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A RT. III.-1. Découvertes en Chaldée. Par Ernest de Sarsec,
3. Records of the Past. Edited by Professor Sayce. New Series, vols. 1 and 2. London, 1888–1889. 4. Geschichte Babyloniens und Assyriens. Von Dr. Fritz
Hommel. Berlin, 1885.
F the world is too busy to devote much thought to sentiment, there are few even among its busiest people who do not find it a relief and a delight to wander away sometimes into the fairyland of history and to try and pierce the dark clouds behind which are hidden the origin, the earlier struggles, and perhaps the purpose of our race. Fresh facts in such a field naturally accumulate slowly. This makes it important to note them as soon as may be. A short time ago we gave an account of a wonderful correspondence between the kings of Egypt and the rulers of Babylonia and Syria in the second millennium before Christ which had been discovered at Tel-el-Amarna in Egypt. We now purpose describing some recent discoveries of interest which have been made by the French in Lower Babylonia, a field of exploration once almost exclusively our own. We must begin by congratulating M. de Sarsec not only on his good fortune in making the discoveries, but on having enlisted so competent an ally as M. Heuzey in their publication in a work marked by every excellence, both in its text and illustrations. First as to the locality where these discoveries were made. At one time it would appear that the main branch of the Tigris, instead of flowing down by its present stately channel the Shatt-al-Arab, turned aside at Kut Amara, and followed the course of the now shrunken Shatt-al-Hai (i.e. the Canal of the Serpent, so called from its meandering course), which falls into the Euphrates about ninety miles above Kurnah. It is along this old branch, and not along the Lower Tigris, that the mounds and ruins of many old cities are strewn. On the east of the Shatt-el-Hai, and at a distance of an hour and a quarter's journey from it, there is a large straggling cluster of mounds about * mile in circumference. The natives call it Tell Loh, meaning ‘the mound of the written tablet.’ It was partially explored by Mr. Rassam some years ago, and a few objects from it went to the British Museum; but it has only been thoroughly examlil
examined by M. de Sarsec. Let us now try and realize the
other by the mountains of Kurdistan and Khuzistan.
called the ass of the East, or the camel, was used by the inhabitants, who were, however, rich in asses, oxen, and sheep. Turning to the inhabitants, we are at once face to face with many polemics. Some facts, however, seem plain enough. As they are figured for us on the monuments, they have very pronounced aquiline noses, so pronounced that the hook of the nose forms an almost continuous line with the forehead; projecting but not slanting eyes, and fleshy cheeks. They seem to have completely shaved their faces and heads. As delineated on the monuments, they greatly resemble the figures recently found at Palestrina. Their language differed very materially from the later language of Babylonia and Assyria, which was a Semitic tongue closely allied to that of the Jews. We have numerous syllabaries and dictionaries, in which its words are explained by the corresponding Semitic words in Assyrian. There can be no doubt whatever that in grammar and in vocabulary this language was very closely akin to those spoken by the Turks In addition, it seems to contain a considerable is
and Mongols. *. foreign element allied to the ancient Sabaean, which was once so the language of the people of the South of Arabia, and pro- o
bably of the borders of the Persian Gulf, and is sometimes referred to as Cushite. This mixture in the language will | * perhaps enable us to explain how a hook-nosed, straight-eyed • *, ople, as different as can be in appearance from the Tartar races, should be found speaking a language so largely Tartar in structure. It would seem that the primitive race was in fact of Cushite in blood, and was conquered by a Tartar people who | largely imposed its speech upon it. It is perhaps a confirma: tion of this that, while on the monuments these early men are ls represented with bare heads and faces, their gods and heroes
are always figured with long hair and bushy beards. This o, seems to show that they were originally and naturally, like the *', Assyrians, a hairy race, and that they adopted in later times the to fashion of completely shaving their hair and beards. It seems | *
probable that, like the compulsory shaving and adoption of pigtails by the Chinese, this change was forced upon them by * their conquerors, who also compelled them to shave their heads | }} and faces so as to assimilate them as much as possible to them. o selves. At what time this conquest and assimilation took place * we have no means of knowing, but it was doubtless at a vers is early date. Nor is it possible to trace how far up the country this race extended ; but inasmuch as the names Ninua or **
Nineveh, Asshur, Khabur, and Harran are all explainable by * their
their language, it would seem that they once had settlements in the greater part of Mesopotamia. It is convenient to refer to this early people as the Chaldees, and to their country as Chaldea. It was from one of their towns, which is called Ur of the Chaldees in the Bible, that Abraham is thought by some to have come. The Chaldees were in early tradition the inventors of many of the arts. They were a settled and civilized community living in towns. There are reasons for thinking that they brought their culture with them when they first settled in Babylonia, and that it was not home-grown there. What adds probability to this view is that the Babylonian plain furnishes few or none of the necessary weapons of civilization. Its soil contains no metals, nor even stone. Dig where you will, say MM. Chipiez and Perrot, in the country from Baghdad to the sea, you will not find a stone larger than a nut. Nor, again, does the country produce any wood except that of palm-trees. Nor do the fruits generally associated with the beginnings of human culture grow there naturally, such as the vine, the olive, the pomegranate, and the fig. All these things had to be imported, and point to the early Chaldeans having been a prosperous race of traders and merchants before they planted themselves in Lower Babylonia. We can only catch glimpses which enable us to judge of the enterprise of these early traders. There are reasons for believing that they had a trade with India. The humped cattle of Babylonia perhaps came from there; a piece of teak is said to have been found among the ruins of Mugheir, the ancient Ur (Taylor, “Journ. Roy. As. Soc.’ xv. 264); while, as Mr. Sayce points out, there occurs in an early Babylonian list of clothing a stuff called sindhu, or muslin, the sadin of the Old Testament. Thence also probably came much of the ivory, so profusely used in early times. On the other hand, we read continually of the ships which journeyed to Nituk or Dilmun, to Magan, and to Milukhkha. Dilmun was the island in the Persian Gulf now called Bahrein, and corresponded to the Island of Gothland in the Baltic in the Middle Ages as a great entrepôt of trade. The situation of Magan has been much discussed, and latterly it has been argued that it corresponded with the Peninsula of Sinai, and Midian with its capital Makna. Dr. Glaser, however, identifies it with the land of Ophir of the Bible, which was situated on the Arabian coast, about the mouth of the Persian Gulf. He finds an echo of the name Magan in the Magon Kolpos, the Magendata of Ptolemy, and the Maka of the inscriptions of Darius. The ancient Magan was apparently replaced as a great trading port by Gerrha, described by Strabo Strabo as a Chaldean port on the Arabian coast of the Persian Gulf, which was the great centre of Arabian trade, whence salt, myrrh, and other aromatics were derived. Magan is depicted as a hilly country, producing the dark-green diorite, from which the early Chaldean statues were carved, and also different kinds of hard wood; while the papyrus plant, the siph of the Hebrews, was called the reed of Magan. Pāmsāph is the Old Testament name for the Gulf of Akabah. Magan is also called the Land of Bronze or perhaps of Copper. Milukhkha, which is described as the land of turquoise and as rich in gold, was probably, as Dr. Glaser argues, a part of the Havilah of the Bible, famous for its gold, bdellium, and soham stone. It may, perhaps, be identified with the district of Yemama and El Kasim in Central and North-east Arabia. Prof. Sayce makes it adjoin Egypt on the north, and identifies it with the so-called ‘Salt Desert.” While the Chaldean ships voyaged therefore far and wide in the Indian Ocean, and doubtless were to be found wherever the seafaring enterprise of the Chaldees had reached, they also had a river trade which brought down on the great rafts (the ancestors of the “kileks’ of our own day, which are mentioned by Herodotus) into their country the fruits of the higher lands, and notably the cedar, cypress, and pine wood, so necessary for their buildings, from the mountains of Lebanon and AntiLebanon, and from the various continuations of the Taurus range. Thence and from the mountains of Elam they were doubtless supplied with various marbles, with alabaster and limestone, with skins, wool, and other commodities. Perhaps the most important art of the early Babylonians was their system of writing. It was originally, no doubt, a form of picture-writing, and represented pictures of actual objects. These pictures were presently generalized into what are known as ideograms—that is, characters representing ideas—and were partially converted into a syllabic writing, the sounds of the syllables corresponding to the original names of the objects represented. Of the actual pictorial characters in their earliest form, we have no remains. The earliest known characters are generalized and are enclosed in oblong cases, each constituting a name or a word, and are arranged, not horizontally as in our writing, but perpendicularly, and the successive columns are read from right to left. In these respects they agree with Chinese, and thus afford one of the many points of contact between their culture and that of ‘the Flowery Land, which have been much discussed recently by M. Terrien de Lacouperie, the Rev. C. J. Ball, and others, and upon which we may have something to say on another occasion. As we have said,