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height of seventy or eighty feet. Such were the larger platforms upon which the Assyrian palaces were built. The palaces themselves appear to have been in the main, if not in all cases, one-storeyed buildings. Having obtained the magnificence and convenience of height by means of the platforms, the Assyrian monarchs did not rear their palaces in stages, wisely preferring the luxury of a wide extent of courts and halls and minor apartments all upon the same level. Doubtless, as is usual in Eastern countries, they would frequently repair to the level roof of their palaces, to enjoy more fully the open air and the wide view; which they could do, owing to the height of their palaces above the plain, free from the attacks of the gnats and mosquitoes, to which their subjects were liable in the world below. Such vast platforms were usually the work of two or more sovereigns; each adding to the platform of his predecessors when he wished to erect a new palace for himself. Thus Asshur-i-danipal built a palace for himself on the level of the same platform upon which his grandfather, the mighty Sennacherib, had built his. In fact, during the later and more flourishing period of the Assyrian empire, each monarch built a palace for himself; and Esarhedon built no less than three. The palace never occupied the whole of the summit of the platform,-onehalf of the level summit being usually laid out in open paved courts, sometimes with a ziggurut or temple-tower occupying one corner of it. Nevertheless, as may be inferred from the vast size of the platforms, the palaces were of great extent, embracing large halls of state, wide open courts, and a vast number of lesser and chiefly private apartments. All the chief entrances or doorways of the palace were adorned on either side by colossal winged bulls or lions with the head of a man, sculptured in fine limestone; and the chief halls and apartments were lined to the height of nine or ten feet with slabs of the same material, on which were represented in colour the exploits of the king who built the palace, with inscriptions detailing the events of his reign. And above these sculptured and coloured bas-reliefs, the walls were faced with enamelled bricks all the way up to the roof of the halls, which were usually from seventeen to twenty feet in height. Beneath these lofty palatial mounds, lay the common buildings of the city, which, if we may judge from the representation of an Assyrian town on a recovered bas-relief, were dome-shaped in the roof, and lighted not from the sides but from the top, as the palaces also were in the main.
As to the great size of the sister-capital, Babylon, there can be no doubt. The existing mounds of ruins correspond accurately enough with the magnitude ascribed to Babylon by ancient writers. 'If we take the Kasr mound as a centre,' says Professor Rawlinson,' and mark about it an area extending five miles in each direction, we shall scarcely find a square mile of the hundred without some indications of ancient buildings upon its surface.' But of the walls of Babylon, which were reckoned among the wonders of the world, no distinct traces have been found. Considering their magnitude, this fact is certainly surprising: probably their disappearance has been caused by some great inundation of the Euphrates, sweeping away the mass of crumbling brick of which the ruins consisted.
During the heyday of Assyria, the defences of Babylon could not have been very strong, for a single campaign appears to have sufficed for the repression of each of the numerous rebellions of the Babylonians. The semi-dependent position of the Babylonian rulers, and the well-grounded jealousy of the Assyrian monarchs, combined to prevent the city from being walled in by formidable defences. It was during the short-lived second monarchy, after the fall of Nineveh, that the great wall was built. It was under Nebuchadnezzar and his successors that Babylon became not only a magnificent but an impregnable capital. Herodotus, an eye-witness, states that the walls were fourteen miles square; and the lowest estimate given by any writer is upwards of ten miles square; so that they must have enclosed an area larger than that of London. Herodotus and Ctesias, our two earliest authorities, and both of whom spoke from personal observation, reckon the height of the walls at the enormous altitude of fully 300 feet; and the width of the walls, according to Herodotus, was upwards of eighty feet. The historians of Alexander the Great, nearly three centuries afterwards, and after the violence of at least three successive conquerors, reckon the height of the walls at about eighty feet, and their width upwards of thirty feet. The wall was made of brick, doubtless crude or sun-dried brick in the main, but faced and strengthened with kiln-dried brick. Along the broad summit a series of low towers, 250 in number, served as guard-rooms for the soldiers, from which they could watch, in comfort and security, the movements of the besieging army. And beneath, along the outer front of the wall, ran a wide and deep moat. Against such a rampart the operations of scaling or mining were alike hopeless.
A clear open space or belt, nearly a quarter of a mile in width, lay within the wall, running all round, upon which no houses were allowed to be built, and which doubtless (like the pomorium of the Romans) was reserved for cultivation. The area of the city was laid out in quadrangular blocks. The wall, on each of its fronts, was pierced by twenty-five gates, and from these, straight streets or roads ran across the city, cutting it
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into squares. The bed of the Euphrates, which ran through the city, dividing it nearly in half, was lined on either side by quays of solid brick, surmounted by walls which guarded the banks along their whole length. “In each of these walls were twenty-five gates, corresponding to the number of the streets which gave upon the river, and outside each gate there was a sloped landing-place, by which you could descend to the water's edge if you had occasion to cross the river. Boats were kept ready at the landing-places to convey passengers from side to side.' There was likewise a bridge (about 1000 yards long and 30 feet wide) of somewhat peculiar construction, --consisting of a series of drawbridges resting on stone piers erected in the bed of the river. At night these drawbridges were withdrawn in order that the bridge might not be used in the dark. Diodorus affirms that the sides of the river were also connected by a tunnel, fifteen feet wide and twelve high to the spring of the arched roof. If this tunnel really existed, we need not point to the much shorter Thames tunnel as a proof of the advance which we have made in engineering skill. As regards the general aspect of the city, we are told that the houses were generally lofty, being three or even four storeys high. And they are said to have had vaulted roofs which, owing to the dryness of the climate, were not protected externally with tiling.
The great wall, the bridge, and the tunnel have wholly disappeared, but the vast mounds which still rise above the flat plain attest the magnitude of the public buildings of Babylon. Chief among these are the palaces and the temples. There were three great palaces,--the old palace, the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and a smaller one on the right bank of the river. Of the old palace we have no descriptions; it was abandoned for, and eclipsed by, the great palace before the time of Herodotus. Its ruins are supposed to be represented by the mound of Amran, an ill-defined triangle, of which the longest side is 1000 yards and the shortest 700. The bricks found in the mound bear the names and titles of some of the earlier Babylonian kings. The ruins of the palace on the right bank of the river have been washed away by a change in the bed of the stream. Its western front appears to be indicated by a rampart twenty feet high and a mile in length, about 1000 yards from the old course of the stream; and at either extremity this rampart turns at a right angle, running down to the river-being traceable towards the north for 400 yards, and towards the south for fifty or sixty. It is evident that there was once, before the stream flowed in its present channel, a rectangular enclosure a mile long and 1000 yards broad, opposite to the Amran mound; and there are indications that within the enceinte was at least one important building, which was situated near the south-east angle of the enclosure, on the banks of the old course of the river. The bricks found at this point bear the name of Neriglissar'who reigned B.c. 559-556. This smaller palace (like the great palace) is said to have been enclosed by a triple wall, the entire circuit measuring thirty stades. The enclosing walls were covered with battle scenes and hunting scenes, vividly represented by means of painted and enamelled bricks. It also contained a number of bronze statues, which the Greeks believed to represent the god Belus, and the sovereigns Ninus and Semiramis, together with their officers.
Local tradition, which so frequently shows itself marvellously faithful, still points correctly to the site of the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar. The mound under which the ruined palace is buried still bears the name of 'El-Kasr,' or the palace. This edifice was the largest of all the buildings of Babylon. It is said to have been situated within a triple enclosure, the innermost wall, which was eighty feet high, being fully two miles in circumference, and the outermost nearly seven. The outer wall was built of plain baked brick, but the two inner walls were fenced with enamelled bricks, representing hunting scenes, in which were depicted, in greater than life size, a variety of animals, and also some human forms. Among these latter were two-a man transfixing a lion with his spear, and a woman on horseback aiming her javelin at a leopard—which the later Greeks believed to represent the mythic Ninus and Semiramis. The palace, we are told, had three gates, of which two were of brass, and were opened and shut by a machine. The Kasr mound, which marks the site of this great palace, is an oblong square, about 700 yards long by 600 broad, and rises more than seventy feet above the plain. The bricks found in this mound are of the best possible quality, nearly resembling our fire-bricks, and all of them are stamped with the name and titles of Nebuchadnezzar.
The two other large mounds which specially attract attention among the wide ruins of Babylon were evidently temples. These are the Babil mound and the Birs-i-Nimrud. The latter of these, which towers much higher than any other above the level of the plain, appears at first sight to have the best claim to be regarded as the remains of the great temple of Belus. Rising from a platform upwards of 270 feet square, it towers aloft in seven stages to the height of nearly 160 feet. The seven stages represented the seven spheres, in which (according to ancient Chaldean astronomy) moved the seven planets, and each stage was coloured with the peculiar hue ascribed to the planet which it represented. The first stage was black, the second orange, the third red, the fourth (assigned to the sun) was covered with plates of gold, the fifth was yellow, the sixth was blue, and the seventh (assigned to the moon) was covered with plates of silver. On the summit was a shrine, probably richly ornamented both within and without. The ascent to the shrine was on the shady north-eastern side of the edifice, and 'consisted probably of a broad staircase extending along the whole front of the building. This, then, one might conjecture, was the famous temple of Belus, renowned in the ancient world. But plainly it was not; for, on mature investigation, it appears to be the remains of the temple of Nebo at Borsippa--a walled town close by Babylon, but not included within its circuit.
The Babil mound appears to mark the true site of the ancient temple of Bel,—which the Persians destroyed, and Alexander intended to restore. It stands within a square enclosure, the sides of which are about 400 yards long. The mound itself is about 200 yards square, and its sides rise precipitously to a height of 130 or 140 feet. The excavations tend to show that the original structure embedded in the mound was a vast platform rising perpendicularly from the plain. The broad summit is flat, and we entertain little doubt that originally there stood upon it the great temple-tower described by Herodotus, and which was violently destroyed by Xerxes, or some later Persian king. We are told that when Alexander resolved to restore this temple, ten thousand men were employed for several weeks in clearing away the rubbish, and laying bare the foundations of the building. Regarding, as we do, the present mound as the true foundations, or basement platform, of the temple, we may infer that the enormous mass of rubbish cleared away by the workmen employed by Alexander was the remains of the Ziggurut, or temple-tower, which Xerxes had destroyed. This tower was the chief feature of the great temple of Belus. It was a solid mass of brickwork built in stages, square being emplaced on square, each diminishing in size as they rose upwards to the summit, on which was placed the shrine of the god. Herodotus states that the basement platform of the temple was rather more than 200 yards square, a description which corresponds with the size and shape of the Babil mound; and that it consisted of eight stages, among which he probably included the basement-platform as one. The temple, according to Strabo, was fully 600 feet high ;' and the ascent was by an inclined plane or steps, carried round the outside of the building,
1 Professor Rawlinson refuses to credit this statement, but we see no reason for his incredulity. The Great Pyramid was nearly 500 feet high. Moreover, as the temple at Birs-i-Nimrud rose to a height of 160 feet on a base of 272 feet, the temple of Belus, which was built more perpendicularly,