.
38. Happily for historical science, the original documents of Babylonia and Assyria are unexpectedly rich in material available for this purpose. As already stated (sect. 29), the Assyrians were remarkably gifted with the historic sense, and not only do their royal annals and other similar documents contain many and exact chronological statements, but there was in vogue in the royal court a practical system which went far toward compensating for the lack of an era according to which the dates of events might be definitely fixed. From the royal officers one was appointed each year to give his name to the year. He or his official status during that period was called limu, and events or documents were dated by his name. The king usually acted as limu for the first full year of his reign. He was followed in succession by the Turtan, or commander-in-chief, the Grand Vizier, the Chief Musician, the Chief Eunuch, and the governors of the several provinces or cities. Lists of these limi were preserved in the royal archives, forming a fixed standard of the greatest practical value for the checking off of events or the dating of documents, While this system was in use in Assyria as early as the fourteenth century, the lists which have been discovered are of much later date and of varying length, the longest extending from 893 B. C. to about 650 B. C. Sometimes to the mere name of the limu was added a brief remark as to some event of his year. Such a reference to an eclipse of the sun occurring in the limu of Pur-Sagali in the reign of Ashurdan III., has been calculated to have taken place on the fifteenth of June, 763 B. C., a fact which at once fixes the dates for the whole list and enables its data to be compared with those derived from the synchronisms of the canon of Ptolemy and other sources, The result confirms the accuracy of the Assyrian document, and affords a trustworthy chronological basis for fully three centuries of Assyrian history. For the earlier period before 900 B. C. the ground is more uncertain, but the genealogical and chronological statements of the royal inscriptions, coupled with references to contemporaneous Babylonian kings whose dates are calculable from native sources, supply a foundation which, if lacking in some parts, is yet capable of supporting the structure of historical development.
39. The Babylonians, while they possessed nothing like the well wrought out limu system of Assyria, and dated events by the regnal years of their kings, had in their kings' lists, compiled by the priests and preserved in the temples, documents of much value for historical purposes. The "Great List," which has been preserved, arranges the names in dynasties, and gives the regnal years of each king. At the end of each dynasty, the number of the kings and the sum of their regnal years are added. Though badly broken in parts, this list extends over a millennium, and contains legible names of at least seventy kings arranged in about nine dynasties. As the last division contains names of rulers appearing in the Assyrian and Ptolemaic canon, the starting-point is given for a chronological organization of the Babylonian kings, which unfortunately can be only approximately achieved, owing to the gaps in the list. The two other lists now available cover the first two dynasties only of the great list. Not only do they differ in some respects from one another, but they do not help in furnishing the missing names in the great list. These can be tentatively supplied from inscriptions of kings not mentioned on the lists, and presumably belonging to periods in which the gaps occur. Using all the means at their disposal, scholars have generally agreed in placing the beginning of the first dynasty of Babylon somewhat later than 2500 B. C.
40. For the chronology of Babylonian history before that time, the sources are exceedingly meagre, and all results, depending as they do upon calculation and inference from uncertain data, must be regarded as precarious. Numerous royal inscriptions exist, but connections between the kings mentioned are not easy to establish, and paleographic evidence, which must be invoked to determine the relative age of the documents, yields often ambiguous responses. A fixed point, indeed, in this chaos seems to be offered in a statement made by Nabuna'id, a king of the New Babylonian Empire. In searching for the foundations of the sun temple at Sippar, he came, to use his own words, upon "the foundation-stone of Naram Sin, which no king before me had found for 3200 years." As the date of the discovery is fixed at about 550 B. c., Naram Sin, king of Agade, whose name and inscriptions are known, may be placed at about 3750 B. C., and his father, Sargon, at about 3800 B. c. While much questioning has naturally been raised concerning the accuracy and trustworthiness of this date thus obtained, no valid reasons for discarding it have been presented. It affords a convenient and useful point from which to reckon backward and forward in the uncertain periods from the third to the fifth millennium B. C. By all these aids, to which are added some genealogical statements in the inscriptions, a series of dynasties has been worked out for this early age, and their chronological relations to one another tentatively determined.
41. It is possible, therefore, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, to determine chronologically not only the great turning points in Babylonio-Assyrian history, but even the majority of the dynasties and the reigns of the several kings. Founded upon this, the historical structure may be reared, and its various stages and their relations determined. A bird's-eye view of these will facilitate further progress. First in order of time comes the Rise and Development of the City-States of Old Babylonia to their unification in the City-State of Babylon. In the dawn of history different primitive centres of population in the lower Tigro-Euphrates valley appeared, attained a vigorous and expanding life, came into contact one with another, and successively secured a limited supremacy, only to give place to others. The process was already in full course by 5000 B. C. By the middle of the third millennium, the city of Babylon pushed forward under a new dynasty; one of its kings succeeded in driving out the Elamites, who had invaded and were occupying the southern and central districts; the victory was followed by the city's supremacy, which was not only more widely extended, but, by the wisdom of its kings, was more deeply rooted, and was thus made permanent. With Babylonia united under Babylon, the first epoch closed about 2000 B. C.
42. The second period covers the Early Conflicts of Babylonia and Assyria. The peaceful course of united Babylonia was interrupted by the entrance of the Kassites from the east, who succeeded in seating a dynasty of Kassite kings upon the throne of Babylonia, and maintaining them there for nearly six hundred years, But this foreign intrusion and dominance had roused into independent life a Semitic community which had its centre at Assur on the central Tigris, and in all probability was an offshoot from Babylonia. This centre of active political life developed steadily toward the north and west, but was dominated chiefly by its hostility toward Babylonia under Kassite rule. Having become the kingdom of Assyria, it warred with the southern kingdom, the advantage on the whole remaining with the Assyrian until, toward the close of the epoch, a great ruler appeared in the north, Tiglathpileser I., under whom Assyria advanced to the first place in the Tigro-Euphrates valley; while Babylonia, its Kassite rulers yielding to a native dynasty, fell into political insignificance, The forces that controlled the age had run their course by 1000 B. C.
43. The third period is characterized by the Ascendancy of Assyria. The promise of pre-eminence given in Tiglathpileser I, was not fulfilled for two centuries, owing to the flooding of the upper Mesopotamian plain with Aramean nomads from the Arabian steppes. At last, as the ninth century began, Ashurnaçirpal led the way in an onward movement of Assyria which culminated in the extension of the kingdom over the entire region of western Asia, Shalmaneser II., Tiglathpileser III., and Sargon, great generals and administrators, turned a kingdom into an empire. The first wore out the resistance of the Syrian states, the second added Babylonia to the Assyrian Empire, and the third, as conqueror of the north, ruled from the Persian gulf to the border of Egypt and the upper sea of Ararat. The rulers that followed compelled Egypt to bow, and reduced Elam to subjection, but at the expense of the vital powers of the state. New peoples appeared upon the eastern border, revolt deprived the empire of its provinces, until, in less than two decades after the death of the brilliant monarch Ashurbanipal, Nineveh, Assyria's capital, was destroyed, and the empire disappeared suddenly and forever. Four centuries were occupied with this splendid history and its tragical catastrophe. The age closed with the passing of the seventh century (600 B. C.).
44. Of the partners in the overthrow of Assyria, the rebellious governor of the province of Babylonia received as 'his share of the spoil the Tigro-Euphrates valley and the Mediterranean provinces. He founded here the Hew Babylonian Empire. Its brief career of less than a century concluded the history of these peoples. Under his son, the famous Nebuchadrezzar II., the empire was consolidated, its resources enlarged, its power displayed. His feeble successors, however, were beset with manifold difficulties, chief of which was the rising energy of the Medes and Persians who had shared in the booty Of Assyria. United under the genius of Cyrus, they pushed westward and northward, until the hour came for advancing on Babylon. The hollow shell of the empire was speedily crushed, and the Semitic peoples, whose rulers had dominated this world of western Asia for more than four millenniums, yielded the sceptre in 538 B. C. to Cyrus the Persian.