Nineveh and Its Remains

Volume 2

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

Part 2 - Chapter 6



THE monuments hitherto discovered in Assyria, furnish us with few details illustrating the private life and domestic economy of those who raised them. The bas-reliefs are mostly public records of conquests, triumphs, and great religious ceremonies. As they were placed in palaces and temples, they could, of course, but refer to national events; no others being worthy of so conspicuous a position. If any memorial of the private life of an individual were preserved, or if his peculiar profession or trade were indicated, it must have been in his own dwelling or in his tomb, as in Egypt. Hitherto only the public buildings of Assyria have been discovered, and we have consequently only the public records. If the interiors of houses and the occupations of their inmates, are represented in the bas-reliefs, they are casually introduced, to illustrate or to convey more fully the meaning of the general subject. Thus within the walls of castles belonging to the Assyrians, or captured by them, are seen buildings and tents. The inhabitants are slaying sheep, and engaged in domestic occupations, seated and conversing together, feeding their horses, and preparing their couches. But these details are all made subservient to the main action, which is the siege or triumph.1

With such scanty materials at our command, we can scarcely venture to form any conjecture as to the manners and private life of the Assyrians. The subject must be deferred until further discoveries have supplied us with additional information.

From casual notices in the Bible and in ancient history, we learn that the Assyrians, as well as those who succeeded them in the empire of Asia, were fond of public entertainments and festivities, and that they displayed on such occasions the greatest luxury and magnificence. The Assyrian king, called Nabuchodonosor in the book of Judith, on returning from his victorious expedition against Arphaxad, feasted with his whole army for one hundred and twenty days. The same is related by the Greek authors of Sardanapalus, after his great victory over the combined armies of the Medes. The book of Esther describes the splendour of the festivals given by the Babylonian king. The princes and nobles of his vast dominions were feasted for one hundred and eighty days; and for one week all the people of Susa assembled in the gardens of his palace, and were served in vessels of gold. The richest tapestries adorned the halls and tents, and the most costly couches were prepared for the guests.2 Wine was served in abundance, and women, including even the wives and concubines of the monarch, were frequently present to add to the magnificence of the scene. According to Quintus Curtius, not only did hired female performers exhibit on these occasions, but the wives and daughters of the nobles, forgetting their modesty, danced before the guests, divesting themselves even of their garments,3 Wine was drunk immoderately. When Babylon was taken by the Persians, the inhabitants were celebrating one of their great festivals, and even the guards were intoxicated.4 The Babylonian king, ignorant of the approaching fate of his capital, and surrounded by one thousand of his princes and nobles, and by his wives and concubines, drank out of the golden vessels that had been carried away from the Jewish temple.5 On the walls of the palace at Khorsabad was a bas-relief representing a public feast, probably in celebration of a victory. Men were seen seated on high chairs with drinking-cups in their hands; whilst attendants were bringing in bowls, goblets, and various fruits and viands, for the banquet. At Mmroud part of a similar bas-relief was discovered.

Music was not wanting on these occasions. It is probable that the Assyrians, like the Egyptians, had various musical instruments: only one kind, however, is represented in the sculptures. It is in the shape of a triangle, is held between the left arm and the side, and appears to have been suspended from the neck. The strings, nine or ten in number, are stretched between a flat board and an upright bar, through which they pass. Tassels are appended to the ends of the strings, and the bar itself is generally surmounted by a small hand, probably of metal or ivory. The instrument was struck with a plectrum held in the right hand: the left appears to have been used either to pull the strings, or to produce notes by pressure. Like the Egyptian harp, it had no cross-piece between the upright bar and the flat board or base; it is difficult, therefore, to understand how the strings could have been sufficiently tightened to produce notes.6

In describing the dress of the Assyrians, I have had occasion to allude to their skill in the manufacture of linen and woollen stuffs, which were dyed, and embroidered not only with a variety of beautiful ornaments, but with groups of human figures and animals. Of all Asiatic nations, the Babylonians were most noted for the weaving of cloth of divers colours. In these stuffs gold threads were introduced into the woof of many hues.7 Amongst those who traded in "blue clothes and embroidered work" with Tyre, were the merchants of Asshur or Assyria8; and that the garments of Babylon were brought into Syria, and greatly esteemed at a very early period, we learn from their being classed amongst the most precious articles of spoil, even with gold, in the time of Joshua.9 They formed, perhaps, "the dyed attire and embroidered work" so frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as the garments of princes, and the most costly gifts of kings. The ornaments and figures upon them may either have been dyed, worked in the loom, or embroidered with the needle, like "the prey of divers colours of needle-work, of divers colours of needlework on both sides."10

The cotton manufactures of Babylon were as remarkable for brilliancy of colour as fineness of texture, and Pliny attributes the invention of cotton weaving to Semiramis.11 The silken robes of Assyria were equally esteemed. The looms of Babylon maintained their celebrity long after the fall of the Assyrian empire — even to the time of the Roman supremacy.12

The carpets of Babylon were no less prized than her other manufactures. Like the Assyrian robes, they appear to have been embroidered with figures of animals and flowers. A purple carpet covered the tomb of Cyrus; and on the bed upon which the body was placed, were Babylonian garments, carpets, and purple drapery.13

These manufactures probably formed one of the principal branches of trade of " this land of traffic and city of merchants."14 The Babylonians and Assyrians carried on a considerable commerce with India; and the costly produce of that peninsula was conveyed through the Babylonian territories to the most distant regions of Syria, from whence it was diffused over western Europe and Asia Minor.15

The Assyrians were no less celebrated for their skill in working metals than for their embroideries.16 Their mountains furnished a variety of minerals — silver, iron, copper, and lead, and perhaps even gold. Iron, the most useful of all metals, was the one which most abounded, and which could be most easily procured, as soon as the process of extracting it from the ore was known. I have observed that it is found in great quantities scattered on the sides of mountains, three or four days' journey from Mosul,17 Amongst the objects of tribute enumerated in the statistical tablet of Karnak, iron is mentioned as brought to the Egyptians almost exclusively by the inhabitants either of Assyria Proper, or of the countries immediately adjacent — by the Tahai, the Rutennu, and the Asi. It was generally exported in the form of bricks or pigs, but also occasionally in the ore. The same nations, particularly the Tahai, offered gold, silver, tin(?), copper, brass, lead, and antimony (?). These metals were not only brought in the rough state, or, if gold and silver, in rings, but even manufactured into vases of beautiful form. Mr. Birch remarks: "The silver vases of the Tahai are a remarkable tribute, as they show an excellence in working metals among these people; indeed, the art of toreutic work in Asia influenced so largely even the Greek world at a later period, as to rival and gradually supersede the fictile painted vases of the Greeks."18 And he then mentions " the offerings of vases of gold and silver, with handles, and feet, and covers in the shape of animals, such as the bull and gazelle (or? wild goat), kneeling Asiatics, the heads of lions, goats, and even of the god Baal." All these are pure Assyrian emblems. The vase in the form of a lion's head, probably similar to that represented in the sculptures of Khorsabad19, is particularly alluded to amongst the offerings of the Tahai. The tribute obtained by the Egyptians from Naharaina, or Mesopotamia, consisted of vases of gold, silver, and copper, and precious stones; and vases of gold, silver, and brass were the presents brought by the prince of northern Syria to David.20

Gold is not now, I believe, known to exist in the mountains of Kurdistan. As, both according to sacred and profane authors, it was collected in such extraordinary quantities in Nineveh and Babylon, and as it is generally included in the Egyptian inscriptions amongst metals brought from that part of Asia, it is to be presumed that mines of it were once worked within the Assyrian dominions.21 It was used by the Assyrians, as I have already mentioned, in their architectural ornaments, bricks and tiles of gold and silver being even placed in the exterior walls of their palaces.22 That they were at a very early period acquainted with the art of gilding is proved by the remains of very thin gold leaf, found not only on the ivories and on bricks, but even under the great throne or altar in the north-west palace, where it must have been deposited during the building of the edifice.23

Silver is found in the mountains of Kurdistan, and mines of it are still worked by the Turkish government near the frontiers of ancient Assyria, and in Armenia. It is very probable that others exist in a country whose mineral riches have not been explored.

Although the precious metals were known at a very early period, even Abraham, a dweller in tents, being rich in gold and silver24, no coins have been discovered amongst Assyrian ruins, nor Is there anything in the sculptures to show that the Assyrians were acquainted with money, as in Egypt. Metals in their rough state, or in bars or rings, may have been passed by weight, or, if precious, in ring-ingots, or as gold dust, in exchange for merchandise, and in other transactions, but not as stamped coins or tokens,25 It is remarkable, that no coin has yet been discovered in Egyptian ruins.26

Copper mines, worked at a very remote period, probably by the Assyrians themselves, still exist in the mountains within the confines of Assyria.27 This metal appears to have been extensively used by the Assyrians, both for ornaments, and in the construction of weapons and tools. It was inlaid into their iron helmets, and formed part of their armour. Daggers and the heads of arrows were frequently made of it, mixed, it would appear, with a certain quantity of iron, and hardened, as in Egypt, by an alloy of tin. The tools of the sculptor were probably of some such combination; but as the Egyptians appear to have been acquainted, at a very early period, with steel, and to have used it, as well as bronze, in sculpturing stone, marble, and granite, it may be inferred that the Assyrians were not ignorant of this useful form of iron. The soft limestone of their monuments would not, however, like the granite of Egypt, require a very highly tempered instrument. But the black basalt is hard, offering considerable resistance to the tools of the sculptor; and we find that the Assyrian statues in this material are less carefully finished than the bas-reliefs of alabaster.

Antimony is, I believe, found in the Kurdish mountains; but I am not aware of the existence of tin in any part of Assyria. Still the Assyrians and the adjoining nations must have obtained this metal from their own dominions, or from some country to the east of them, as it is mentioned amongst the objects of tribute brought to the Egyptians from that part of Asia. It would scarcely have been procured, merely for the purpose of an offering, from the Phoenicians, who were so much nearer Egypt.

The Assyrians were equally skilled in working and casting metals. Amongst the copper figures from Nimroud, I must particularly mention the lions in solid metal found under the fallen bull in the great hall, which are of great beauty, almost rivalling the bronzes of Greece; and three hollow lions' paws, which apparently formed the feet of a throne or couch.

I have already had occasion to speak of their dexterity in carving ivory, and have described the beautiful ornaments in that material discovered at Nimroud. Although the elephant was not an inhabitant of Assyria, but was probably brought from India, its tusks appear to have been an article of trade between the Assyrians and the nations to the westward. The workmen, too, of Assyria were employed by foreign nations as carvers in ivory; and we find the company of the Ashurites or Assyrians, making the benches of that material in the Tyrian galleys.28 The Assyrians had already extensively used it in the construction of their palaces; and it was from them, perhaps, that the Jews adopted it in the decoration of their palaces and furniture.29 The human head and limbs carved in ivory, discovered at Nimroud, probably belonged to an entire figure, the body of which may have been of wood or metal, like the Chryselephantine statues of the Greeks, which were of wood inlaid with gold and ivory. The Assyrians were acquainted with the art of inlaying. Blue opaque glass and other substances of various colours are let into the ivory tablets from Nimroud.

They had also acquired the art of making glass.30 Several small bottles or vases of elegant shape, in this material, were found at Nimroud and Kouytinjik. One bears the name of the Khorsabad king; and to none of the specimens discovered can we with certainty attribute a higher antiquity than the time of that monarch; although some fragments in the shape of a dagger from a hall of the most ancient palace of Nimroud may possibly be more ancient. The gems and cylinders still frequently found in ruins prove that the Assyrians were very skilful in engraving on stone. Many of their seals are most delicately and minutely ornamented with various sacred devices and with the forms of animals. Those of the Babylonians are mentioned by Herodotus, who also describes the heads of the walking-sticks in the shape of an apple, a rose, a lily, or an eagle,31 These ornaments were probably carved in ivory or in precious stones.

Herodotus alludes to the extreme fertility of Assyria, and to its rich harvests of corn, the seed producing, according to his account, two or three hundredfold. The blades of wheat and barley grew to full four fingers in breadth; and, such was the general richness of Babylonia, that it supplied the Persian king and his vast army with subsistence for four months in the year, whilst the rest of the Persian dominions furnished provisions for the other eight.32 This, it must be remembered, was when the country had lost its independence, and had been reduced to a mere province. I have already described the mode of irrigation by artificial canals derived from the Tigris and Euphrates, intersecting the whole of the lower part of Mesopotamia, and the country in the neighbourhood of the rivers in the upper,33 The Assyrians also used machines for raising water from the river, or from the canals, when it could not be led into the fields through common conduits. They were generally obliged to have recourse to this artificial mode of irrigation, as the banks of the rivers, and consequently those of the canals, were high above the level of the water, except during the spring. At that season of the year the streams, swollen by the melting of the snows in the Armenian hills, or by violent rains, overflowed their beds.

The only representation of an agricultural instrument yet found in Assyria or Babylonia is that of a plough, on a black stone from the ruins opposite Mosul.34 From the form of the arrow-headed characters in the inscription, this appears to be a Babylonian relic. The plough somewhat resembles in shape that now in common use. On the same tablet is an altar or low building, before which stands a priest, apparently performing some religious ceremony; near him are the sacred tree, a bull, n heap of corn or a hill, a palm-tree, and a square instrument with a small circle or wheel at each corner, the nature of which I am unable to determine.

Sesame, millet, and corn, formed anciently, as they still do, the principal agricultural produce of Assyria. Herodotus, who had visited this fruitful country, says that he dares not mention the height to which the sesame and millet grew.35 The only oil used in the country, according to the historian, was extracted from sesame; and such is now the case, although the olive tree is cultivated at the foot of the Kurdish hills.

The palm-tree, whilst growing in the greatest abundance within the ancient limits of the Assyrian empire, does not now produce fruit further north than the junction of the Lesser Zab with the Tigris. It is not, indeed, found on the banks of the latter river more than sixty miles above Baghdad; but this is chiefly owing to the absence of cultivation and settled habitations. It is raised inland as far north as the small town of Taza Kunnali, which takes its name, " the place of fresh dates," from the ripe fruit being there first met with on the road from Constantinople. A line drawn due west from this place to the Mediterranean would, I think, give the limits of the growth of the fruit-producing palm. The unproductive tree will grow and will attain a considerable size much further north, even on the southern coast of Asia Minor, and in the south of Italy and Dalmatia. That the fruit was exported in large quantities from the Babylonian plains, as it now is, as an article of commerce, may be inferred from palm-wine, or spirits extracted from the date, being mentioned by Herodotus as the principal cargo brought by rafts to Babylon from Armenia. We find, also, what is probably palm-wine included in the statistical table of Karnak amongst the tribute offered to the Egyptians by the Tahai.

As lofty mountains rise abruptly from the plains, opposite degrees of temperature mark the climate of Assyria. The soil being naturally rich, its produce is consequently as varied as plentiful. The plains watered by the rivers are parched by a heat almost rivalling that of the torrid zone. Aromatic herbs, yielding perfumes celebrated by the poets, indigo, opium, and the sugar-cane36, besides corn and grain of various kinds, and cotton and flax in abundance, were raised in this region. In the cooler temperature of the hills, the mulberry afforded sustenance to the silk-worm37, and many kinds of fruit-trees flourished in the valleys. When Herodotus says that the Assyrians did not cultivate the vine, the olive, or the fig, he must allude to the inhabitants of the plains. The vine is represented in the sculptures; and that the Assyrians not only enjoyed the various luxuries which those trees afford, but possessed the trees themselves, we learn from their own general, Rabshakeh, who described his country to the Jews as a "land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive-oil and of honey."38 Amongst the objects of tribute brought to the Egyptians from the Tahai, and from Naharaina, are corn, bread, palm-wine, wine, honey, incense, and conserve of dates.39

The domestic animals of the ancient Assyrians were probably such as are still found in the country. On the monuments are seen sheep, goats, oxen, horses, mules, and camels. In a bas-relief from the centre of the Nimroud mound, there appeared to be the figure of a dog standing near a tent; but the sculpture was much injured. I have not found any other representation of this useful domestic animal, although hunting scenes were portrayed on the walls of Khorsabad; and we learn from Herodotus40 that during the Persian occupation, the number of Indian dogs kept in the province of Babylon for the use of the governor was so great, that four cities were exempted from taxes for maintaining them. Neither is the ass represented in the sculptures; although Herodotus mentions it amongst the domestic animals of the country, and Xenophon amongst the wild.41 The mules of the Kouyunjik bas-reliefs appear to belong to a conquered people; in a procession of captives, women are seen riding on them, and they carry the spoil. They are correctly delineated, and may at once be distinguished from the horse.

The sheep represented in the bas-reliefs are of two kinds. One has a large broad tail, and is still found in the country. The tail of the other is smaller. As they are amongst the spoil, and consequently belonged to the enemies of the Assyrians, they may be the sheep of Arabia which excited the wonder of Herodotus. " One," says he, " has a large tail, not less than three cubits in length, which, if suffered to trail, would ulcerate. The shepherds, therefore, make little carts to support it. The other has a tail nearly a cubit in breadth."42

The goats have long spiral horns. The oxen are evidently of two kinds, one distinguished by horns curved towards the back of the head, the other having horns projecting in front. It is possible that this distinction marks the buffalo and common ox. Of the Assyrian horses I have already had occasion to speak. Although the form of the camel is somewhat exaggerated, the character of the animal is faithfully portrayed. On the obelisk is the two-humped or Bactrian camel; but it evidently came from afar, and was not a native of Assyria Proper. The one-humped camel, as it has been seen, was ridden, even in war, by a people conquered by the Assyrians; and as a woman is represented mounted upon one, it may be conjectured that it was commonly used as a beast of burden. When brought as tribute, collars and ornaments, probably of dyed wool, were hung round its neck.43 When mounted, it appears to have been guided by a simple halter or head-stall, passing round the centre of the head, like that of the modern Arab.44

The wild animals represented in the sculptures are either natives of Assyria, or of foreign countries. Amongst the former we have the lion, the wild bull, the stag, the gazelle, the ibex, and the hare.

The lion, as I have observed45, is now rarely found on the banks of the Tigris as far north as Mosul, or even above Baghdad. That it was originally an in^ habitant of the country, there can be no doubt. From the earliest period it was considered the noblest of game, and was included amongst the wild beasts preserved in the paradises, or parks, attached to the royal palaces. On the monuments of Nineveh, the triumphs of the king over this formidable animal are deemed no less worthy of record than his victories over his enemies. History and tradition, too, have celebrated the prowess of Ninus and Semiramis in their encounters with the lion; and paintings, representing these feats, adorned the palaces of Babylon. The Assyrian sculptor evidently delighted in such subjects, in which, indeed, his skill could be eminently displayed. He had carefully studied the animal, and whilst he excelled in the delineation of its form, he portrayed its action and expression with wonderful spirit, faithfully preserving the character of the animal, when springing with fury upon its assailant, or dying, pierced with arrows, at his feet.46

The lion of the sculptures is furnished with a long and bushy mane. It has been doubted whether the animal which still inhabits the country has this noble appendage; but I have seen more than one on the banks of the Karoon provided with it. There is a peculiarity in the Asiatic lion which has not escaped the notice of the sculptor — the claw at the extremity of the tail. This claw was not unknown to ancient naturalists. The first mention of it is found, I believe, in the Commentary of Didymus of Alexandria on the Iliad. In modern times its existence was denied, and has only been established within a few years. It is still, I believe, considered to be a mere casual excrescence, and is not met with in all specimens of the animal.47

The wild bull, from its frequent representation in the bas-reliefs, appears to have been considered scarcely less formidable and noble game than the lion. The king is frequently seen contending with it, and warriors pursue it both on horseback and on foot. In the embroideries on the garments of the principal figures it is introduced, both in hunting scenes and in groups, which appear to have a mythic or symbolical meaning. I was at one time inclined to think that the bull of the sculptures might represent the unicorn or raim so often alluded to in the Scriptures, as an animal renowned for its strength and ferocity, and typical of power and might,48 But the unicorn of the Scriptures is now, I believe, generally identified with a large and fierce antelope, or oryx, inhabiting Arabia and Egypt. Professor Migliarini of Florence informs me that the word raim itself occurs in hieroglyphics over a figure of this antelope, in an Egyptian sculpture; and he conjectures that the Jews derived a knowledge of the animal, as well as its name, from the Egyptians. The bull of the bas-reliefs of Nimroud is evidently a wild animal, which inhabited Mesopotamia or Assyria. Its form is too faithfully delineated to permit of the supposition that it is an antelope. It is distinguished from the domestic ox by a number of small marks covering the body, and probably intended to denote long and shaggy hair. It is represented with one horn, as the horses have frequently only two legs or one ear, because the Assyrian sculptor did not attempt to give both in a side view of the animal.

As mention is also made in the Bible of the wild ox49, it is probable that at some ancient period this animal was an inhabitant of Assyria, or of the adjacent countries, although it has long since become extinct. Had it been found in the plains of Mesopotamia in the time of Xenophon, he would probably have described it when speaking of the animals of that province. As it is only seen in the oldest monuments of Nirnroud, and not in those of Khorsabad or Kouyunjik, it is possible that, when the country became more thickly peopled in the latter period of the Assyrian empire, the wild ox disappeared.

On the walls of Khorsabad was represented a hunting scene, in which hares and partridges were introduced as objects of the chase. Both still abound in the country.

The ibex, or wild goat, is an inhabitant of the mountains of Kurdistan.50 The stag is found in the forests, and the plains are covered with innumerable flocks of gazelles. More than one species of wild sheep, only recently known to European naturalists, haunt the higher ranges of the Assyrian mountains. Several of these animals are portrayed in the sculptures. The ibex was evidently a sacred animal, as it is carried by the winged figures, and is frequently introduced as an ornament.51 A stag, also borne by a winged priest or divinity, was spotted like the fallow deer of our parks.

The frequent representation of hunting scenes in the Assyrian sculptures is a proof of the high estimation in which the chase was held by the people. A conqueror and the founder of an empire was, at the same time, a great hunter. His courage, wisdom, and dexterity were as much shown in encounters with wild beasts as in martial exploits; he rendered equal services to his subjects whether he cleared the country of wild beasts or repulsed an enemy. The scriptural Nimrod, who laid the foundation of the Assyrian empire, was "a mighty hunter before the Lord;" and the Ninus of history and tradition, the builder of Nineveh, and the greatest of the Assyrian kings, was as renowned for his encounters with the lion and leopard, as for his triumphs over warlike nations. We have seen that the Babylonians, as well as the Assyrians, ornamented the walls of their temples and palaces with pictures and sculptures representing the chase; and that similar subjects were introduced, even in the embroideries on their garments.52 The Assyrians were probably also the inventors of the parks, or paradises, which were afterwards maintained with so much sumptuousness by the Persian kings, of the Acluemenian and Sassanian dynasties,53 In these spacious preserves various kinds of wild animals were continually kept for the diversion of the king, and for those who were privileged to join with him in the chase. They contained lions, tigers, wild boars, antelopes, and many varieties of birds. As amongst the Persians, the Assyrian youths were probably trained to hunting at an early age. Xenophon gives an interesting account of the hunting expeditions of the Persians in the time of Cyrus. The king was accompanied by half his guard, each man being furnished with a bow, quiver, sword, shield, and two javelins — armed, indeed, as if he were going to war. That such was also the practice amongst the Assyrians is shown by the Nimroud bas-reliefs, in which the king is always represented as accompanied in the chase by warriors fully equipped; hunting being, as Xenophon declares, the truest method of practising all such things as relate to war.54

On the obelisk, as I have already mentioned, are representations of several animals, evidently brought from distant countries, and presented to the Assyrian king as objects of tribute. The presence of the two-humped camel proves that they came from the East, and not from Africa. This animal is a native of Bactria, or of the great steppes inhabited by the Tatar tribes. It is unknown to the Arabs, and is rarely seen to the west of Persia, except amongst a few isolated families of Turcomans, who now reside in the north of Syria, and who probably brought this beast of burden from the northeast, when they first emigrated.

The small ears of the elephant, on the same obelisk, show that the animal is of the Indian, and not the African species,55

On Egyptian monuments, the elephant is seen, amongst other animals, brought as tribute by an Asiatic, though not an Indian, people.56 It was probably obtained by them from the eastward; for there is no record of the elephant being indigenous in any part of Asia west of the Indus. Although it appeared in the Persian armies, and might even have been pastured long previously in the rich plains of Mesopotamia, it originally came from the Indian dominions of the great king. Had it been used in war by the Assyrians, it would doubtless have been so represented in the sculptures,57

The presence of the rhinoceros on the obelisk further points to the Indian origin of the accompanying animals. It is in several respects incorrectly delineated, the sculptor having given it hoofs, a mane on the neck, and long hair, which appears to have been artificially curled like that of the sacred bull. Still the general form of the animal, and the shape and position of the horn, clearly identify it with the Indian rhinoceros.58 Specimens of this animal were probably rare in Assyria, and the sculptor may have drawn it from recollection or only from the description of those who had seen it. This is the earliest representation of the rhinoceros with which we are acquainted.

The two animals accompanying the rhinoceros are probably an Indian bull, and a kind of antelope. The bull has a r collar, ornamented with tassels, round its neck, and may have been a sacred animal. The antelope, from its size and the shape of its horns, may perhaps be identified with the Indian chikara59; although the thickness of the limbs rather denotes a species of wild goat.

The sculptor has evidently indicated, by certain peculiarities, four distinct species of monkeys or apes. Immediately behind the elephant is a man leading a large monkey without a tail, which, if from India, can only be identified with the ourari outan, no other monkey found in that country being so distinguished.60 A man follows with two smaller monkeys, one raising itself on its hind legs, the other sitting on the shoulders of its keeper. These may be the hounuman61, a monkey regarded with some degree of religious veneration by the Indians, and frequently domesticated by them. They appear to be of the same species as those represented in the large bas-relief from the north-west palace of Nimroud62, which are covered with small spots, probably to denote long hair.

In a separate group are two monkeys or apes, whose strength and ferocity are indicated by thick chains passed round their bodies, and held by keepers. The first raises a fore-paw to its mouth; and wears a necklace of beads. It may be the bruh63, the largest of the Indian monkey tribe; and it is not altogether unlike that animal in shape. In the bas-relief it is even larger than the man; but the sculptor probably exaggerated its size. The other monkey is distinguished from the rest by a hood or mane rising above the head and falling over the shoulders. This peculiarity may identify it with the wanderoo, or maned ape of India,64

The only birds represented on the Assyrian monuments hitherto discovered, are the eagle or vulture, the ostrich and the partridge, and a few smaller birds at Khorsabad, whose forms are too conventional to permit of any conjecture as to their species.

The vulture or eagle — for the bird is rarely delineated with sufficient accuracy to enable us to decide which — is continually seen over the heads of the conquerors in battle, and in triumphal processions, and was probably considered typical of victory. It is also represented feeding on the bodies of the slain, and flying away with the entrails.65

The ostrich was only found as an ornament on the robes of figures in the most ancient edifice at Nimroud. As it is accompanied by the emblematical flower, and is frequently introduced on BabyIonian and Assyrian cylinders, we may infer that it was a sacred bird.

In sea and river scenes fish and shells are introduced, but the forms appear to be conventional; there are no distinctions to mark any particular species.66 In the rivers are seen crabs, eels or water-snakes, and small turtles. When the sculptor wished to indicate the sea, he made these fish larger, and added others, which are only inhabitants of salt water, such as the star-fish. A kind of crocodile is also represented in the sea-pieces.67

With the exception of the vine, palm, and fir, the trees of the Assyrian bas-reliefs are conventional in their forms. The sculptor introduced them merely to show the nature of the country in which the events recorded took place. In general, the Assyrian artist appears to have been far less minute and exact in delineating secondary objects than the Egyptian, who as carefully preserved the character of the details, as he did that of the principal figures in his subject.



1) In the Assyrian sculptures attendants are frequently introduced carrying vessels and skins, probably containing provisions. It may be observed that the skins are tied precisely as at this day — the two extremities being fastened by the opposite ends of one string.

2) Esther, i.; Daniel, v.

3) That it was subsequently the custom of the Persians to introduce their wives and concubines at their public banquets, is shown by the anecdote of Amyntas and the Persian ambassadors, related by Herodotus. (Lib. v. c. 18.)

4) Xenophon, Cyrop. vii. 5.; Herod. 1. i. c. 101.

5) Daniel, v. 2.

6) There is a representation of this musical instrument in the bas-relief of the king standing over the crouching lion, now in the British Museum. There are also several examples of it in my "Monuments of Nineveh." The god which Mr. Birch now conjectures to be Baal (Gallery, fig. 80.), is represented at Talmis playing on a triangular lyre. (Rosellini, M.C., Teste, torn. iii. p. 19. tav. ann.)

7) Pliny, viii. 48.

8) Ezekiel, xxvii. 24.

9) Joshua, vii. 21. Achan confesses to Joshua that "when he saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, he coveted, and took them."

10) Judges, v. 30.

11) C. vii. p. 417.

12) According to Plutarch, Cato, receiving as a legacy a Babylonish garment, sold it, because too costly for a citizen to wear. Arech, on the Euphrates, was long celebrated for its looms. Some Babylonian curtains and draperies were sold, according to Pliny, for nearly 7000 l.

13) Arrian, vi. 29. The carpets of Babylon, worked with wonderful animals, are described by Athenaeus, v. p. 197. From Persia they passed into Greece. (Æschyl. Agam. 1. 898, 899. 913. 925.; Aristophanes, Ranae, 1. 935.; Aristot. Phys. Ausc. iv.; Menander, apud. Athen. xi. p. 484. 500.) The Parthians appear to have preserved the art of these manufactures (Pliny, 1. viii. c. 73.), for which the modern Persians and the inhabitants of the "Kurdish mountains are still eminently distinguished.

14) Ezekiel, xvii. 4.

15) Heeren has fully and ably described the nature and extent of the commerce of the Babylonians in his Essays on the Policy and Commerce of the Ancients. The commercial route from India to Syria was first to the Sabsei and Dedan on the southern and eastern coast of Arabia. (Isaiah, Ix. 6.; Ezekiel, xxvii. 15. and 20.) It then passed through the Gerrhæi. (Diod. iii. 41.; Strabo, xv.) North of the Dedan, the route lay through Thema (Isaiah, xxi. 14.; Job, vi. 19.; Jeremiah, xxv. 23., xlix. 7, 8.; Ezekiel, xxv. 13.); from thence to the land of Kedar. (Isaiah, Ix. 7.)

16) It was the custom of the Babylonians, as we learn from Jeremiah, xxiv. 1., to carry away the smiths and carpenters of a conquered nation. It is probable, therefore, that whilst the Assyrians themselves were skilful in various arts, they had also collected together during their conquests expert workmen from all parts of Asia.

17) Vol. I. p. 223.

18) Observations on the Statistical Tablet of Karnak, p. 33.

19) See woodcut, p. 303.

20) 2 Samuel, viii. 10., and 1 Chron. xviii. 10.

21) Sardanapalus is said to have placed one hundred and fifty golden beds, and as many tables of the same metal, on his funeral pile, besides gold and silver vases and ornaments in enormous quantities, and purple and many coloured raiments. (Athenaeus, lib. xii.) When Nineveh was taken, it contained, according to some absurd traditions, 25,000,000,000/. sterling in gold! The spoiler might well have exclaimed, " Take ye the gold, take ye the silver — the riches of Nineveh are inexhaustible — her vases and precious furniture are infinite." (Nahum, ii. 9.) That this precious metal, however, was most plentiful, we can scarcely doubt. The statue of solid gold raised by Nebuchadnezzar in the plain of Dura was threescore cubits high, and six cubits broad. (Daniel, iii. 1.) Herodotus and Diodorus describe the statues of this metal in the temple of Belus, at Babylon. The base of the table, the seat of the throne, and an altar on which sacrifices were offered, were all of the purest gold. Xerxes carried away the golden statue of the god, twelve cubits in height, which his father Darius had not ventured to seize. (Herod. 1. i. c. 183.) According to Diodorus, the value of the gold taken from the temple of Bolus alone by Xerxes amounted to above 7350 Attic talents, or 21,000,000 l. sterling money!

22) Thus the walls of Ecbatana were partly plated with gold and silver, (Herod. 1. i. c. 98.)

23) Gold and silver "spread into plates" are mentioned in Jeremiah amongst the objects of trade brought from Uphaz and Tarshish (ch. x. ver. 9.); and Solomon's throne was partly overlaid with gold; as was also the inside of his temple. (1 Kings, vi. 22. and x. 18.)

24) Genesis, xiii. 2.

25) The money mentioned in the Bible is always passed by weight. (Genesis, xliii. 21.)

26) The earliest mention in authentic history of a coin current in the Persian dominions is in Herod, lib. iv. c. 166.; the same author declaring (lib. i. c. 94.) that the Lydians were the first people who coined money. It was issued by Darius Hystaspes, and called after him " the Daric." It was long afterwards celebrated for its purity, and gave its name to all gold pieces subsequently coined in Persia, even by kings of the Macedonian race.

27) Vol. I. p. 223.

28) Ezekiel, xxvii. 6. It is possible that some tribe, and not the Assyrians, is meant. Mr. Birch conjectures that the Phoenicians, who appear to have supplied the Greeks with ivory ornaments at a very early period, may have chiefly derived the elephant's tusk from an indirect communication with India and Bactria through Assyria.

29) Ahab had an ivory house. (1 Kings, xxii. 39.) Ivory palaces are mentioned in Psalm xlv. 8. And compare Amos, iii. 15. Solomon made a throne of ivory. (1 Kings, x. 18.) Beds of ivory are spoken of in Amos (vi. 4.). Mr. Birch has collected, in his Memoir on the Nimroud Ivories (Trans, of R. Soc. of Lit., New Series), various instances of the early use of ivory amongst the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Greeks.

30) Pliny attributes the invention of glass to the Phoenicians,

31) L. i c. 195.

32) Herod. 1. i. c. 192.

33) Vo1- L. p. 353

34) Now in the possession of the Earl of Aberdeen.

35) Lib. i. c. 193.

36) Indigo and opium are still cultivated to the south of Baghdad. The sugar-canes, which, in the time of the Persian kings, covered the banks of the rivers of Susiana, have now disappeared; and this plant is no longer cultivated to any extent to the east of the Euphrates.

37) Pliny particularly mentions silk amongst the produce of Assyria. (Lib. ii. c. 25.)

38) 2 Kings, xviii. 32.

39) In the hieratic papyri (Select Papyri, pi. xcvi. 15.), a drink called nekfitaru or nekftar, a word which resembles the celebrated nectar, is said to come from Saenkar, or Sinjar; it is mentioned with other liquids or cosmetics from the Arusa, the Khita, the Amaur, the Tachisa, and Nalmraina

40) Lib. i. c. 192. The dog is occasionally represented on cylinders.

41) Chariots drawn by asses are mentioned in Isaiah (xxi. 7.).

42) Lib. iii. c. 113. This broad tail is the אַלְיָח mentioned in Leviticus, iii. 9., vii. 3. &c., translated "the rump" in our version. The sheep is the ovis laticaudia, Linn. (Gesenius, Heb. Diet.)

43) The chains and ornaments, like those worn on the camels' necks, are mentioned in Judges, viii. 21. and 26.

44) That camels formed a principal part of the flocks of the people anciently inhabiting Assyria and Chalda2a, we have ample proof in the Bible (Genesis, xxiv. 19.); they were possessed by Abraham (Genesis xii. 16.), and by Jacob (Genesis, xxx. 43.); they were used as beasts of burden (Genesis, xxxi. 34., and 1 Samuel, xxx. 17.); also, as to this day, by couriers and for posts (Esther, viii. 10. and 14.). This fleet dromedary was not a distinct animal, but probably a camel specially trained, as the hejin of the modern Arabs. I have travelled on those used in the Arabian desert, and their speed and powers of endurance are both equally surprising. Herodotus mentions that the camels used by a certain tribe of Indians were as swift as horses. (Lib. iii. v. 102.) That camels were even sometimes harnessed in chariots may, perhaps, be inferred from Isaiah, xxi. 7. The earliest mention of the camel in Egyptian monuments is in the time of the nineteenth dynasty. It is not represented on any monument hitherto discovered.

45) P. 48.

46) The skill of the Assyrian sculptor in delincating the lion, is particularly shown in the bas relief in the British Museum. The lion is not represented in the Assyrian, as in the Egyptian, sculptures, tamed and following the king, or trained to the chase.

47) Proceedings of the Council of the Zoological Society for 1832, p. 146. Captain W. Smee, in a paper on the Maueless Lion of Guzerat (Trans, of the Zool. Soc. vol. i. p. 169.) observes, " in this tuft (of the tail) there existed, subsequently to its arrival in England, in the oldest of my lions, a short horny claw or nail, similar in form to, but somewhat larger in size, than the one described by Mr. Woods."

48) Gesenius (Lex. in voce) gives the signification of wild buffalo to the ראם, — the monoceros, rhinoceros, and unicornis of the Septuagint.

49) Deut. xiv. 5. The wild ox is included amongst the animals whose flesh may be eaten by the Jews; and the "wild bull in a net" is also alluded to in Isaiah, li. 20. The Hebrew word is rendered "wild bull" in the Targums, and "oryx" (ὖρυε) in the Vulgate; some, however, believe the animal meant, to be a kind of antelope. (Gesenius, Lex. in voce.)

50) It is possible that the animal I have assumed to be the ibex is sometimes the gazelle.

51) See p. 296. of this volume.

52) Ammianus Marcell. lib. xxvi. c. 6.; Diod. Siculus, lib. ii.; Athen. lib. xii. c. 9. %.

53) Xenopbon, Cyr. lib. i. c. 3.; Quint. Curt, lib.vii. andviii. These paradises were stocked, not only with game of every kind, but with various trees, shrubs, and plants; and were watered by numerous artificial streams. The Persian word has passed into various languages, and is used for the first abode of man before his fall, as well as for the state of eternal happiness.

54) Cyrop. lib. i. c. 2.

55) Elephas Indicus.

56) Sir Gardner Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, vol. v. p. 176.; vol. i. pi. 5v.

57) The elephant has not been found represented as a beast of bunk-n on the monuments of Egypt. The only African nation who appear to have used it in their wars were the Carthaginians.

58) Rhinoceros unicornis.

59) Antelope Bennettii. I had once conjectured it to be the nylgau of the Indian peninsula.

60) The only other monkey without a tail, is, I believe, the chimpanzee of Africa.

61) Simia Entellus.

62) Vol. I. p. 126. An engraving of this bas-relief is included in my "Monuments of Nineveh."

63) Simia Nemestrinus.

64) Simla Silenus.

65) See woodcut, p. 340.

66) See woodcuts, p. 273. and 395.

67) In the hieratic papyri certain fish are mentioned as brought from the Puharuta, or Euphrates, to Egypt (Select Papyri, pi. Lxxv. 1. 7.), and another fish, or fishy substance, called " Rura," as coming from the land of the great waters, Mesopotamia. (Ibid. xcvi. 1. 7.) In the same papyrus (Ibid, xcviii. 1. 8.) are mentioned horses (htar) and fine cattle from the Saenkar, or Sinjar.