Nineveh and Its Remains

Volume 2

By Austen Henry Layard, ESQ. D.C.L.

Part 1 - Chapter 11



As I was drawing one morning at the mound, Ibrahim Agha came to me, with his eyes full of tears, and announced the death of Tahyar Pasha. The Cawass had followed the fortunes of the late Governor of Mosul almost since childhood, and was looked upon as a member of his family. Like other Turks of his class, he had been devoted to the service of his patron, and was treated more like a companion than a servant. In no country in the world are ties of this nature more close than in Turkey; nowhere does there exist a better feeling between the master and the servant, and the master and the slave.

I was much grieved at the sudden death of Tahyar; for he was a man of gentle and kindly manners, just and considerate in his government, and of considerable information and learning for a Turk. I felt a kind of affection for him. The cause of his death shewed his integrity. His troops had plundered a friendly tribe, falsely represented to him as rebellious by his principal officers, who were anxious to have an opportunity of enriching themselves with the spoil. When he learnt the particulars of the affair, and that the tribe, so far from being hostile, were peaceably pasturing their flocks on the banks of the Khabour, he exclaimed, "You have destroyed my house" (i. e. its honour), and, without speaking again, died of a broken heart. He was buried in the court-yard of the principal mosque at Mardin. A simple but elegant tomb, surrounded by flowers and evergreens, was raised over his remains; and an Arabic inscription records the virtues and probable reward of one of the most honest and amiable men that it has been my lot, in a life of some experience amongst men of various kinds, to meet. I visited his monument on my return to Constantinople. From the lofty terrace, where it stands, the eye wanders over the vast plains of Mesopotamia, stretching to the -Euphrates — in spring one great meadow, covered with the tents and flocks of innumerable tribes.

The Kiayah, or chief secretary, was chosen Governor of the province by the council, until the Porte could name a new Pasha, or take other steps for the administration of affairs. Essad Pasha, who had lately been at Beyrout, was at length appointed to succeed Tahyar, and soon after reached his Pashalic. These changes did not affect my proceedings. Armed with my firman I was able to defy the machinations of the Cadi and the Ulema, who did not cease their endeavours to throw obstacles in my way.

After the celebration of Christmas I returned to Nimroud, and the excavations were again carried on with activity.

I should weary the reader, were I to describe, step by step, the progress of the work, and the discoveries gradually made in various parts of the great mound. The labours of one day resembled those of the preceding; but it would be difficult to convey to others an idea of the excitement which was produced by the constant discovery of objects of the highest interest. A mere journal of my proceedings would afford but little amusement, and I should have to repeat, over and over again, the same details, and should probably be led into a repetition of the same reflections. I prefer, therefore, describing at once the results of my labours during the first three months of the year; and I will endeavour to explain, as concisely as possible, the extent of the operations, and the nature of the buildings uncovered. I must necessarily make frequent reference to the plans; as, without the assistance they afford, it would be difficult to convey an accurate idea of the form of the edifices and position of the chambers.

The north-west palace was naturally the most interesting portion of the ruins, and to it were principally directed my researches. I had satisfied myself beyond a doubt that it was the most ancient building yet explored in Assyria. Not having been exposed to a conflagration like other edifices, the sculptures, bas-reliefs, and inscriptions, which it contained, were still admirably preserved.

When the excavations were resumed after Christmas, eight chambers had been discovered. There were now so many outlets, and entrances, that I had no trouble in finding new rooms and halls — one chamber leading into another. By the end of the month of April I had explored almost the whole building; and had opened twenty-eight chambers cased with alabaster slabs. Although many new objects of sculpture of considerable interest and importance were found in them, still the principal part of the edifice seems to have been that to the north. Chambers B and G contained the most remarkable bas-reliefs; they represented the deeds of the king in war and in the chase, his triumphant return, and the celebration of religious ceremonies. The best artists had evidently been employed upon them; and they excelled all those that had yet been discovered, in the elegance and finish of the ornaments, and in the knowledge of art displayed in the grouping of the figures. The walls of the other chambers were either occupied by a series of winged figures, separated by the sacred tree, — the figures resembling one another in every respect, — or the usual inscription alone was carved upon the slabs.

It will be perceived that a certain symmetry was, to some extent, observed in the plan of the building; particularly in the arrangement of the chambers to the East; those marked I and L corresponding in form and size, and both leading into small rooms, which do not communicate with any other part of the edifice. Each slab, however, in chamber L, is occupied by only one figure, — a gigantic winged divinity, or priest, — and is not divided into two compartments, as in chamber I. But it is remarkable that on the slab No. 20. there is a figure differing from all the rest, and corresponding with the figures found on the lower part of the slab No. 16. of chamber I. It is that of a winged female deity or priestess, bearing a garland in one hand, and raising the other as if in some act of adoration. Around her neck are suspended, in the form of a double necklace, the star-shaped ornaments already described.1 In this chamber also occur niches similarly placed to those in I. In front of the female figure, and forming part of the pavement, was a slab with a hole through the centre. On raising it I found an earthen pipe, about eight inches in diameter and two feet in length, communicating with a drain running underneath, the whole being lined and cemented with bitumen. One or two fragments of ivory were also found in this room.

In chamber H all the groups were similar — representing the king, holding a cup in one hand and his bow in the other, attended by two winged figures with garlands round their heads. The sculptures in chamber G, as I have already observed, were chiefly remarkable for the variety and elegance of the ornaments on the robes of the king, and his attendants. Amongst them were groups of figures similar to those represented on the walls of the palace, such as the king slaying the lion, and hunting the bull; winged figures before the sacred tree; religious emblems; various animals and elaborate scroll work; all furnishing not only beautiful designs, but important illustrations of the religion of the Assyrians.

The entrance d to this chamber was formed by two gigantic eagle-headed winged figures, of considerable beauty and finish; One of them was moved, and will be brought to England. In the chamber beyond, were repeated the winged divinities or priests, with the emblematic tree; except on slab 6, which had the king holding a bow in one hand, and two arrows in the other.

The four sculptures in the chamber, or rather passage, P (Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4.), were remarkable for the beauty of the ornaments and details, and their

careful finish. They all represented winged figures either holding a mace, a fir-cone, or some religious emblem. On their dresses, however, were a variety of groups and designs — lion hunts, bull hunts, winged animals, and many groups of winged figures. Amongst the last was a curious representation of the Assyrian Venus, Mylitta or Astarte, in an indecent posture which indicated the peculiar nature of her worship.

On each of the slabs forming the narrow passage a, leading from the chamber P, were two winged figures back to back. They were well designed and carefully executed. Beyond them, on slabs 2, 3, and 4 of chamber S, was the king between two eunuchs. The figure of the king, one of the most carefully sculptured and best preserved in the palace, has been removed, and will be brought to England. He is represented with one hand on the hilt of his sword, the other being supported by a long wand, or staff.

On the remaining slabs of chamber S the winged figures were repeated. Some carried flowers of various shapes, whilst others had the usual fir-cone, and square basket, or utensil.

Three sides alone of the great hall Y, were found entire. From its size it is probable that it was not roofed in, but was an open court. It appears to have been nearly square; but the western wall has been completely destroyed; the slabs having perhaps been carried away to be used in the construction of the south-west palace. Three entrances are still standing. The one at b, formed by a pair of winged lions, — those at e and f, by winged bulls. There was probably a fourth entrance on the western side, formed by a pair of lions, to correspond with that on the eastern; but I found no remains of it, although some might perhaps be discovered on a more careful examination. The removal of the slabs, which formed the western wall, has caused a depression in the mound; and consequently, if any large sculptures, such as the winged lions, had been left, when the slabs adjoining them were taken away, they would probably have been exposed to decay; and the upper part, remaining longest uncovered, would have been completely destroyed.

Behind the great hall Y, to the south, were a cluster of chambers leading one into another. Their proportions were small. V and W did not contain sculptures. T was surrounded by the usual winged figures: one of its entrances (a) being formed by two gigantic priests or divinities, with garlands round their heads, holding in one hand an ear of corn, and in the other an ibex, or mountain goat.

The chamber V is remarkable for the discovery, near the entrance a, of a number of ivory ornaments of considerable beauty and interest. These ivories, when uncovered, adhered so firmly to the soil, and were in so forward a state of decomposition, that I had the greatest difficulty in extracting them, even in fragments. I spent hours lying on the ground, separating them, with a penknife, from the rubbish by which they were surrounded. Those who saw them when they first reached this country, will be aware of the difficulty of releasing them from the hardened mass in which they were embedded. The ivory separated itself in flakes. Even the falling away of the earth was sufficient to reduce it almost to powder. This will account for the condition of the specimens which have been placed in the British Museum. With all the care that I could devote to the collection of the fragments, many were lost, or remained unperceived, in the immense heap of rubbish under which they were buried. Since they have been in England, they have been admirably restored and cleaned. The glutinous matter, by which the particles forming the ivory are kept together, had, from the decay of centuries, been completely exhausted. By an ingenious process it has been restored, and the ornaments, which on their discovery fell to pieces almost upon mere exposure to the air, have regained the appearance and consistency of recent ivory, and may be handled without risk of injury.

The important evidence, as to the epoch of the destruction of the building, furnished by these ivories, will be alluded to in another place. I will here merely describe them. The most interesting are the remains of two small tablets, one nearly entire, the other much injured. Upon them are represented two sitting figures, holding in one hand the Egyptian sceptre or symbol of power. Between them is a cartouche, containing a name or words in hieroglyphics, and surmounted by a feather or plume, such as is found in monuments of the eighteenth, and subsequent dynasties, of Egypt. The chairs on which the figures are seated, the robes of the figures themselves, the hieroglyphics in the cartouche, and the feather above it, were enamelled with a blue substance let into the ivory, and the whole ground of the tablet, as well as the cartouche and part of the figures, was originally gilded, — remains of the gold leaf still adhering to them. The forms, and style of art, have a purely Egyptian character; although there are certain peculiarities in the execution, and mode of treatment, that would seem to mark the work of a foreign, perhaps an Assyrian, artist. The same peculiarities — the same anomalies, — characterize all the other objects discovered. Several small heads in frames, supported by pillars or pedestals, most elegant in design and elaborate in execution, show not only a considerable acquaintance with art, but an intimate knowledge of the method of working in ivory. Found with them were oblong tablets, upon which are sculptured, with great delicacy, standing figures, with one hand elevated, and holding in the other a stem or staff, surmounted by a flower or ornament resembling the Egyptian lotus. Scattered about were fragments of winged sphinxes, the head of a lion of singular beauty, but which unfortunately fell to pieces, human heads, hands, legs, and feet, bulls, flowers, and scrollwork. In all these specimens the spirit of the design and the delicacy of the workmanship are equally to be admired.2

On the two slabs forming the entrance to chamber U, were two remarkable inscriptions, cut above those which invariably occur on the slabs of this palace. They contained the name of the king who founded Khorsabad, and they had evidently been placed there long after the lower inscriptions (from which they differ in the forms of many characters) had been cut. They may have been carved to celebrate the reopening, or the restoration, of the building.

In all the chambers to the south of the great hall Y, were found copper vessels of peculiar shape; but they fell to pieces almost immediately on exposure to the air, and I was unable to preserve one of them entire.

Beyond the entrance b, as far as chamber S, the alabaster slabs ceased altogether; and I was, for some time, at a loss to account for the manner in which the building had been continued. The pavement of baked bricks was still carried on, and it was evident that the edifice did not end here. It was some time before I discovered that I was now digging into chambers formed by walls of sun-dried bricks, over which a thin coating of plaster had been laid. They had been painted with figures and ornaments; but the colours had faded so completely, that scarcely any of the subjects or designs could be traced. It required the greatest care to separate the rubbish from the walls, without destroying, at the same time, the plaster to which it adhered. I seldom succeeded in uncovering even a small portion of the paintings, as the plaster fell from the walls in flakes, notwithstanding all my efforts to preserve it. I was able to draw a few of the ornaments, in which the colours chiefly distinguishable were red, blue, black, and white. The subjects of the paintings appeared to be generally processions, in which the king was represented followed by his eunuchs and attendant warriors. The figures were merely in outline, in black upon a blue ground, and I was unable to distinguish any other colour. In design they resembled the sculptures — exhibiting the same features, and the same peculiar treatment in the draperies and attitudes.

As the means at my disposal did not warrant any outlay in making mere experiments, without the promise of the discovery of something to carry away, I felt myself compelled, much against my inclination, to abandon the excavations in this part of the mound, after uncovering portions of two chambers. The doorway, which united them, was paved with one large slab, ornamented with flowers and scroll-work. The flooring was of baked bricks.

I found, by opening trenches behind chambers I and L, that similar painted rooms existed in other parts of the mound. The palace did not, therefore, only contain chambers formed by slabs of alabaster, but had other apartments, extending considerably beyond the limits shown in the plan. How far, I could not ascertain.

It may be mentioned that on the slabs 1 and 2, and those opposite, of chamber Z, were sculptured small winged figures, — two, one above the other, on each. On removing No. 2., I found behind it, embedded in the wall of sun-dried bricks, a small earthen bowl, or cup, of baked clay of a dark red colour. This, consequently, is the most ancient specimen of pottery hitherto discovered in Assyria; for, from its position behind the slab, it is evident that it must have been placed there at the time of the building of the edifice.3 Between the bulls and lions, forming the entrances in different parts of the palace, were invariably found a large collection of baked bricks, elaborately painted with figures of animals, and flowers, arid with cuneiform characters. It is remarkable, that on the back of these bricks, or on one of the sides not coloured, are rude designs, in black paint or ink, of men and animals, and marks having the appearance of numbers. They appear to have been built into a wall above the sculptures. That they belonged to this edifice is proved by the name of the king which is painted upon them.4

Whilst excavating above the southern chambers of this palace, I found, in the rubbish several feet above the walls, numerous vases of baked clay. In those that were preserved entire, human remains could be distinguished; but it was not until I had made further discoveries, that I learnt the nature and importance of these objects.

On the western side of the great mound, to the south of the palace in which the discoveries just described were made, there is a considerable elevation. The spot is marked e on plan 1. To examine the place, a trench was opened on a level with the platform. It was some time before I discovered that we were cutting into a kind of tower, or nest of upper chambers, constructed entirely of unbaked bricks; the walls being plastered, and elaborately painted. I explored three rooms, and part of a fourth, on the southern side of the building.

It is probable that there were four similar groups of chambers, facing the four cardinal points. In front of the entrance a5, was a large square slab with slightly-raised edges, similar to those frequently found in the north-west palace. Parallel with it were two narrow pieces of alabaster, with a groove running down the centre, carefully cut and fitted together, which I can only compare to the rails of a railroad. I cannot form any conjecture as to their use. The rooms had been twice painted — two distinct coats of plaster being visible on the walls. The outer coating, when carefully detached, left the under; on which were painted ornaments differing from those above.

In the centre, and in one of the corners, of chamber C, were recesses, similar to those in some of the alabaster slabs in the north-west palace. No remains of plaster, or colour, could be traced upon the sundried bricks, forming the back of these recesses.

The painted ornaments were elaborate and graceful in design. The Assyrian bull was frequently pourtrayed, sometimes with wings, sometimes without. Above the animals were painted battlements, similar to those of castles, as represented in the sculptures. Below them, forming a kind of cornice, were squares and circles, tastefully arranged; and more elaborate combinations were not wanting. The colours found were blue, red, white, yellow, and black. I doubt whether any green was used in this building; the green on the under coating of plaster, being rather the result of the decomposition of the blue. The pale yellow of the ground, on which the designs were painted, resembles the tint on the walls of Egypt; but it is possible that white had changed to this colour.

But the most important discovery, connected with these upper chambers, was that of the slabs forming the pavement of the two entrances a and b. Upon them were the names and titles of five kings, in genealogical succession; commencing with the father of the founder of the north-west palace, and ending with the grandson of the builder of the centre edifice. By this valuable record, I was able to verify the connection between the names already discovered, and to add two more to the list.6

I could not ascertain whether there were any chambers, or remains of buildings, beneath this upper edifice; or whether this was a tower constructed on the solid outer wall. A deep trench was opened on the eastern side of it7, and about twenty feet below the surface, a pavement of brick and several square slabs of alabaster were uncoverd; but these remains did not throw any light upon the nature of the building above; nor were they sufficient to show that the north-west palace had been carried under these upper chambers. To the south of them there were no remains of building, the platform of unbaked bricks being continued up to the level of the flooring of the chambers; but there is reason to believe that this part of the mound is of a more recent date than that to the north of it, and was added at a subsequent period.

In the centre of the mound, to the north of the great winged bulls, I had in vain endeavoured to find traces of building. Except the obelisk, two winged figures, and a few fragments of yellow limestone, which appeared to have formed part of a gigantic bull or lion, no remains of sculpture had yet been discovered. On excavating to the south, I found a well formed tomb, built of bricks, and covered with a slab of alabaster. It was about five feet in length, and scarcely more than eighteen inches in breadth in the interior. On removing the lid, parts of a skeleton were exposed to view; the skull and some of the larger bones were still entire; but, on an attempt being made to move them, they crumbled into dust. With them were three earthen vessels. A vase of reddish clay, with a long narrow neck, stood in a dish of such delicate fabric, that I had great difficulty in removing it entire. Over the mouth of the vase was placed a bowl or cup, also of red clay. This pottery appears to have stood near the right shoulder of the body. In the dust, which had accumulated round the skeleton, were found beads and small ornaments belonging to a necklace. The beads are of opaque coloured glass, agate, cornelian and amethyst. A small crouching lion of lapis lazuli, pierced on the back, had been attached to the end of the necklace. The vases and ornaments are Egyptian in their character, being identical with similar remains found in the tombs of Egypt, and preserved in collections of antiquities from that country. With the beads was a cylinder, on which is represented the king in his chariot, hunting the wild bull, as in the bas-relief from the northwest palace. The surface of the cylinder has been so much worn and injured, that it is difficult to distinguish the figures upon it. A copper ornament resembling a modern seal, two bracelets of silver, and a pin for the hair were also discovered. I carefully collected and preserved these interesting remains, which seemed to prove that the body had been that of a female.

On digging beyond this tomb, I found a second, similarly constructed, and of the same size. In it were two vases of highly glazed green pottery, elegant in shape, and in perfect preservation. Near them was a copper mirror, and a copper lustral spoon, all Egyptian in form.

Many other tombs were opened, containing vases, plates, mirrors, spoons, beads, and ornaments. Some of them were built of baked bricks, carefully joined, but without mortar; others were formed by large earthen sarcophagi, covered with an entire alabaster slab, similar to those discovered in the south-east corner of the mound, and already described.8

Having carefully collected and packed the contents of the tombs, I removed them and dug deeper into the mound. I was surprised to find, about five feet beneath them, the remains of a building. AYalls of unbaked bricks could still be traced; but the slabs, with which they had been cased, were no longer in their places, being scattered about without order, and lying mostly with their faces on the flooring of baked bricks. Upon them, were both sculptures and inscriptions. Slab succeeded to slab; and when I had removed nearly twenty tombs, and cleared away the earth from a space about fifty feet square, the ruins, which had been thus uncovered, presented a very singular appearance. Above one hundred slabs were exposed to view, packed in rows, one against the other, as slabs in a stone-cutter's yard, or as the leaves of a gigantic book. Every slab was sculptured; and as they were placed in a regular series, according to the subjects upon them, it was evident that they had been moved, in the order in which they stood, from their original positions against the walls of sun-dried brick; and had been left as found preparatory to their removal elsewhere. That they were not thus arranged before being used in the building for which they had been originally sculptured, was evident from the fact, proved beyond a doubt by repeated observation, that the Assyrians carved their slabs after, and not before, they were placed. Subjects were continued on adjoining slabs, figures and chariots being divided in the centre. There were places for the iron brackets, or dovetails. They had evidently been once filled, for I could still trace marks and stains left by the metal. To the south of the centre bulls were two gigantic figures, similar to those discovered to the north.9

These sculptures resembled, in many respects, some of the bas-reliefs found in the south-west palace, in which the sculptured face of the slab was turned, it will be remembered, towards the walls of unbaked bricks. It appeared, therefore, that the centre building had been destroyed, to supply materials for the construction of this edifice. But here were tombs over the ruins. The edifice had perished, and in the earth and rubbish accumulating above its remains, a people, whose funereal vases and ornaments were identical in form and material with those found in the catacombs of Egypt, had buried their dead. What race, then, occupied the country after the destruction of the Assyrian palaces? At what period were these tombs made? What antiquity did their presence assign to the buildings beneath them? These are questions which I am yet unable to answer; and which must be left undecided, until the origin and age of the contents of the tombs can be satisfactorily determined.

The bas-reliefs differed considerably from those of the north-west palace, both in the character of the sculpture, and the treatment of the subjects; in the costumes of the figures, in the caparisons of the horses, and in the form of the chariots. The distinction was so great, that the short period elapsing between the reigns of a father and son could scarcely have given rise, except under extraordinary circumstances, to so considerable a change in all these points. As the centre bulls were inscribed with the name of the son of the founder of the north-west building, it might be presumed that the ruins near them belong to the same period as the rest of the palace. However, this is liable to doubt. The bulls, as it has already been pointed out10, may have stood alone on the platform, and may have been placed long previous to the construction of an edifice. There were a few inscriptions accompanying the bas-reliefs, and they may hereafter serve to decide the question. On the greater number of slabs, however, the space between the bas-reliefs was left without any inscription.

The subjects principally recorded by the sculptures thus found collected together, with the exception of a few gigantic figures of the king and his attendant eunuchs, and of the winged priests or divinities, were battle-pieces and sieges. Some cities were represented t as standing on a river, in the midst of groves of date-trees; others on mountains. Amongst the conquered people were warriors mounted on camels. It may be inferred, therefore, that a part of these sculptures were made to record the invasion or conquest of an Arab nation, or perhaps of a part of Babylonia; the inhabitants of the cities being assisted by auxiliaries, or allies from the neighbouring desert. The conquered race, as in the bas-reliefs of the north-west palace, were generally without helmets or armour, their hair falling loosely on their shoulders. Some, however, were provided with helmets, which vary in shape from those worn by the conquerors.

A battering ram, differing in form from that seen in the earlier sculptures, was found on bas-reliefs representing sieges. They were unaccompanied by the moving tower; some were provided with two rams, the ends of which, instead of being broad and blunt, were pointed, and resembled the heads of spears.

On two slabs (occupied by one subject) were bas-reliefs of considerable interest. They have been sent to England, and represent the taking of a city, within the walls of which grew the palm and other trees. The place having been sacked, the conquerors are seen carrying away the spoil. Two eunuchs, standing near the gates, count, as they pass before them, the sheep, oxen, and other cattle driven away by the warriors, and write down the numbers with a pen upon rolls of paper or leather. In the lower part of the bas-relief, are two carts drawn by oxen. Two women and a child are in each. The women appear to be carrying away bags, containing provisions or valuable property, saved during the sack. Near the gates stand two battering rams, which, the city having been taken, are no longer at work. The subject is not ill-arranged, and the oxen drawing the cart are well designed.

On the fragment of a slab were found two gigantic horses' heads, well designed; but sculptured in very low relief, and greatly injured. T also discovered parts of a winged human-headed bull, the whole being in relief. I was able to preserve one of the heads.

Upon other slabs were the king seated on his throne, the sun, moon, and other religious symbols being placed above his head, and receiving prisoners with their arms bound behind them; eunuchs registering the heads of the enemy, laid at their feet by the conquering warriors; a procession of gods borne on the shoulders of men; and many other subjects.

The sides of all the slabs thus placed one against the other — the part which, in the event of their gradual covering up, would have been longest exposed — were worn away. It was, therefore, evident that they had not been buried by the same process as the sculptures in the north-west palace, the walls of which could not have been long exposed. If the edifice to which they originally belonged had been suddenly covered up, it must have been subsequently excavated. The slabs were then removed from their places, and arranged as they were found, preparatory to being used for other purposes, probably for the construction of the south-west palace. Not having been carried away, as that palace had not been finished, they were left exposed, and were gradually covered by dust and rubbish. As the slabs stood on their sides, and not upright, all the bas-reliefs had suffered more or less injury. Many were completely destroyed, no traces of sculpture remaining upon them. The upper part of the slabs had not been the first injured; this proves that they were not exposed whilst standing in their original position, but subsequent to their removal.

Although on each slab the two bas-reliefs were divided by an unsculptured space, as in the northwest palace, in few instances, as I have already mentioned, were inscriptions cut upon it. It had been left blank; but whether intentionally, or because the building had never been completed, there were no means of ascertaining. The slabs, too, were much thinner than those used in other parts of the mound; and, as the dove-tailed and circular holes for metal braces on the top were cut in half, it is evident that they had been reduced in size after having been used. They had probably been sawn in two, the other half having been carried elsewhere. There were no inscriptions on the back, as is invariably the case in the north-west palace; and this is another proof that the slabs had been reduced after they had been placed. In fact, I have little doubt, from the appearance of these ruins, that the building to which the sculptures originally belonged had been suddenly buried, like that in the north-west corner of the mound; and that it had subsequently been uncovered, the materials being wanted for the construction, as I have conjectured, of the south-west palace. The slabs, not having been required, were left exposed, until they were reburied by a gradual accumulation of dust and rubbish. I could still trace the walls of unbaked bricks, forming the divisions of chambers in the old edifice.

To the east of the centre bulls I discovered the remains of several slabs, still standing in their proper position. The lower part alone remained, the upper having been completely destroyed. Upon them had been sculptured gigantic winged figures, carrying the usual square vessel, and a sacred flower.

Several trenches were opened around these remains; but, with the exception of the sculptures just mentioned, and the fragments of a second winged bull of yellow limestone, I could find no traces of building in the centre of the mound.

I have described the singular appearance presented by the ruins in the south-west corner. Several parties of workmen were now engaged in exploring them. When all the walls still standing had been traced, and trenches opened in opposite directions, so that no remains of building could escape observation, I was equally at a loss to determine the position of the chambers, and the extent of the edifice.

It will be seen, by a reference to plan 2., that the only portion of the building sufficiently well preserved to give any idea of its original form, was one large hall curiously constructed. Leading into it were two entrances, formed by gigantic winged bulls and lions, with human heads; and, in the centre, was a portal formed by a second pair of bulls. At entrance a, were a pair of lions with the crouching sphinxes between; at entrance c, a pair of bulls, much injured, only the lower part being entire. A human head, belonging to one of them, was, however, discovered near the remains of the body; and, as it was nearly entire, I sent it to Busrah. The second pair of bulls were at entrance b. They resembled the lions at entrance a, in having figures sculptured behind the body of the animal, and between the cap and the wings. Between them were a pair of double sphinxes — two sphinxes, resembling those already described, being united, and forming one pedestal. They had been greatly injured by fire, and the heads and all the sculptured portions of the figure had fallen to pieces.11

The lions and bulls were all sculptured out of a coarse grey limestone; the space between them was paved with small slabs of the same material. I have called all the space enclosed by the walls d, e, m, l, k, and j, one hall; although it is divided into four separate chambers by a thick partition in the centre. This partition appears to have been merely constructed to support the beams of the roof, and not to have been meant as a division between different rooms.

The hall narrows near the four corners, and in the narrowest part at each extremity were two low spherical stones, flattened at the top. I cannot account for their use. If they were bases of columns supporting the roof, why were they placed in the narrowest part of the hall? No remains of pillars were found near them, and if any ever existed they must have been of wood. It appears more probable that these stones corresponded in some manner with the crouching sphinxes between the bulls and lions; and were altars to receive sacrifices, or tables upon which vases or utensils were laid.

The whole of this hall was panelled with slabs brought from elsewhere; the only sculptures, attributable to those who built it, being the gigantic lions and bulls, and the crouching sphinxes. The slabs were not all from the same edifice. Some, and by far the greater number, belonged to the north-west, others to the centre, palace. But there were many bas-reliefs which differed greatly, in the style of art, from the sculptures discovered in both those buildings. From whence they were obtained I was unable to determine; whether from a palace of another period once existing at Nimroud, and still concealed in a part of the mound not explored, or from some ruin in the neighbourhood.

All the walls had been exposed to fire; the slabs were nearly reduced to lime, and were too much injured and cracked to bear removal. They were not all sculptured; the bas-reliefs being scattered here and there; and, as I have already observed, always when left entire, turned towards the wall of sun-dried brick. The earth had consequently to be removed by the workmen from both sides of the slabs.

I will proceed to describe the walls as they are marked on the plan; without a reference to which, the details and form of the ruins can scarcely be understood.

All the slabs in wall a were unsculptured, except Nos. 5. and 10. On the first were represented the walls of a castle, the king being within, seated on his throne, and receiving his vizir. Around him were his attendants, and above him a groom bringing corn to a horse tied to a manger. On the other slab was a horseman wearing a helmet with a curved crest, of which a sketch is given. He appears to be raising his hand in the act of asking for quarter, whilst his horse, pierced by the spears of two pursuing warriors, is rearing and plunging.12 Both the slabs had been greatly injured.

No remains of sculpture could be traced on walls b, c, and d. Upon the faces of most of the slabs forming wall e, were the marks of a chisel, or of some metal instrument. The bas-reliefs had been carefully erased, the only part of the figures remaining being the feet, which would probably have been concealed by the pavement of the chamber. As the sculptured face of the slabs had been turned towards the chamber, and not to the wall of sundried brick, it is evident that the bas-reliefs had been purposely destroyed; the intention of the builders of the edifice being either to recarve the alabaster, or to reduce it to a smooth surface. The boots, and fringes on the lower part of the dresses of the erased figures, identified them with the sculptures in chambers D and E of the north-west palace (plan 3.), from whence indeed they may have been brought, as the ravine to the north of that edifice must have been partly caused by the removal of a wall. On the slab adjoining entrance e, were two bas-reliefs, the upper (partly destroyed) representing warriors hewing down trees; the lower, a warrior on horseback hunting the wild bull. Both were too much injured to bear removal.

Only parts of walls f and h had been finished; many of the slabs not having been used, and still lying in the centre of the chamber. It was evident that they had not fallen after having been placed, for they were entire, having only suffered injury from fire; they were, moreover, arranged in rows with great regularity, and, in one or two instances, heaped one above the other. These prostrate slabs, therefore, furnished additional evidence that the building had been destroyed before its completion. In wall f, were the two sculptured slabs already described.13 In wall h, there were bas-reliefs on Nos. 1, 2., and on the adjoining prostrate slab. In the upper compartment of No. 2. was represented the king, in his chariot, discharging an arrow against a charioteer, whose horses had already been wounded. Scattered about, were the bodies of the slain. The top of this bas-relief had been destroyed, and the slab so much injured, that it could not be moved. In the lower compartment were two kneeling archers, wearing the conical helmet, and an eunuch also discharging an arrow; behind them were several figures, probably prisoners, raising their hands. The draperies, and ornaments on both bas-reliefs were elegant and elaborate, resembling those on the opposite slab (No. 1. wall f), to which they appear originally to have been joined, forming part of the same subjects.

The corner stone (No. 1.) was reversed; upon it was a figure with the conical cap, apparently made of bands of linen or felt, and already described as represented in the sculptures of chambers D and E (plan 3.).14 The upper part of the stone (or the lower part of the reversed figure) had been purposely destroyed, the marks of the chisel being visible. In this respect, and in its position, it resembled the opposite corner stone.

On the prostrate slab were two bas-reliefs. The upper was so much injured that the outlines of a chariot, and warriors on foot, could with difficulty be traced. The lower was the siege of a castle; an eunuch was represented discharging his arrows against warriors, without helmets, who manned the towers and walls. The besiegers were leading away prisoners, and carrying off the spoil. One high-capped warrior was seen cutting a bucket from a rope passed through a pulley; and probably used by the besieged to supply themselves with water from a well, without the castle walls. The pulley resembled those now in common use, for raising and lowering buckets into wells. This bas-relief had been brought from the north-west palace.

There were no slabs against wall g, nor near it; those of wall i were unsculptured. Upon the two opposite slabs at ii, were winged human-headed bulls, resembling in form those at the entrance to the hall; except that the whole, including the head and forepart, was sculptured in low relief. They bore no traces of an inscription. The cap was high and square; and they resembled, in all respects, the remains of the bull discovered in the centre of the mound.

Walls j, and jj, were cased with unsculptured slabs, each bearing an inscription similar to that on the back of the slabs in the north-west palace: they had evidently been brought from that building.

In wall k there were three sculptured slabs. The bas-reliefs on Nos. 12. and 16. have already been described.15 On No. 17. was a winged figure almost completely destroyed. On the floor, and opposite No. 18. of this wall, was a large square slab bearing a long inscription. It commenced with the name and titles of a king, of whom no other records have yet been discovered. The forms of certain arrow-headed characters show, that this inscription belongs to a period posterior to the reign of the great-grandson of the founder of the north-west palace.

On the backs of several slabs, forming the wall ^, were bas-reliefs; but all so much injured, that scarcely a trace of the sculpture remained. The slab lying on the pavement opposite this wall was plain; the edges were raised, and it was pierced in the centre.

On all the slabs of wall m, was the inscription containing the name of the founder of the north-west palace; and the reversed slab (No. 10.), already described, appears to have been a pavement stone, also brought from that building.

To the north of the entrance c of the great hall, remains of buildings were discovered, but no entire chamber. A large number of unplaced slabs were scattered about. They appear to have been brought from elsewhere, to be used in the construction of the palace, and to have been abandoned before they reached their destination. Although many detached walls were uncovered, it was impossible to determine the form and size of the chambers to which they belonged.

In front of entrance c, and about 220 feet from it, were the remains of a pair of winged bulls, forming another entrance, The whole space between may have been comprised in one large hall, open at the top. The wall forming the east side of this hall, if it had ever been finished, had almost completely disappeared; the traces of it being only marked here and there, by fragments of calcined alabaster. Of the opposite, or western wall, a few sculptured slabs, probably brought from elsewhere, were alone standing. To the right and left of the entrance f, were the remains of gigantic figures in relief; but they had been exposed to the fire, and had been cracked into a thousand pieces.16 They also appear to have belonged to another edifice.

Upon the three slabs forming the wall?', were bas-reliefs of considerable interest. They once formed part of another building, but do not belong to either the north-west, or the centre palace. They appear to be of the same period as the bas-reliefs on wall q17, already described. In the lower compartment of No. 1. was a charioteer, in a highly ornamented chariot — the horse being held by a groom on foot, preceded by an eunuch. This relief must have formed part of a series; the figures represented in it being probably the attendants of the king. The caparisons of the horses resembled those at Khorsabad. Above this bas-relief was also a chariot, and a man on foot; but they had been almost entirely destroyed. On the lower part of No. 2. was the king placing his foot on the neck of a prostrate prisoner, and raising his spear over him. Following the king is an eunuch carrying a fan; and standing before him, his vizir, also attended by an eunuch. This bas-relief did not form part of the preceding; for the king would have faced the chariot on that slab — a position which he never appears to occupy in the Assyrian sculptures. The upper compartment was nearly defaced; I could, however, trace the figures of warriors discharging their arrows from behind a high shield held in front of them by an attendant.

On the lower part of slab No. 3. was a bas-relief of considerable interest. It represented either a procession of gods, borne on the shoulders of warriors; or warriors, returning from the sack of a city, carrying away the idols of the conquered people. Each figure was raised by four men: the first was that of a female, seated on a high-backed arm-chair, looking towards the spectator; the face is, consequently, sculptured in full, — a rare occurrence in Assyrian sculpture. In one hand, she holds a ring; in the other, apparently, a kind of fan or triangle; on the top of her square horned cap is a star. The next figure is also that of a female, wearing a similar cap, seated in a chair, and holding in her left hand a ring; she carries something in her right hand, but its form cannot be distinguished. The third figure is much smaller in its proportions than those preceding it, and is half concealed in a case, or box, carried on a chair: there is also a ring in its left hand. The fourth is that of a man in the act of walking: in one hand, he holds the thunderbolt of the Greek Jove — represented as at Malthaiyah; and in the other, an axe. He wears a richly ornamented tunic descending to the knees. The warriors, bearing these figures, were probably preceded and followed by others, also carrying idols; but no traces of the slabs, forming the rest of the series, could be found amongst the ruins. On each slab, between the bas-reliefs, was an inscription, divided into two parts by a perpendicular line.

Trenches were opened, in various directions, across the corner of the mound in which these remains were discovered. Nothing, however, was found but isolated unplaced slabs, and fragments of burnt walls. With adequate means and time at my disposal, I might have determined, by a careful examination, the position of the walls of sun-dried bricks, if they had ever been built. Tracing them, by the fragments remaining, I could have ascertained the form of the chambers, and perhaps that of the entire building. It would have been difficult, however, to distinguish between these walls and the earth and rubbish under which they were buried; and as no more sculptures appeared to exist, I did not think it worth while to incur additional expense in such an examination.

As the bottom of the slabs, forming this edifice, was even above the level of the top of those in the northwest palace, and as no building had yet been found from which many of the sculptures could have been taken, it appeared to me possible that the southwest palace stood above other ruins. By way of experiment, I directed long and very deep trenches to be opened in three different directions: nothing, however, was discovered, but a box or square hole, formed by bricks carefully fitted together, containing several small heads in unbaked clay of a dark brown colour. These heads are furnished with beards, and have very high pointed caps (not helmets) or mitres.18 They were found about twenty feet beneath the surface, and were probably idols placed, for some religious purpose, under the foundations of buildings. Objects somewhat similar, in unbaked clay, were discovered at Khorsabad, buried under the slabs forming the pavement between the gigantic bulls.

Near the entrance d of the great hall was found, amidst a mass of charred wood and charcoal, and beneath a fallen slab, part of a beam in good preservation. It appears to be mulberry. This is the only portion of entire wood as yet discovered in the ruins of Assyria.

The south-east corner of the mound, which was considerably higher than any other part, appears to have been the principal burying place of those who occupied the country after the destruction of the oldest of the Assyrian palaces. I have already described two tombs discovered there19: many others were subsequently found. The sarcophagi were mostly of the same shape, that of a dish-cover; but there were other tombs constructed of bricks, well fitted together and covered by a slab, similar to those above the ruins of the edifice in the centre of the mound. In nearly all were earthen vases, copper and silver ornaments, lachrymatories and small alabaster bottles. The skeletons, as soon as uncovered, crumbled to pieces, although entire when first exposed. Two skulls alone have been preserved. Scattered amongst these tombs were a large number of vases of all sizes, lamps, and small objects of pottery — some uninjured, others broken into fragments.

Removing these tombs I discovered beneath them the remains of a building, and explored seven chambers, of which I give the plan. No sculptured slabs, or inscriptions were found in them. They resembled those in the ruin to the north of Kouyunjik20; the lower part of the walls being built of plain slabs of limestone, three feet seven inches high and from two to three feet wide, closely fitted together. The upper part, of sun-dried bricks, had been covered by a thick coat of white plaster. I could trace this brick wall about fourteen feet above the slabs. The chambers were paved with limestone. There were no traces of inscriptions, nor were there any remains or fragments by which the comparative age of the building could be determined. In the walls were recesses like those in some of the chambers of the north-west palace, and the door-posts were slightly ornamented with a rough kind of cornice. No remains of colour could be seen on the plastered walls.

In the rubbish, near the bottom of these chambers, several small objects were found; amongst them I may mention a female head in white alabaster, highly ornamented and showing traces of colour.21

A trench having been opened on the southern edge of the mound, an outer wall, built of squared stones, or rather slabs, was discovered. Behind it were other walls of similar construction leading inwards, and alow platform, resembling a stone seat, in which were cut several holes, like the fireplaces used by the natives of the country to hold charcoal when they roast their meat. The Arabs consequently named the place the " Kibab Shop." The whole was buried under a heap of charcoal and rubbish, in which were found several small vases, and part of a highly polished black slab, having, on either face, a cuneiform inscription, and on the sides figures of animals. Similar remains of building were discovered on the south-eastern edge of this part of the mound. The whole, including the centre chambers, appeared to form parts of one extensive edifice.

Between the palace in the south-west corner and the ruins last described, was a deep ravine; whether an ancient artificial ascent to the platform, gradually deepened and widened by the winter rains, or entirely a natural watercourse, I was unable to determine. Along its sides, to a considerable depth, were exposed masses of brickwork. I directed several trenches to be carried from this ravine into the south-eastern corner, in the expectation of finding buildings beneath the chambers already explored. A few fragments of sculptured alabaster, the remains of a winged bull in yellow limestone, and a piece of black stone bearing small figures, evidently from an obelisk resembling that found in the centre palace, were discovered; but to the west of the upper building. I could also trace walls of sun-dried brick, still bearing remains of painted ornaments, but the excavations were not sufficiently extensive to enable me to ascertain the nature, and extent of the edifice. Finding no sculptured slabs, I did not continue my researches in this part of the ruins.

It only remains for me to mention a singular discovery on the eastern face of the mound, near its northern extremity. I had opened a trench22 from the outer slope, with a view to ascertain the nature of the wall surrounding the inner buildings. I found no traces of stone, or of alabaster slabs; the wall being built of sun-dried bricks and nearly fifty feet thick. In its centre, about fifteen feet below the surface of the platform, the workmen came upon a small vaulted chamber, built of baked bricks. It was about ten feet high, and the same in width. The arch was constructed upon the well-known principle of vaulted roofs — the bricks being placed sideways, one against the other, and having been probably sustained by a frame-work until the vault was completed. This chamber was nearly blocked up with rubbish, the greater part being a kind of slag. The sides of the bricks, forming the arched roof and the walls, were almost vitrified, and had evidently been exposed to very intense heat. In fact, the chamber had the appearance of a large furnace for making glass, or for fusing metal. I am unable to account for its use. It is buried in the centre of a thick wall, and I could find no access to it from without. If, therefore, either originally a furnace or serving for any other purpose, it must have been used before the upper part of the wall was built.

Several trenches were opened in other parts of the mound.23 Everywhere I found traces of buildings, and generally reached a pavement of baked bricks between ten and fifteen feet beneath the surface. In the northern half of the mound, the name of the founder of the earliest palace was written upon all these bricks. No remains, however, of sculptured slabs or inscriptions were discovered; but many small objects of considerable interest were occasionally taken out of the rubbish: amongst them I may mention three lions' paws in copper, of beautiful form, which may have belonged to the bottom of a couch or throne.24

The ruins were, of course, very inadequately explored; but with the small sum at my disposal I was unable to pursue my researches to the extent that I could have wished. If, after carrying a trench to a reasonable depth and distance, no remains of sculpture or inscription appeared, I abandoned it and renewed the experiment elsewhere. By this mode of proceeding I could ascertain, at least, that in no part of the mound was there any very extensive edifice still standing; although it is highly probable that slabs taken from such an edifice, and placed together in readiness for removal, like those discovered in the centre, may still be buried under the soil. But there is nothing to point out the spot where such remains may be deposited, and I might have sought after them in vain for months. There were too many tangible objects in view to warrant an outlay in experiments, perhaps leading to no results; and I have left a great part of the mound of Nimroud to be explored by those, who may hereafter succeed me in the examination of the ruins of Assyria.



1) See page 341. Vol. I. This figure has been moved, and is amongst the sculptures which have been secured for the British Museum.

2) I add Mr. Birch's description of the most important of the ivory ornaments — that containing the cartouche. "The first of these panels, which is the most complete, measures nine inches long by six inches high. The cartouche is placed vertically in the centre, surmounted by a solar disk, gilded, flanked by two ostrich feathers, which are inlaid with narrow horizontal strips of opaque blue glass, probably imitations of lapis-lazuli, and with some few bars in green. The area of the cartouche is gilded, and the hieroglyphics are incused, and inlaid with blue glass. At each side is a divinity, beardless, wearing the long hair-dress called namms, also inlaid with blue, and draped in linen garments, enveloping the whole of the form, with a border of inlaid blue ovals. The seats on which they sit are the usual Egyptian throne, the side decorated with scales alternately of blue and opaque green pastes, inlaid into the ivory, and intended to imitate lapis-lazuli and felspar. At the lower corner, in a compartment, in gilded ivory on a blue back-ground, is a symbol of life. Each divinity holds in one hand a tam or kukupha sceptre, and holds up the other with the palm turned towards the cartouche. No name is attached to either of these figures, which are probably intended for deities of an inferior rank, such as the Persian Izjeds. Like all the Egyptian figures, they are unbearded; but their drapery is not that of Egyptian females." (Trans, of the Royal Society of Literature, New Series.) For a detailed description of all the ivory fragments discovered, see Appendix.

3) It has been preserved, and will be placed in the British Museum.

4) Many specimens have been secured, and will be deposited in the British Museum

5) See plan 4.

6) One of these slabs will be placed in the British Museum.

7) At d, in plan 1.

8) See Vol. I. p. 351.

9) See Vol. I. p. 344.

10) Vol. I. p. 344.

11) The remains of n small double sphinx of this kind had already been found in the rubbish at entrance a. See Vol. I. page 349.

12) This sculpture will be placed in the British Museum.

13) See Vol. I. page 40.

14) See Vol. I. page 126. The head of this figure will be placed in the British Museum.

15) See Vol. I. page 55.

16) On No. 2. wall v, could be still traced a winged figure leading a goat, or an ibex.

17) Vol. I. page 59.

18) They will be deposited in the British Museum.

19) See Vol. I. p. 351., &c.

20) Vol. I. p. 144.

21) This head will be placed in the British Museum.

22) r, plan 1.

23) At o, p, q, s, and t in plan 1.

24) Found at p, plan 1.