Nineveh and Its Remains

Volume 2

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

Part 2 - Chapter 7



A GENERAL inquiry into the nature of the worship of the Assyrians would be beyond the scope of these volumes. I will merely point out how far their religious system is illustrated by the newly discovered monuments, and what information, when better understood, they are likely to furnish on the subject. As I have more than once had occasion to observe, a marked distinction may be traced between the religion of the earliest and latest Assyrians. It is probable that corruptions gradually crept into their theology. Originally it was a pure Sabasanism, in which the heavenly bodies were worshipped as mere types of the power and attributes of the supreme deity. Of the great antiquity of this primitive worship, there is abundant evidence; and that it originated amongst the inhabitants of the Assyrian plains, we have the united testimony of sacred and profane history. It obtained the epithet of perfect, and was believed to be the most ancient religious svstem, having preceded even that of the Egyptians.1

On the earliest monuments we have no traces of fire-worship, which was a corruption of the purer form of Sabasanisrn; but in the bas-reliefs of Khorsabad and Kouyunjik, as well as on a multitude of cylinders of the same age, we have abundant proofs of its subsequent prevalence in Assyria. Although we may not, at present, possess sufficient materials to illustrate the most ancient Saba^anism of the Assyrians, we may, I think, pretty confidently judge of the nature of the worship of a later period. The symbols and religious ceremonies represented at Khorsabad and Kouyunjik, and on the cylinders, are identical with those of the ancient monuments of Persia; at the same time, the sculptures of Persepolis, in their mythic character, resemble in every respect those of the Assyrians. We have the same types and groups to embody ideas of the divinity and to convey sacred subjects. When the close connection, in early ages, between religion and art is borne in mind, it will be at once conceded, that a nation like the Persian would not borrow mere forms without attaching to them their original signification.2 If even this were not, as a general rule, the case, there is still at Persepolis sufficient to prove that the religious symbols of the Persians were adopted from the Assyrians. The form of supreme deity (the winged figure within the circle), and the typos of wisdom and power, are precisely similar on the monuments of both people. Moreover, the testimony of Herodotus leads to the same conclusion: "The Persians adore," says he, "the sun, the moon, earth, fire, water, and the winds, which may be termed their original divinities. In after times, from the example of the Assyrians and Arabians, they added Urania (Venus) to the number." From this expression it may be inferred that the worship of Venus was added by both nations to a system identically the same.3

The identity of the Assyrian and Persian systems appears also to be pointed out by the uncertainty which exists as to the birth-place and epoch of Zoroaster. According to the best authorities, he was a Chaldaean, who introduced his doctrines into Persia and central Asia.4 The Persians themselves may have recognised the Assyrian source of their religion when they declared Perseus, the founder of their race, to have been an Assyrian.5

The origin of the Chaldean theology has ever been a favourite theme of the poet and philosopher. The Assyrian plains, uninterrupted by a single eminence, and rarely shadowed by a passing cloud, were looked upon as a fit place for the birth of a system which recognised the heavenly bodies as types of the supreme power, and invested them with supernatural influences. The wonderful regularity of their periodical movements, their splendour, and even their effects upon the physical world, must have been apparent to the Chalda3an shepherd long before they became the study of the philosopher and the priest. Whilst he watched his sheep by night, he marked the stars as they rose above the horizon, and learned to distinguish one from another, and to invest the most remarkable groups with distinct forms. If the attributes of the Deity were to be typified, — if the limited intellect of man required palpable symbols to convey ideas which he could not understand in the abstract, more appropriate objects could not have been chosen than those bright luminaries whose motions and influences were enveloped in mystery, although they themselves were constantly present. The transition from this adoration to a national system of astronomy is natural; and it is not surprising that the Chaldeans, being the first to invest the heavenly bodies with sacred properties, should have been also the first to cultivate the sublimest sciences.6 The periodical movements of the heavenly bodies were ascertained by constant observations, originating probably in religious duties; their causes were investigated, and in process of time their motions were calculated and predicted. At a very early period the Assyrian priests were able to fix the date of events by celestial phenomena, and to connect the public records with them. When Alexander entered Babylon, he is said to have been presented with the archives of the empire, verified by astronomical calculations, which extended over a period of many centuries7; and Cailisthenes was able to send to his relation and friend, Aristotle, the celestial observations of 1900 years.8 We may reasonably suspect that many accounts of the astronomical skill of the Chaldeans are greatly exaggerated; but as Nabonasser did fix a period, by a well-authenticated astronomical observation, 745 B. C., it may be inferred that long before his time the priests had acquired sufficient knowledge of the science to predict and determine celestial phenomena.

I will now proceed to point out the religious types and emblems which are found on Assyrian monuments. Representations of the heavenly bodies, as sacred symbols, are of constant occurrence in the most ancient sculptures. In the bas-reliefs we find figures of the sun, moon, and stars, suspended round the neck of the king when engaged in the performance of religious ceremonies. These emblems are accompanied by a small model of the horned cap worn by winged figures, and by a trident or bident.9

I have not found these symbols on the monuments of Kouyunjik and Khorsabad, but they occur on a bas-relief of a doubtful period, built into the walls of the south-west palace of Nimroud.10 In the oldest edifice they are constantly introduced as ornaments, particularly on the chariots. They are frequently accompanied by seven disks, which probably represent the seven great heavenly bodies, that mysterious number so prevalent in the Sabæan system, or perhaps the Pleiads, like which they are grouped.11

It will be observed that in the earliest sculptures of Nimroud, the king is only seen in adoration before one symbol of the deity — the figure with the wings and tail of a bird enclosed in a circle, resembling the Ormuzd of the Persian monuments. Although there are eagle-headed figures, and other mythic forms, yet in no case do they appear to be objects of worship. The king is generally standing or kneeling beneath this figure in the circle, his hand raised in sign of prayer or adoration,12 The sacred tree is before him, but only, it may be presumed, as a type. The same symbol is also seen above him when in battle, and during his triumphal return. It is never represented above any person of inferior rank, but appears to watch especially over the monarch, who was probably typical of the nation. When over the king in battle, it shoots, against the enemies of the Assyrians, an arrow, which has a head in the shape of a trident. If it presides over a triumph, its action resembles that of the king, the right hand being elevated, and the left holding the unbent bow; if over a religious ceremony, it carries a ring, or raises the extended right hand. This emblem does not always preserve the form of the winged figure in the circle, but sometimes assumes that of a winged globe, wheel, or disk, either plain, or ornamented with leaves like a flower. In this shape, its resemblance to the winged globe of Egypt cannot be overlooked.13

This well-known symbol constantly occurs on the walls of Persepolis, and on Persian monuments of the Acha3menian dynasty, as that of the supreme divinity. It is also seen in the bas-reliefs of Pterium, and furnishes additional evidence in support of the Assyrian or Persian origin of those rock-sculptures, and of the Assyrian influence on Asia Minor.14

We may conclude from the prominent position always given to this figure in the Nimroud sculptures, and from its occurrence on Persian monuments as the representation of Ormuzd, that it was also the type of the supreme deity amongst the Assyrians. It will require a more thorough knowledge of the contents of the inscriptions than we at present possess, to determine the name by which the divinity was known. It may be conjectured, however, that it was Baal, or some modification of a name which was that of the great god amongst nearly all nations speaking cognate dialects of the Semitic or Syro-Arabian language.15 According to a custom existing from time immemorial in the East, the name of the supreme deity was introduced into the names of men. This custom prevailed from the banks of the Tigris to the Phoenician colonies beyond the pillars of Hercules; and we recognise in the Sardanapalus of the Assyrians, and the Hannibal of the Carthaginians, the identity of the origin of the religious system of two nations, as widely distinct in the time of their existence, as in their geographical position. To the Jews the same name was familiar, and was applied very generally to the gods of the surrounding nations. Even under its various orthographical modifications, there can be no dimculty in detecting it.

From this Baal came the Belus of the Greeks, who was confounded with their own Zeus, or Jupiter. But whether he was really the father of the founder of the empire, or was himself its founder, as some have asserted, and then came to be considered, after the fashion of the Greek theology, its principal deity, there may be good reason to doubt.16

The descriptions handed down to us of the contents of the Babylonian temples are highly interesting, as illustrative of the monuments recently discovered. According to Diodorus Siculus, the three deities worshipped in the great temple at Babylon, were Belus (or Jupiter), Hera, and Rhea, whose statues were of beaten gold. Belus was represented upright, in the act of walking. His statue, weighing 1000 Babylonian talents, was forty feet in height. Rhea, seated on a chair of gold, had two lions at the sides of her knees, and near her were large silver serpents. Hera stood erect, holding in her right hand a serpent by the head, and in her left a sceptre ornamented with precious stones. Before these deities was a table of silver, and on it were placed three golden cups, one for each deity.

In a bas-relief, probably of the later Assyrian period, and discovered in the ruins of the south-west palace at Nimroud, we have a procession of warriors carrying on their shoulders four images. It is doubtful whether they are the idols of a conquered people borne in triumph by the conquerors, or whether the sculpture commemorates the celebration of some religious ceremony, during which the statues of the gods were carried in procession by the people, like those of the Virgin and saints in Roman Catholic countries. It may record an expedition against the revolted Babylonians, whose divinities, as described by Diodorus, can, perhaps, be identified with the figures in the bas-relief; but, as nearly the same forms are found on the rock-tablets of Malthalyah — pure Assyrian monuments — it is more probable that they are Assyrian. The gods of the two cities, Nineveh and Babylon, were, there can be little doubt, nearly the same.

The first deity mentioned by Diodorus is Jupiter, the Belus, or Baal, of the Babylonians.17 He is seen, he says, in the act of walking. The commentators have objected to this description, that the chief of the gods would scarcely have been represented otherwise than seated on his throne. The bas-relief, however, confirms the statement of the geographer; for the god is represented with one leg in advance, as if in the act of walking. That it is the figure of Baal, or the great divinity of the Babylonians, may be inferred from the passage in the Epistle of Jeremy.18 " Now shall ye see, in Babylon," says the prophet, "gods of silver, and of gold, and of wood, borne upon shoulders.19 And he that cannot put to death one that offendeth him holdeth a sceptre, as though he were a judge of the country. He hath also in his right hand a dagger and an axe." He is thus seen in the bas-relief; and the introduction of the axe could scarcely have been accidental. The sculpture,' therefore, appears to corroborate the authenticity of, and to illustrate the epistle.

The same document furnishes us with several interesting details as to the nature of the Babylonian idols. We learn that they were frequently made of wood and laid over with gold, and that parts of them were polished by the workmen. Crowns were made for their heads; they were decked in garments, and covered with purple raiment20; and fires or lamps were kept burning before them.

This account appears to confirm the assertion of Diodorus, that the statues in the Babylonian temples were made of beaten gold, or that they were gilded so as to have that appearance. Nor must the proportions assigned to them by the geographer be deemed exaggerated, if we remember that the image of gold set up by Nebuchadnezzar in the plain of Dura, was threescore cubits in height, and six cubits in breadth!21

The figure in the bas-relief has horns on its head; and would consequently appear to be connected with the divinity wearing the horned cap, so frequently represented in the Assyrian sculptures: but they have nothing else in common. On the older monuments, indeed, we have no figure which corresponds with any description of Belus furnished by the Greeks. The bas-relief just described may belong to the period when the older forms were corrupted, and when a more gross idolatry had succeeded to purer Sabæanism.22

We have little difficulty in identifying Hera, the second deity mentioned by Diodorus, with Astarta, Mylitta, or Venus; whose worship, according to the united testimony of scripture and of ancient authors, formed so prominent a part of the religious system of all the Semitic nations, and particularly the Assyrians,23 She held a serpent in one hand; and so she is represented in the Egyptian tablet.24 In the bas-relief of the procession of the gods, it is not impossible that the object in the hand of the sitting figure, which has been defaced, may also have been a serpent. An inquiry into the origin and nature of this divinity, and of the emblems under which she was represented, would lead to a digression unsuited to the object and limits of these volumes. We have proofs of the prevalence of her far- extending worship on the earliest monuments with which we are acquainted; a female winged figure, partly naked, and undoubtedly representing the divinity presiding over generation, being, as I have already mentioned25, introduced into the embroideries of robes in the most ancient palace at Nimroud. But, whilst there can be no question as to the object of this figure, it is remarkable that in no part of the ruins have any traces been discovered of that peculiar emblem which frequently occurs on cylinders of Assyria, and which was typical of the worship of Venus amongst most Asiatic nations. Indeed, the absence of unseemly symbols on the Assyrian monuments is worthy of remark, and shows a considerable purity of taste and feeling: even the two figures to which I have alluded would escape notice except on a minute examination. That this worship, even under its most degrading forms, did exist, can scarcely be doubted. Tradition has traced its introduction to Semiramis — that is, to the very earliest period. We have no evidence, however, of the corruption of morals, which might naturally be expected to accompany it; nor do the monuments hitherto discovered present any proof of the existence in Assyria, of that infamous law which, according to Herodotus, marked the rites of the goddess at Babylon.26

She was "the Queen of Heaven," frequently alluded to in the sacred volumes.27 Diodorus mentions the vases which were placed on tables before the divinities in the Babylonian temple; the prophet describes the drink offerings to her; and in the sculptures, the king is constantly represented with a cup in one hand, in the act of performing some religious ceremony. The planet, which bore her name, was sacred to her; and in the Assyrian sculptures, a star is placed upon her head. She was called Beltis, because she was the female form of the great divinity, or Baal; the two, there is reason to conjecture, having been originally but one, and androgyne,28 Her worship penetrated from Assyria into Asia Minor, where its Assyrian origin was recognised.29 In the rock-tablets of Pterium she is represented, as in those of Assyria, standing erect on a lion30, and crowned with a tower, or mural coronet; which, we learn from Lucian, was peculiar to the Semitic figure of the goddess.31 This may have been a modification of the high cap of the Assyrian bas-reliefs. To the Shemites she was known under the names of Astarte32, Ashtaroth, Mylitta, and Alitta, according to the various dialects of the nations amongst which her worship prevailed.

The goddess Rhea, with her lions and serpents, as described by Diodorus, may perhaps be recognised both in the rock-sculptures of Malthaiyah, and in the bas-relief from Nimroud.33 In these sculptures she is seen, like Astarte and other divinities, with a star upon her head.34 This shows a connection with some system in which the heavenly bodies formed a principal feature; but the representation in a human form of the celestial bodies, themselves originally but a type, was a corruption which appears to have crept at a later period into the mythology of Assyria; for in the more ancient bas-reliefs figures with caps surmounted by stars do not occur, and the sun, moon, and planets stand alone.

On the earliest Assyrian monuments, one of the most prominent sacred types is the eagle-headed, or vulture-headed, human figure.35 Not only is it found in colossal proportions on the walls, or guarding the portals of the chambers, but it is also constantly represented amongst the groups on the embroidered robes. When thus introduced, it is generally seen contending with other mythic animals, such as the human-headed lion or bull; and in these contests it appears to be always the conqueror. It may, hence, be inferred that it was a type of the supreme deity, or of one of his principal attributes,36 A fragment of the Zoroastrian oracles preserved by Eusebius, declares that " God is he that has the head of a hawk. He is the first, indestructible, eternal, unbegotten, indivisible, dissimilar; the dispenser of all good; incorruptible; the best of the good, the wisest of the wise: he is the father of equity and justice, self-taught, physical and perfect, and wise, and the only inventor of the sacred philosophy."37 This figure may also be identified with the god Nisroch38, in whose temple Sennacherib was slain by his sons; for the word Nisr signifies, in all the Semitic languages, an eagle.39 Sometimes the head of this bird is added to the body of a lion. Under this form of the Egyptian hieraco-sphinx it is the conqueror in combats with other symbolical figures, and is frequently represented as striking down a gazelle or wild goat It also closely resembles the gryphon of the Greek mythology, avowedly an eastern symbol, and connected with Apollo, or with the sun, of which the Assyrian form was probably an emblem. It may now be inferred, that the Greeks derived their mythical figure from the Assyrians.40

The winged human-headed lions and bulls, those magnificent forms which guarded the portals of the Assyrian temples, next deserve notice. Not only are they found as separate sculptures, but, like the eagle-headed figures, are constantly introduced into the groups embroidered on the robes. It is worthy of observation, that, whenever they are represented, either in contest with the man, or with the eagle-headed figure, they appear to be vanquished. Such is also the case on cylinders. Frequently a human figure is seen suspending them in the air by the hind legs, or striking them with a mace. I have already ventured to suggest the idea which these singular forms were intended to convey — the union of the greatest intellectual and physical powers; but certainly their position with reference to other symbolical figures, would point to an inferiority in the celestial hierarchy. Although the andro-sphinx of the Egyptians was the type of the monarch, we can scarcely believe it to have been so amongst the Assyrians; for in the sculptures we find even the eagle-headed figure, the vanquisher of the human-headed lion and bull, ministering to the king. Whether the sphinx originated with the Assyrians, or the Egyptians, may now become a question of some interest. It may not. perhaps, be out of place to remark that it was first introduced into Egypt in the time of the eighteenth dynasty; when so many Assyrian peculiarities suddenly appear on Egyptian monuments, that we are involuntarily led to infer some close and intimate connection between the two countries.41 The sphinx, as an architectural ornament, occupies nearly the same position in the edifices of Assyria and Egypt, being placed at the entrances to temples and palaces.

The winged bull with the human head is evidently a pure Assyrian type. Its position in the religious system seems to be identical with that of the androsphinx; and in the mythic groups, as well as in architecture, they both occupy the same place. Power was probably typified indiscriminately by the body of the lion and the bull.

Various other emblematical forms and types are found in the Assyrian sculptures — such as the winged horse, so closely resembling the Pegasus of the Greeks, that we can scarcely doubt the identity42, — the wild goat, the ostrich, the dragon with the eagle's head, and the human figure with the head of a lion.

To all these images some mythic meaning was undoubtedly attached.43 They were emblematical, representing either the attributes of the Deity, or certain physical phenomena in nature. But I cannot venture,

at present, to conjecture the signification of any of them; nor am I able to determine the character of the winged human figures which so frequently occur on the walls of Assyrian buildings. They may be the representations of presiding deities, or genii; or of priests who, during the celebration of sacred ceremonies, assumed that which was believed to be the outward form of the divinities. In two instances they were portrayed as females. Sometimes they bear animals or plants, either for sacrifice or as types. As they are frequently seen in an act of adoration before the king (whom they generally accompany), or before the mystic tree, their divine character may be questioned. They may perhaps be identified with the good spirits, or Amshaspands, of the later Persian theology.

The resemblance between the symbolical figures I have described, and those seen by Ezekiel in his vision, can scarcely fail to strike the reader. As the prophet had beheld the Assyrian palaces, with their mysterious images and gorgeous decorations, it is highly probable that, when seeking to typify certain divine attributes, and to describe the divine glory, he chose forms that were not only familiar to him, but to the people whom he addressed — captives like himself in the land of Assyria. Those who were uncorrupted by even the outward forms of idolatry, sought for images to convey the idea of the Supreme God. Ezekiel saw in his vision the likeness of four living creatures, which had four faces, four wings, and the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides. Their faces were those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. By them was a wheel, the appearance of which "was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel."44 It will be observed that the four forms chosen by Ezekiel to illustrate his description — the man, the lion, the bull, and the eagle, — are precisely those which are constantly found on Assyrian monuments as religious types. The "wheel within wheel," mentioned in connection with the emblematical figures, may refer to the winged circle, or wheel, representing at Nimroud the supreme deity,45 These coincidences are too marked not to deserve notice; and do certainly lead to the inference, that the symbols chosen by the prophet were derived from the Assyrian sculptures.46

The symbolical figures of the Assyrians, as we might expect from the evident identity of the two nations, were placed, at a very early period, in the sacred edifices of the Babylonians. In the temple of Belus, according to Berosus47, there were sculptured representations of men with two wings, and others with four, some having two faces, others the legs and horns of goats, or the hoofs of horses; there were bulls also with the heads of men, and horses with the heads of dogs.48

I must not omit to allude to the tradition preserved by Berosus, which appears to attribute to a foreign nation, arriving by sea, the introduction, at some remote period, of civilisation and certain arts into Babylonia. According to the historian, there appeared out of the Erythræan, or Persian, Gulf, an animal endowed with reason, called Oannes. Its body was like that of a fish: but under the head of the fish was that of a man, and added to its tail were women's feet. Its voice, too, was human, and it spoke an articulate language. During the day it instructed the Chaldeans in letters and in all arts and sciences, teaching them to build temples; but at night it plunged again into the sea. Five such monsters appeared at different epochs in Babylonia, and were called "Annedoti."49 The first was named the Musarus Oannes, and the last Odacon. Their images, he adds, were preserved in Chaldaea even to his day.50

In a bas-relief from Khorsabad representing a naval engagement, or the siege of a city on the seacoast, we have the god nearly as described by Berosus. To the body of a man as far as the waist, is joined the tail of a fish. The three-horned cap, surmounted by the flower in the form of a fleur-de-lis, as worn by the winged figures of the bas-reliefs, marks the sacred character. The right hand is raised as in the representations of the winged deity in the circle. This figure is in the sea amongst fish and marine animals.51

On Assyrian cylinders and gems, the same symbolical figure is very frequently found, even more closely resembling in form the description of Berosus.52

It may be inferred that the worship of fire, a corruption of Sabæanism, originated, or generally prevailed in Assyria, about the time of the building of the Khorsabad and Kouyunjik edifices. There are no traces of it on earlier known monuments. From the forms of the altars in the sculptures, and from the symbols accompanying them, we may conjecture that the Persians adopted, not only their system, but their ceremonies, almost entirely from the Assyrians.53 The fire-altar represented on Persian coins, even as late as the time of the Sassanian dynasty, was found in a bas-relief at Khorsabad.

In a sculpture from the same ruins two eunuchs are seen standing before an altar, performing some religious ceremony. They bear the square basket, or utensil, carried by the winged figures of the older bas-reliefs.

That the cone on the high stand, or altar, represents fire, appears to be shown by its having been painted red.

From the ruins of Kouyunjik we have a still more curious representation of similar ceremonies. Two eunuchs are standing before an altar upon which is the sacred fire. Two serpents appear to be attached to poles, and a bearded figure is leading a wild goat to the sacrifice.54

On cylinders, evidently of the same period, the emblems and ceremonies of the Assyrian fire- worship so closely resemble those of the Persians, that, until the discovery of the Kouyunjik sculptures, I was inclined to attribute these relics to a time long posterior to the fall of the Assyrian empire.

Amongst the ruins of Khorsabad were discovered two circular altars, which are so much like the Greek tripod, that they may be cited as an additional proof of the Assyrian origin of many forms and religious types, afterwards prevalent in Asia Minor and Greece. The altar is supported by three lion's paws. Round the upper part is an inscription, in cuneiform characters, containing the name of the Khorsabad king.55

The presence of eunuchs at religious ceremonies, not only as assistants, but apparently as principal actors, is worthy of observation. In the symbolical groups embroidered on robes, the eunuch is even frequently seen invested with outward attributes of a sacred character. It is possible that youths are meant; or that the priests, forming an exception to the general rule, shaved their beards. However, as far as I can judge, the Assyrians never portrayed a male figure without a beard; and the attendants, or priests, at the fire-altars cannot be distinguished, either by their features or their dress, from the eunuchs of the bas-reliefs. That the Babylonians had an order of priesthood, not only resembling the Magi of the Persians, but even bearing the same name, we learn from the title of one of the principal officers of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.56 He was the Rab Mag, or chief of the magians; another proof of the Assyrian origin of the Persian system.

The sacred emblems carried by the priests, are principally the fruit, or cone, of the pine, various flowers with three or five blossoms, and the square utensil; which, as I have already remarked, appears to have been of embossed or engraved metal, or of metal carved to represent wicker-work, or sometimes actually of wicker-work. M. Lajard, in an elaborate essay, has shown the connection between the cone of the cypress, and the worship of Venus in the religious systems of the East57; but I hesitate to identify the object held by the winged figures of the Assyrian monuments, with the fruit of that tree, or to assign any emblematical meaning to its shape. It has been suggested that, from its inflammable nature, the fir-cone being an apt emblem of fire, whilst the square vessel held the holy water, the two were introduced into sculptures as typical of the sacred elements. However this may be, it is evident from their constant occurrence on Assyrian monuments, that they were very important objects in religious ceremonies.58 Any attempt to explain their use, or their typical meaning, can, at present, be little better than an ingenious speculation.

The flowers on the earlier monuments are either circular with five or more petals, or resemble the Greek honeysuckle.59 From the constant introduction of the tree ornamented with them, into groups representing the performance of religious ceremonies, there cannot be a doubt that they were symbolical and were invested with a sacred character. The sacred tree, or tree of life, so universally recognised in Eastern systems of theology, is called to mind, and we are naturally led to refer the traditions connected with it to a common origin,60 On the later Assyrian monuments, as it has already been observed, the lotus frequently takes the place of the honeysuckle, both as a sacred emblem carried by the winged figures, and as an ornament in architecture and in embroideries. 1 have attributed this change to a close connection with Egypt.

When the king is represented in the sculptures as engaged in the performance of some religious ceremony before the sacred tree, or beneath the image of the deity, he appears to be peculiarly attired. His waist is encircled by a kind of knotted zone, the ends of which fall down almost to his feet. Such was probably the girdle with which the Persian disciples of Zoroaster were invested on their initiation. He holds in one hand a mace, formed by a handle terminating in a globe or disk. A similar object is frequently carried by winged figures. It is sometimes replaced by a kind of bident, which appears to be connected by a wavy line with the figure of the divinity above.61 Suspended round the king's neck are the sacred emblems, the sun, moon, star, horned cap, and trident.62

The intimate connection between the public and private life of the Assyrians and their religion, is abundantly proved by the sculptures described in the previous pages. As amongst most ancient Eastern nations, not only all public and social duties, but even the commonest forms and customs, appear to have been more or less influenced by religion, or to have been looked upon as typical. The residence of the king, as I have observed, was probably at the same time the temple63, and that he himself was either supposed to be invested with divine attributes, or was looked upon as a type of the Supreme Deity, is shown by the sculptures. The winged figures, even that with the head of the eagle, minister to him. All his acts, whether in war or peace, appear to have been connected with the national religion, and were believed to be under the special protection and superintendence of the deity. When he is represented in battle, the winged figure in the circle hovers above his head, bends the bow against his enemies, or assumes his attitude of triumph. His contests with the lion and other formidable animals, not only show his prowess and skill, but typify, at the same time, his superior strength and wisdom. Whether he has overcome his enemies or the wild beasts, he pours out a libation from the sacred cup, attended by his courtiers, and by the winged figures. The embroideries upon his robes, and upon those of his attendants, have all mythic meanings. Even his weapons, bracelets, and armlets are adorned with the forms of sacred animals, the lion, bull, or duck. In architectural decorations, the same religious influence is evident. The fir, or pine cone, and the honeysuckle, are constantly repeated. They form friezes, the capitals of columns, and the fringes of hangings.64 Chairs, tables, and couches, are adorned with the heads and feet of the bull, the lion, and the ram, all sacred animals.65 Even on chariots and on

the trappings of horses, the Assyrians introduced their religious emblems. This singular connection between religion, and the duties and events of life whether public or private, so remarkably illustrated by the monuments of the Assyrians and Egpytians, and by the Jewish law, is well worthy of philosophical inquiry. But the subject does not enter into the scope of these volumes.

It only remains for me to say a few words on the mode of burial of the Assyrians. As I have already observed, no tombs which can with certainty be attributed to that people, have yet been discovered. We may conjecture, as the analogies between the two nations are in other respects so evident, that the Persians imitated the Assyrians, in their funereal ceremonies. The body may have been enclosed in a coffin filled with honey, wax, or oil; and this may also be inferred from the anecdote related by Ælian as to the body of Belus.66 Traditions have been preserved relating to the tombs of the two most celebrated Assyrian kings — Ninus and Sardanapalus; but they are so confused and vague, that even the precise place of sepulture of those monarchs cannot be determined. According to some the tomb of Ninus was at Babylon, where, it will be remembered, Ovid places the "Busta Nini;" according to others, at Nineveh. Ctesias relates that when her husband died, Semiramis buried his body in the palace, and raised over it a huge tumulus or pyramid of earth, which was visible from afar, and was still standing after the destruction of the city and the fall of the empire.67 From the ambiguous expression of the Greek author it might be inferred, that the palace itself was actually buried. The extraordinary preservation of the sculptures at Nimroud, and the existence of the pyramid, almost induced me at one time to believe that the building had been purposely covered up; and that the part of the mound enclosing the north-west edifice was actually the monument described by Ctesias. Nor can this conjecture be rejected on account of its mere absurdity, when we remember the extraordinary works of those ancient nations, which more or less resembled the Assyrians in their customs, and in their political condition. An ancient tradition declares that Ninus neither died, nor was buried, in Assyria; but that, having been dethroned by Semiramis, he fled into Crete,68 Semiramis herself is said by some to have been changed into a dove, and to have been honoured with an apotheosis; whilst according to others she burnt herself at Babylon, on account of the death of a favourite horse69, an inscription recording her conquests and great works being placed over her tomb,70

The same doubt exists as to the burial-place of Sardanapalus. Some have placed his tomb at Anchiale, in Cilicia, where it was said to have been seen by Alexander; others at Tarsus; others, again, at Nineveh. According to Amynthus71, at the gate of the Assyrian capital was a high artificial terrace or tumulus, which was the tomb of the monarch, and bore an inscription to that effect, in Chaldean letters. During the siege of Nineveh engines of war, brought against the besieged, were placed upon it. But if this were the tomb of the Sardanapalus of history, who burnt himself, with his wealth and concubines, and after whose death the Assyrian dynasty and capital were totally destroyed, it may be asked how it could have been thus raised in the most conspicuous part of the city? It is most probable that the high terrace described by Amynthus was the pyramid or mound of Nimroud, and the tomb of a much earlier monarch. The epitaph inscribed upon the tomb of Sardanapalus — " Sardanapalus, the son of Anacyndaraxos, built Anchiale and Tarsus in one day: eat, drink, and lust; the rest is nothing " — has been quoted for ages, and its authenticity is generally admitted. Yet some versions of the same inscription would give a more favourable view of the character of the monarch: although the sentiment, according to those who pretend to have seen the monument, was sufficiently illustrated by a statue, representing the king snapping his fingers in contempt, or in the attitude of a dancer.72

The manner of the death of Sardanapalus is no less doubtful than the site of his tomb. The Assyrian king, upon the funeral pile, surrounded by his wives, his concubines, and his treasures of gold and silver, gazing from the flaming heap on the great city, once impregnable, and now to become the prey of the conquering Mede, has long been a favourite theme of the poet, the historian, and the moralist. Some, however, pretend that the monarch, driven from his throne, and the victim of luxury and debauch, wandered into a distant part of his former dominions, and died of premature old age.73 Others, again, as it has been seen, place his tomb at Anchiale, with an inscription only becoming one who had died a monarch. Modern critics, at a loss to reconcile these anomalies regarding Ninus, Semiramis, and Sardanapalus, have been compelled to assume that there were two or more monarchs of each name; whose deeds and the period of whose existence have been confounded by ancient historians.74

But if an impenetrable mystery surrounds the lives of kings who were connected with the greatest revolutions and political changes in Asia, how can we hope to determine the precise mode and place of their burial? If this obscurity hangs over the deeds of the three greatest characters in Assyrian history, how fruitless would be an endeavour to frame a narrative of any minor events, from the materials hitherto accessible! Although the ancients were unable to discover the records of more than thirty generations of kings, we cannot concur in their sweeping assertion that the lives of those monarchs were passed in inglorious sloth, and that their reigns were unmarked by a single achievement worthy of notice. These writers contradict themselves when they speak of the Assyrian power extending from India to the Hellespont, and the name of Assyria applying to a region stretching from the confines of Pontus to the borders of Egypt. History may have failed to chronicle the deeds of a nation which could maintain its sway over the largest portion of the then civilised world, and traditions, in which their remembrance was preserved, may have perished before history was ready to receive them; but the records of the people themselves have remained, and are now before us. From them we may hope to fill up a part of a great blank in the history of the world. The attempt to do so cannot be altogether uninteresting or unimportant. It is of Assyria we treat, — a name familiar to us as the seat of the earliest settlements of the human race, and as the birthplace of the first patriarchs. How far the civilisation and worship of its inhabitants may have affected a religious system, which still maintains an influence over nearly one half of the human race, we are not yet, probably, fully aware; nor could I, at present, venture to inquire. A more palpable influence exercised over Asia Minor, and even Greece, has been casually, though imperfectly, pointed out in these volumes.75 I might further enlarge on the diffusion of the arts and religion of the Assyrians, either directly or through their allies, over the distant regions of Egypt and Libya. Engaging theories, not devoid of plausibility, might be advanced, and at any rate an extended and impartial inquiry might convince us, that the influence of Assyria was more extensive than a mere superficial examination might lead us to suspect. But such subjects are at present out of my province. I shall be well satisfied, and my literary labours, as well as those of a more active nature, will be amply rewarded, if I have succeeded in an attempt to add a page to the history of mankind, by restoring a part of the lost annals of Assyria.



1) "Ægyptiis vero antiquores esse magos Aristoteles auctor est in primo de philosophia libro." (Theopomp. Frag. ) lamblichus de Myst. p. 3. ed. Gale, ἡμεῖς οὖν τὰ μέν Ἀσσυρίων πάτρια (in some MSS. πρώτα) δόγματα παραδώσομεν σοι μετὰ ἀληθείας τὴν γνώμην. The identity of many of the Assyrian doctrines with those of Egypt, is alluded to by Porphyry and Clemens. (See Gale, ibid. p. 185.) I am indebted to Mr. Birch for the following observations on this subject.

"There can be no doubt of the Sabaeanism of the Chaldees, and apparently of the early Assyrians, whose pantheon, from its fusion of human and animal forms, resembles the Egyptian and Hindhu. The relation of religion with astronomy is, however, more striking in Assyria than in Egypt; the system of the latter country being solar, while the Assyrian worship was rather astral. On the Babylonian cylinders and monuments, the sun and moon constantly occur, and often seven stars arranged more in the manner of the Pleiads than of the Great Bear, but probably the latter. Zodiacal signs are frequently placed in the area along with the sun, moon, and seven stars, and show unequivocally that the Greeks derived their notions and arrangements of the Zodiac from the Chaldees: thus, I. a fish (Cullimore, on Cyl. Nos. 19. 28. 88. 113.) stands for pisces; II. the extraordinary combination, Capricorn (Ibid. 29, 30. 32.), on cylinders bearing, in the lapidary Babylonian cuneiforms, the name of Nebuchadnezzar; III. a woman, Virgo (Ibid. 50. 94. 117. 91.); IV. the two men, Gemini (Ibid. 65. 70. 94.) with Capricorn (Ibid. 71.); VI. the bull, Taurus (Ibid. 91. 92. 106. 156.); VII. the archer, Sagittarius (Ibid. 107.). Other signs appear to be, IX. a man, probably Aquarius (Ibid. 51. 95. 66. 112.); X. an uncertain and ill-defined animal, perhaps a dog (Ibid. 51, 52, 53. 57.\ XL a goat (Ibid. 107. 136. 95. 93. 112, 113.); XII. a lion, Leo (Ibid. 91. 94.). I do not pretend to explain every symbol on these cylinders, but all those which I have selected, are placed in the area, are not essential to the general subject, and are of smaller proportions than the principal figures, which may also have an astronomical import. The identity of Nimrod and the constellation Orion, is not to be rejected; and Nimrod may be one of the divinities standing on a dog with eight stars behind him (Ibid. 157.). Another god with four wings, each terminating in a star (Ibid. 153.), is apparently a constellation, as also the god seated on a throne with eight stars all round him. (Ibid. 153.) "The strange animal forms on the Babylonian relic called the " Caillou de Michaud," have apparently some reference to the zodiacal signs: amongst them is the scorpion.

2) The connection, as exhibited by art, between Assyria and Persia, illustrated in a previous chapter, is sufficient, I think, to prove the origin of the symbols and myths of the Persians.

3) These facts show that it is unnecessary, with Heeren and other German writers, to seek for the origin of the monsters of Persepolis in Bactria and central Asia. It has long been a favourite speculation in Germany to trace the source of all religious systems to the great table-land of the Asiatic continent, from whence, according to this theory, it spread into the lower country, to the Persians, and their neighbours. But when Persia was a mere province, and long before her name is found amongst the civilised nations of antiquity, the religious system of the Assyrians was not only perfected, but was falling into decay. The Assyrian empire had ceased to exist before its myths and symbols were transferred, with its arts, to the walls of Persepolis.

4) The country of Zoroaster, the time of his birth, the nature of his doctrines, and the authenticity of those attributed to him, are amongst the many disputed questions of ancient history. We must presume that there were two persons, if not more, of the same name, if we wish to reconcile the conflicting accounts. According to some, Zoroaster was a king of Bactria in the time of Xinus and Semiramis. Ceplialion and Moses of Chorene assert that he was born on the same day as Semiramis. Pliny places his birth many thousand years before that of Moses; whilst others would fain bring the time of his ministry down to the reign of Darius Hystaspes. According to Suidas he was a Chaldaean. That the fire-worship did not originate with any Zoroaster may perhaps be inferred from the concurrent testimony of ancient authors. According to a fragment of Apollonius (69. ed. Muller), Ninus taught the Assyrians to worship fire: and so Marcellinus (1. 23.), " Cujus scientiae seculis priscis multa ex Chaldaeorum arcanis Bactrianus addidit Zoroastris."

5) Herodotus, 1. vi. c. 54. Some traditions made this Perseus a great astronomer, who instructed men in the knowledge of the stars. Περσευς ὁ Ηλιος, Perseus is the sun, says the scholiast in Lycophr. v. 18. According to some, he married Astarte, the daughter of Belus. All these traditions point to his Assyrian origin.

6) "Principle Assyrii, propter planitiem magnitudinemque regionum quos incolebant, cum coelum ex omni parte patens et apertum intuerentur, trajectiones motusque stellarum observaverunt." (Cicero de Divin. 1. i.) The greatest of our modern poets has thus beautifully conveyed the sentiment and philosophy of this Chaldaean star-worship: —

"Chaldaean shepherds, ranging trackless fields,
Beneath the concave of unclouded skies
Spread like a sea, in boundless solitude,
Looked on the polar star, as on a guide
And guardian of their course, that never closed
His stedfast eye. The planetary Five
With a submissive reverence they beheld;
Watched, from the centre of their sleeping flocks
Those radiant Mercuries, that seemed to move,
Carrying through ether, in perpetual round,
Decrees and resolutions of the Gods;
And, by their aspects, signifying works
Of dim futurity, to Man revealed.

The imaginative faculty was lord
Of observations natural: and, thus
Led on, those shepherds made report of stars
In set rotation passing to and fro,
Between the orbs of our apparent sphere
And its invisible counterpart, adorned
With answering constellations, under earth,
Removed from all approach of living sight
But present to the dead; who, so they deemed,
Like those celestial messengers, beheld
All accidents, and judges were of all."

The Chaldæans maintained their pre-eminence as astronomers until the complete extinction of the Perso-Babylonian empire. They instructed Thales and Pythagoras in the most flourishing period of Greece, and Eudoxus and Aristotle as Babylon fell; Ptolemy in the second century of the Christian era, still had recourse to their calculations. (See some valuable observations in Grote's History of Greece, vol. iii. c. 19.)

7) According to a foolish tradition 470,000 years. (Diod. Sic. 1. ii., and Cicero de Divin. 1. ii.) It is scarcely necessary to allude to the exaggerated statements of various ancient authors as to the period comprised in the celestial observations of the Chaldeans.

8) Simplicius, Aristot. de Ccelo, p. 123.

9) It is very remarkable that, with the exception of the horned cap, these are precisely the symbols found on the sacred monuments of India; which, accompanied as they are by the sacred bull, might be mistaken for Assyrian. The sun, moon, and trident of Siva raised on columns adorn the entrances to temples (such as that of Bangalore, of which an engraving is given in Daniel's India). This identity might easily lead to a digression, which would scarcely suit the limits of this work.

10) According to Mr. Ross's account of the rock-tablets of Bavian (note, p. 143.), they appear to be represented in those bas-reliefs. The sun, moon, and stars are common emblems on cylinders of all epochs. They were adopted by the Persians, are found on coins and gems of the Sassanian period, passed from the Persians to the Arabs, and are still preserved in the insignia of the Turks. The numerous symbols and figures which occur on Assyrian and Babylonian cylinders, evidently refer to a mythological system; but a particular notice of them would lead me into a dissertation unsuited to the limits of these volumes.

11) See note p. 298. Vol. I. The seven stars are mentioned in Amos, v. 8., and in Job, ix. 9., xxxviii. 31., where they are translated in our version the Pleiads. The Pleiads are, however, only six in number; the seven stars are more probably Arcturus.

12) Two kings are frequently represented kneeling or standing beneath the winged figure; but whether the two are representations of the same monarch, or whether they show the father and son associated in the government, or two friendly monarchs concluding a treaty, I cannot determine. The two figures are identical in every respect, and I am inclined to think that but one monarch is intended.

13) This is one of the representations most intimately connected with Egypt, resembling the symbol found on the cornices of tablets as early as the twelfth dynasty. In Egypt it was the sun, with the wings of a scarab; a red solar disk, and two pendent uraei. It is called the "Hut" (the name of the Coptic Atfoo, or Edfoo, Apollinopqlis magna). M. Lajard, as I have already observed, endeavours to derive the Egyptian from the Assyrian emblem. (Observations sur la Croix Ansee, Mem. de 1'Acad. vol. xvii.) Whether the winged figure in the circle, or the winged globe, or simply the sun, was the original form, I will not attempt to conjecture. According to M. Lajard, this symbol is formed by a circle or crown, to denote time without bounds, or eternity, encircling the image of Baal, with the wings and tail of a dove, to show the association of Mylitta, the Assyrian Venus — thus presenting a complete triad.

14) See page 286. Mr. Scharf is also inclined to trace in the oval form of the harpies of the Xanthian monument some connection with the winged globe, which, from the Persian origin of those figure?, is not unlikely. (Observations on the Peculiarities of Sculptures seen on the Monuments of ancient Lycia, by G. Scharf, Junior, p. 12.)

15) As the supreme deity he came to be identified with the sun, the greatest divine manifestation in the Sabsean system. Hence much mythological confusion between Belus and Apollo, and the representation of the two with the same attributes. Thus the Phoenicians, according to Sanchoniathon " stretched their hands towards the sun; for him they thought the only Lord of Heaven; calling him Beelsamin, which in Phoanician is Lord of Heaven, but in the Greek, Zeus." (Cory's Fragments.) "Lingua punica Bal Deus dicitur, apud Assyrios autem Bel dicitur quadam sacrorum ratione Saturnus et Sol." (Servius on./Eneid, i. 733.)

16) According to Castor, Belus was king of the Assyrians, and, after his death, was esteemed a god. (Cory's Fragments, p. 65.) It is singular to find the Persians subsequently carrying as their principal religious emblems the figures of Belus and Ninus. (See p. 365.) They were either looked upon as divinities, or, as some have conjectured, represented the dominion of the Persian king over the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.

The Roman author may have substituted these names for others. It has been mentioned that "Nini" is an emendation by Scaliger, the MSS. having " Pacis." Belus was confounded with Mars. " After Ninus reigned Thyrras, whom they named Mars. He was very mighty and warlike, and the Assyrians placed him amongst the gods, naming him Belus, or Mars, the god of battles." (Arch, of John of Antioch, in Cramer, Anecdota Grseca, voL ii. p. 386.)

17) Berosus in Alex. Polyhistor, apud Euseb. Chron. lib. i. c. 2.

18) This epistle is supposed to have been written by the Prophet Jeremiah to the Jews when they were carried captive to Babylon. lie intended it as a warning against the idolatry of the Babylonians, whose gods he describes, that his countrymen might be aware of the impositions practised upon the worshippers of those idols, and might avoid falling into similar errors. That the Jews looked upon the letter as genuine, is shown by the reference to it in 2 Mace. xi. 2, 3.

19) Compare Isaiah, xlvi. 6, 7. " They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place."

20) Compare Jeremiah, x. 9. "Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men." These idols at Babylon were of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood and stone. (Daniel, v. 4.)

21) Daniel, iii. 1.

22) Selden (de Dis Syriis, cap. i. p. 123.) has collected the authorities on the Semitic Baal or Bel, connecting him with the Zeus of the Greeks, the Jupiter of the Romans, and Apollo and the Sun.

23) Plutarch (in Vit. Crass.) and Julius Firmicus Maternus (de Errore Trof. Relig. iv. p. 12. ed. Milliter) identify Hera with tire Assyrian Venus.

24) See p. 212.

25) See p. 213.

26) The 43rd verse of the Epistle of Jeremy is a singular confirmation of the existence of a practice which, notwithstanding the charges of credulity frequently brought against Herodotus for relating it, appears undoubtedly to have prevailed at Babylon. Similar practices amongst certain tribes still inhabiting the East is a further corroboration. We find that it also prevailed amongst several nations of Asia Minor of Semitic descent; for instance, the Lydians and Cappadocians, and the Armenians, who evidently owed its introduction to the Assyrians. (Herod. 1. 93.; Strabo, xi. 16. and xii. 36.)

27) Jeremiah, vii. 18., xliv. 17, &c.

28) Hesychius, voce Βῆλτης; Megasthenes, apud Abydenum; Euseb. Praepar. Evang. ix. 41.; Plut. in Vita Crassi. The Persian Mithra was also originally androgyne.

29) For the worship of Anaitis, or the Assyrian Venus, in Armenia, we have the authority of Strabo, Geog. 1. xi.; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 1. iv. c. 20.; Dion Cassius, 1. xxxvi. c. 32 — 36. A district of that country was called the Anaitic region.

30) Texier, Description de 1'Asie Mineure, vol. i. part i. pl. 78.

31) In the Syrian temple of Hierapolis she was represented standing on a lion, crowned with a tower, and having a cestus or zone round her waist (De Dea Syria, 31, 32.) Mylitta (Astarta), with her feet on the lion, is also mentioned. Macrob. Saturn, i. 23. May she be connected with the "El Maozem," the deity presiding over bulwarks and fortresses, the "god of forces," of Daniel, xi. 38.?

32) It has been conjectured that this name was derived from the word " star " in the primitive Indo-European languages, from whence, it is well known, came the Persian female name Satara, the daughter of Darius, and that of the biblical Esther. David Kimchi, a Hebrew commentator, derives the name of Ashtaroth from a word signifying an egg, a curious coincidence with the tradition of Aphrodite and Semirainis. (Selden, De Dis Syriis, c. 2.) In a fragment of Sanchoniathon, Astarte, travelling about the habitable world, is said to have found a star falling through the air, which she took up, and consecrated in the holy island Tyre; hence the Phoenicians said that Astarte was Aphrodite. (Cory's Fragments.) According to a tradition resembling the Orphic legends, Aphrodite was born of an egg, which fell out of heaven into the Euphrates, and was incubated by two pigeons. (Hygin. fab. 197., Schol. ad Geron. 233.) Also Ampelius (1. 2.) says — "Dicitur et in Euphrate fluvio ovum piscis in ora fluminis columbas assedisse dies plurimos, et exclusisse deam benignam et misericordiam hominibus ad bonam vitam:" — connecting the fables of Semiramis and Derceto.

33) This divinity was probably the Ομορωκα or Ομορκα of Berosus (apud Alex. Polyhistor; Euseb. Chron. 1. i. c. 11.), the Thalath (οάλὲηο) of the Chaldees. She was particularly honoured by the Trojans and Phrygians, who may have received her worship from the Assyrians. (Strabo, 1. x.)

34) This custom of placing the figure of a star upon the heads of idols is probably alluded to by the prophet. "The star of your god, which ye made to yourselves." (Amos, v. 26.)

35) See woodcut facing p. 64. Vol. I.

36) Numerous instances will be found in my "Monuments of Nineveh." It is possible that these various forms represent different attributes of one and the same deity, and that the victory of the eagle-headed figure over the lion, or bull, may denote the superiority of intellect over mere physical strength.

37) Eusebius, Praep. Evang. lib. i. c. 10.; Cory's Fragments, p. 239.

38) 2 Kings, xix. 37. Josephus (Antiq. Jud. 1. x. c. 1.) calls this image Arascus; Isaiah, Asarak; the Septuagint, Μεσοράχ.

39) The form of this deity was conjectured to be that of an eagle, long before the discovery of the Assyrian sculpture. (And. Beyeri ad Job. Seldeni de Dis Syris Syntag. addit. p. 325.)

40) Apollon himself was called Gryphenias. I hesitate to attempt, at present, the identification, with the images of the Assyrian sculptures, of any other of the Assyrian deities mentioned in the Bible — such as Nebo and Mcrodach, who, from their frequent introduction into the names of monarchs, appear to hold a high rank in the Assyrian Pantheon, or to be different appellations of the supreme deity; Sesach or Saah, whose festival was celebrated at Babylon by a kind of Saturnalia, in which the order of society, as at Rome, was for a period reversed; Succoth Benoth, sometimes identified with Astarte or Mylitta; Nergal, conjectured, according to the presumed Semitic or Indo-European origin of the name, to have reference to a fire worship, or to that of the sun under the form of a cock; and Adramelech and Anamalech, gods apparently of Assyrian origin. Of Khiun, I have already spoken (p. 212.). Remphan does not occur in the Assyrian sculptures in his Egyptian form, unless the Priapean figure on the vase discovered at Nimroud (Vol. I. p. 128.) has reference to his worship. As to all the Assyrian and Syrian deities, see Selden, de Dis Syria.

41) Mr. Birch (on the Nimroud Ivories) mentions that Thothmes III. is represented as a winged sphinx on a scarabæus in the British Museum; and it would appear that this is the first appearance of the sphinx as an Egyptian type. He also alludes to a painting of the Queen Mu-t-shem-t of the twentieth dynasty as a winged sphinx.

42) Note, in connection with this winged horse, the Assyrian origin of Perseus, see p. 443.

43) The Iynges, or sacred birds, belonged to the Babylonian, and probably to the Assyrian religion. They were a kind of demons, who exercised a peculiar influence over mankind, resembling the ferouher of the Zoroastrian system. (Ignasius, de Insomn. p. 134. ed. Patav. Schol. Niceph.) The oracles attributed to Zoroaster describe them as powers animated by God.

Νοούμεναι ἷϋγγες πατρόθεν νοέουσι καὶ αὐταί·
Βουλαῖς ἀφθέγκτοισι κινούμεναι ὥστε νοῆσαι.

(The intelligible lynges themselves understand from the Father;
By ineffable counsels being moved so as to understand.)

(Zoroaster, Oracul. Magn. ad Calcem Oracul. Sybill. Ed. Gall. p. 80., and Cory's Fragments, p. 250.) Their images made of gold were in the palace of the king of Babylon, according to Philostratus. (Lib. 5. c. 25. and lib. vi. c. 2.) They were connected with magic. (Selden, de Dis Syriis, p. 39.) It is possible that the bird borne by warriors, in a bas-relief from the ruins of the centre palace, may represent the lynges. This figure may, however, resemble the golden eagle carried before the Persian monarchs. (Xenophon, Cyrop. 1. vii., Anab. 1. ix.; Quintus Curtius, 1. Hi. c. 3.)

44) Ezekiel, i. 16.

45) See woodcuts, page 448.

46) The lion with the wings of an eagle is also introduced as a type of strength and power by the prophets, who were intimate with the contents of the Assyrian and Babylonian temples. Compare Daniel, vii. 4.

47) Apud. Euseb. ed. Aucher, vol. i. p. 23.

48) "Behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the walls round about." (Ezekiel, viii. 10.)

49) i. e. "coming out of," or " proceeding from."

50) This fragment of Berosus is preserved by Apollodorus. (See Cory's Fragments, p. 30.) Such may have been the dragon of the Apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon.

51) This fish-worship extended to Syria, and appears to have been more prevalent in that country than in Assyria. The Dagon of the Philistines of Ashdod, evidently resembled the figure on the Assyrian sculptures and cylinders. When it fell before the ark, "the head and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the fishy part of Dagon was left to him." (1 Samuel, v. 4. See the marginal reading, which is to be preferred to our version.) The same idol is mentioned in Judges, xvi. The meaning of the word in Hebrew is "a fish." Although this image, like that of the Assyrians, appears to have been originally male; at a later period, it became female in Syria, as we learn from Lucian (de Deâ Syriâ), and Diodorus Siculus, who describes the idol at Ascalon with the face of a woman and body of a fish. (Lib. ii.) An icthyolatry, connected with Derceto or Atergates, was perhaps confounded with the worship of Dagon. See the authorities on the subject collected in Selden, de Dis Syris, c. 3. de Dagone.

52) Numerous instances are given in Lajard's large work on the Worship of Venus.

53) This identity between the religious systems of the Assyrians and Persians, affords as good an argument in favour of the Assyrian, as the Persian, origin of several of the nations of Asia Minor, the Cappadocians, for instance.

54) On a very ancient bas-relief accompanied by a cuneiform inscription discovered by me in Susiana, a similar figure is seen leading a wild goat to an altar.

55) One of these altars is now in the Louvre.

56) Jeremiah, xxxix. 3.

57) Nouvelles Annales de 1'Institut Archéologique, vol. xix.

58) It will be remembered that Bacchus brought his thyrsus, surmounted by the pine or fir cone, from the East, when he returned from his Indian expedition. The fan too, as frequently seen in the Assyrian sculptures, was introduced in the ceremonies connected with his worship and became a sacred emblem. I am inclined to assign an Assyrian origin to both.

59) See woodcuts, page 294.

60) We have the tree of life of Genesis, and the sacred tree of the Hindhus, •with its accompanying figures — a group almost identical with the illus- trations of the fall in our old Bibles. The Zoroastrian Homa, or sacred tree, was preserved by the Persians, almost as represented on the Assyrian monuments, until the Arab invasion. M. Lajard (Recherches sur la Culte du Cypres, in the Nouvelles Annales de 1' Institut Archeologique, vol.xix.) has collected all the authorities on the probable connection of this object with the worship of Venus, and of its introduction from Assyria into Asia Minor, Persia, and central Asia on one side, and into Arabia on the other.

61) Representations of these objects will be found in my "Monuments of Nineveh."

62) See woodcut, page 446.

63) The scholiast on the Periegesis of Dionysius already quoted (note, p. 264.), observes, with reference to the dedication of a great house to Belus by Semiramis, " She dedicated upon the Acropolis a great house to Belus, that is to the king (for this Belus is Jupiter or the son of Jupiter, the king according to the Jews); instead of saying she dedicated or founded a great temple, and beautified and decorated it with gold and silver and ivory; for the expression placed and prepared a palace is convenable to a king."

64) Note the Ionic form of the capital of the Assyrian pillars already alluded to (p. 274.), and the sacred character of the Greek Ionic column, which was exclusively used for funereal purposes. A column of this order stands alone in the centre of the pediment of a tomb at Telmissus.

65) The bull has always held a prominent place in the religious systems of Asia. The sacred bull of the Assyrians, the Apis of the Egyptians, and the bull Nandi of the Ilindhus are evidently identical types. The golden calf of the Israelites will not be forgotten, and for the use of the figure of the bull as a sacred ornament by the Jews, the brazen sea in the temple of Solomon may be cited. (1 Kings, vii. 25.; 2 Chron. iv. 4, 5; and Jeremiah, Hi. 20.) That in Assyria Baal, or the Supreme Deity, was worshipped under the form of a bull or heifer may be inferred from Tobit, i. 5. "Now all the tribes which together revolted, and the house of my father Xaphthali sacrificed unto the heifer Baal;" but the reading is doubtful.

66) See note, p. 220. Rich discovered a skeleton in a square wooden box or coffin amongst the ruins of Babylon. Under the head was a round pebble, on the outside of the coffin a brass bird, and in the inside an ornament of the same material, which had probably been suspended to some part of the corpse. But from the position of the coffin, it is doubtful whether it was of the pure Babylonian epoch.

67) Diod. Sic. 1. ii. Although Ctesias, as usual, has placed Nineveh on the Euphrates, the destruction of the city by the Medes identifies it with the city on the Tigris, and, at the same time, may connect the tumulus he describes with the Nimroud mound.

68) Moses Chor. c. xiv. Quippe vir ejus (Semiramis) Ninus, non ut fertur, mortuus in Nineves regiâ ab ea sepultus erat, sed ubi impudicitiam ejus ac mores flagitiosos perspecit, relicto regno, in Cretam confugit.

69) Pliny Hist. Nat. 1. viii. c. 42. " Semiramisin Babylonia equo ainisso in pyram se conjecit." Mr. Birch suggests to rne that the true reading may be " regno amisso."

70)Polyaenus (vii. c. 25.) gives the inscription, which, however, may be looked upon as fabulous.

71) Σταθμοι. 1. 3.

72) Various versions of this celebrated epitaph have been handed down to us. Athenaeus gives three (lib. viii.); one by the poet Cherillus, in seven hexameter verses, from the works of Chrysippus; a second, by the poet Phoenix, of Colophon, containing fourteen verses, with a preamble of eleven; and a third from Amynthus, all in the same sense. Note that Sardanapalus is called Ninus in one of these versions. According to Clearchus, a disciple of Aristotle, the epitaph was merely "Sardanapalus, the son of Anacyndaraxos, built the cities of Tarsus and Anchiale in one day. He is now dead." Thus inferring the vanity of human power and greatness. The concluding words in the text, which convey the condemnatory sentiment, were added. (Essai sur l'Histoire, &c. des Assyriens de Ninive, by Freret, in the Memoires of the Academie Royale des Inscriptions, &c. from 1718 to 1725.) With regard to the form of the tomb itself, as represented on the imperial coins of Anchiale, it may be presumed that it is merely conjectural, or that it was derived from an ancient monument restored at a later period. Still there is something Assyrian both in the design and in the figures placed upon it. It consisted of a kind of pyramid, surmounted by an eagle, having in front an Assyrian god, holding a cone, and trampling on a sphinx. Two winged figures stood on the wall, or peribole, surrounding the pyramid. A massive ruin of stone and brick-work — consisting of a square base, surrounded by a wall of great thickness — in the midst of the modern town of Tarsus, has been by some identified with the tomb of Sardanapalus. This ruin was opened in one or two places some years ago by the French consul, but without results of any interest. The whole appears to be a solid mass of masonry, and was probably only the lower part of a monument, perhaps originally cased with marble.

73) Athenaeus, lib. xii. And yet he gives, at the same time, a full account of his death on the funeral pile, which was burning for fifteen days — every one, excepting an eunuch who was within the palace, believing that the king was offering up a great sacrifice.

74) "Sardanapalus" may have been a title; or sardan, a title or name, and pul, great; as frequently conjectured. Atossa bore the name of Semiramis (Euseb. Chrcn.), and many of her works were attributed to the earlier queen. The arguments of Bryant (Mythology, vol. ii. p. 100.) to prove that the name of Semiramis attached to a tribe or nation, typified, according to a very common Eastern custom, by an individual, are ingenious. A Semiramis of history was invested with a semi-sacred character. She was the daughter of a Syrian goddess, half fish, and a young man of the country. Being exposed at her birth, she was brought up by birds, and was ultimately transformed into a dove. From her mother, the Syrians worshipped the fish, and from her own apotheosis the dove became a sacred symbol amongst the Assyrians; whilst her name was supposed to denote that bird. Fabulous and legendary as these accounts are, they appear to have had an origin in Assyrian rites only understood by the initiated, and whose mythic meaning had perished altogether before they were described. The dove appears to have been an Assyrian emblem. Yet we have no representation of it in the sculptures, unless it be the bird carried by the warriors, which I have been inclined to identify with the lynges. (Note, p. 462.) Mr. Birch has pointed out, in his Memoir on the Nimroud Cartouches (p. 160 ), the coincidence of the name of the first husband of Semiramis, Onnes, with that of the Chaldsean sea god, Cannes. The legendary accounts of the queen go far to connect her with Astarte and Venus. A scholiast, on the Periegesis of Dionysius, makes her the same as the goddess Artemis or Dispoina. Note also the Assyrian and Syrian origin of Adonis, and the legends connected with him. The authorities on the worship of Astarte and Derceto are collected by Selden (de Dis Syris, c. 3.)- With regard to the historical Semiramis, the confusion as to the time of her existence, her deeds, and her connection with Ninus, is equally inexplicable. She is declared to be the wife, daughter, and even the mother, or step-mother, of that monarch. (Cramer, Anecdota Grteca, vol. ii. p. 170.)

75) "In the time of the twelve patriarchs was Ilesiod, who translated Assyrian writings into Greek." (Anecd. Græca, Cramer, vol. ii. p. 389.)