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The most characteristic literature of the Babylonians was
religious. The war annals gave way to the hymn to the
god. In Assyria the greatest importance was given to the
display of the king's might in war, but nothing has as yet
been found comparing at all with the wide interests, local
and chronological, of the Babylonian Chronicle. In general,

^^ Chap. II. n. 2T.

=* These are Tablet 6, K. 5281; Tablet 36, K. 10084 = Craig 31;
Tablet 41, 91-S-9, 97 = Craig 35 ; S. 930 = Craig 48 ; S. 854 = Craig
48; S. 1070; K. 5277, of unknown tablets. The dates are not in order,
for tablet 6 was made in 706, tablet 36 in 705, tablet 41 in 716. The
last seems to belong to a still earlier set of copies. Tablet 36 and
S. 854, 930, 1070 were written for or b^ Nabu zuqup kani.

"S. 98s; 81-2-4, 327; K. 10967.

*" K. 1 1309 ; 11614.

""K. 137.

" K. 9452 ; Rm. 222.

""K. 9487; 13839; cf. also Rm. 155.

"^K. 3092; 11618; S. 2045; 2102; D. T. 318; Rm. 399; Rm. 2, loi ;
345 ; 80-7-19, 2^T, 83-1-18, 429.

""See chap. II. n. 18.



THE CULTURE LIFE I 75

we find these glorifications of the king, whether confined to
mere Hsts of titles and unmeaning phrases, or supported by
the great deeds he claims to have done, a little dull reading.
And yet it is not all dull, for now and then our attention is
drawn from the bare data to some picturesque expression
which shows us we have still to do with the race which pro-
duced the book of Job and the Arabian Nights. In the
outlook on life we have an almost Homeric attitude, that of
a race civilized, but not yet sophisticated. Frequently the
similes are taken from nature. Sargon roars like a lion,
his troops rush to the attack like eagles, his enemies fly
away like birds, the devastation of the land is like that
caused by locusts. Islands lie like fish in the sea. Again
there are similes from the simple life round about. There
are often references to the yoke laid upon the enemy or of
friends who loved his yoke. Sibu fled away like an unfaith-
ful shepherd abandoning his flocks. The destruction is so
complete that the remains will be only as the pottery crushed
to powder to make mortar. The Cypriotes are dragged like
fish from the waters. Picturesque phrases are used. Ru-
sash was a helper who could not help. Iranzu went the
"way of death," while as for Dalta, "his fate came upon
him." Merodach Baladan was an evil spirit. Very pic-
turesque are the accounts of the suicide of Rusash and the
despair of Merodach Baladan, the most picturesque, per-
haps, because the scribe was not fettered in the flights of his
imagination by facts. The frequent formulae, such as " I
pulled down, I tore up, with fire I burned," also give a sort
of Homeric touch. Yet perhaps the most impressive thing
about these war annals is the straightforward way in which
events are described, the mode of narration of a people
which feels that it is doing great deeds and needs no literary
adornment to enhance them.



1/6 WESTERN ASIA IN THE DAYS OF SARGON

Of all the arts, architecture is most closely connected with
history and the Assyrians were a building nation. Partly
this was caused by emulation of Babylonia, where ages of
construction had left a vast heritage of noble edifices,
partly by the wish of the rulers to utilize their booty in erect-
ing memorials to their greatness, partly to the unsubstantial
character of these memorials, which were constantly falling
into disrepair and so made a new erection almost as easy
as the preparation of one for renewed occupation. Sargon
was a true Assyrian in this respect. In the provinces he
built extensively from the frontier fort to the palace at Car-
chemish. Hardly a city was captured but what was rebuilt,
and a mere catalogue of these alone would give an im-
pressive idea of his building operations.

It would appear that, at the beginning of his reign, Sar-
gon resided at the city of Ashur he so favored,^^ and later
we know that the palace there was repaired by Tab gil esharra
the governor of that city.^^ During the greater part of the
reign the royal headquarters were at Kalhu, further north,
where a number of the Assyrian kings, beginning with
Shalmaneser I, had resided. An old palace of Ashur nagir
pal which had fallen into decay was restored and adorned
with the booty of Carchemish.^^ As late as 707, when Sar-
gon was in Babylon, Sennacherib, as regent of Assyria, still
resided in Kalhu.^ Nineveh was not the favored city it be-
came under his successors, but we find him repairing there
a temple to Nabu and Marduk originally erected by Adad

^ A. 20, e. g., says that Hanunu was brought to " my city of Ashur."
Note also that Kalhu seems not to have been rebuilt until later.
" K. 620 = H. 91 =: van Gelderen XIV.

" The Nimrud inscription deals largely with this, see on chap. I.
^* See last chapter.



THE CULTURE LIFE 1/7

nirari, and residence for a time here seems to be indicated."**^
at Tarbig, the modern Sherif Khan, a palace was erected,
later repaired by Esarhaddon.''^ At Karamles, to the east of
Nineveh, an important part of the Assyrian triangle, Sargon
followed the example of Shalmaneser in building.*^ The
Assyrian Chronicle gives the restoration of two temples, one
in 722-721, the other in 719-714. The latter was a Nergal
temple, and seems to have been the great one at Kutha,
which probably was at this time in Sargon's possession."*^
An interesting letter is one from Ishtar Duri forwarding the
complaint of Shamash bel ugur, eponym in 711, who is at
Der, and has no inscriptions to put on the temple at that
place.** Again, we learn that the palace of the queen at
Kakzi was in ruins. The king was asked if it should be
repaired.*" Evidently Sargon was unable to execute the
work, for it was not done until 704, a year after his death.*^
Thus Sargon was much engaged in building. But the
production of such comparatively minor works did not
satisfy him. The elder Sargon had had his city of Dur
Sharrukin named after him and he would do likewise.*'

*" See the Nineveh bricks, Winckler, Sargon, I. 195. The deed of
gift of 714 is dated at Nineveh, and the Prisms seems to have come from
the same place.

*^ Esarhaddon in I. R. 48, 5, 6, 8, claims this for himself.

*- Place, Ninive, II. 169.

" Rm. 2, 97, cf. chap. I. n. 45.

** K. 504 = H. 157 = Johnston, in Harper, Literature, 253 /.

^''S. 1034 =:H. 389; G. Smith, Assys. Disc, 414; S. A. Smith, Proc.
Soc. Bibl. Arch., IX. 245 ; Delitzsch, Beitr. z. Assys., I. 613 ff.

* II. R. 69.

" Each of the inscriptions of the group written about 707 ends with
a somewhat similar account of the Dur Sharrukin operations, and the
shorter are largely devoted to it. The fullest is in the Cylinder which,
however, has a clear literary dependence on the deed of gift, see below,
dating from 713. The description of the city, as it is to-day, is largely
based on the discussion of Place in his Ninive. His excavations of



178 WESTERN ASIA IN THE DAYS OF SARGON

Looking around, he found an appropriate locality at Mag-
ganuba, a half-ruined town to the northeast of Nineveh,"*^ at
the foot of the barren Musri hills. The soil around was
largely clay, providing a good and cheap building material.
The ground was fertile, at present two crops of cereals
are raised each year and a large part exported to Baghdad.
Trees grew there then and from the sculptures we learn
of palms, olives, figs, and oranges in this region. The
waters are medicinal, being strongly charged with sulphur,
and this may have had something to do with the old king's
choice of a site.^^

We are fortunate in having several copies of the act of
expropriation and of compensation which was given at
Nineveh, thus, for a time at least, the seat of the court, in
Simanu, 711. The land required for the new city was not
taken without compensation. Those who wished it were
paid in cash the price their estates had cost them, as proved
by the tablets relating to the purchase. Those who preferred
lands were given them in other parts of the country. To the
latter type belong our documents. Adad nirari had granted
one of these fields to three men, lanuni, Ahu lamur, and
Mannuki Abi. They were to hold it on very easy terms,
merely a payment of ten homers of barley to Ashur and
Bau. Now Mannuki Abi, who was still alive, and the
children of the others were granted in exchange ninety-five
homers of land in a priestly city near Nineveh for the same

this city was the most thorough thus far undertaken. Perrot and
Chipiez in their History of Art have elucidated some points and a good
sketch may be seen in Maspero, Empires, 260 if. For the earlier Dur
Sharrukin, see chap. II. n. 11.

*' In the 707 group, the name Magganuba occurs only in C. 44. It
also occurs in the deed of gift. The name Maganubba is still used in
694, K. 346 = Johns 427.

* Place, Ninive, 13 /.



THE CULTURE LIFE 1/9

consideration, and this was to hold for their descendants."^^
The city which, with the palace, was probably the work of
Tab shar Ashur, the chief architect,^^ was laid out in the
form of a rough rectangle, nearly two thousand yards long on
each side, and was approximately oriented with its corners
to the cardinal points, a proceeding no doubt due to a
wish not to receive too directly the blazing summer sun."'^
The city was led up to by a roughly paved road forty feet
wide, a very respectable width for the east, and was con-
tinued beyond the gate with the same dimensions. On one
side of the road was a half circle and a stele, evidently a
milestone. ^^ Around the whole rectangle was a high wall
with its base of rubble work between two stone facings,
while the upper portion of doubtful height was merely of
unbaked bricks.^* Owing to the poor building material,
these walls were enormously thick, over eighty feet.^^ Along
the walls were over one hundred and fifty towers, while they
were pierced by eight gates, named, as Sargon tells us, after
eight great Assyrian deities.^*' Three were used for vehicles.
Huge winged bulls with human heads guarded the entrances,
above the arch were enameled bricks, while more within
were the slabs carved with the figures bearing pine cone

^ Of this document, four copies, K. 1989; 4467; 83-1-18, 425;
91-5-9, 193, published Winckler, Sammlung, II. 5 ; Johns 660, 714, 809.
A translation and discussion, Meissner, Mitth. Vorderasiat. Gesell., 1903,
3. Another document of this sort is Sargon 12, 45 of the Louvre, col-
lected as J. 1 155 by Johns from the extracts in Strassmaier, Verzeich-
niss. It is a sale of the land of the king's scribe and probably is to be
taken in connection with the building operations, as the land is at or
near Dur Sharrukin, Johns, Deeds, II. xiv.

^^ Eponym, 717.

'2 Place, 18.

'''Place, 196.

"Place, 160 ff.

''^ Place, 162.

^"C. 66 ff.



l80 WESTERN ASIA IN THE DAYS OF SARGON

and basket. Under each gate, on a bed of sand, was hidden
away a large number of cheap trinkets, amulets and the like,
while above the roof was vaulted with crude bricks, a piece
of work calling for no small skill. Here the peasants would
pour in with their produce or sell it in the cool halls, the
vender of cooling drinks or of sweetmeats would be there,
inquisitive citizens would congregate here to learn the latest
news from the front or the latest court gossip. Here, too,
were soldiers, and here the judge sat, ready to expose a
captive to the jeers of the mob, caged with the wild beasts,
or to consign him to a lightless prison hole sunk in the midst
of the wall. In some gates, steps in the middle prevented
the passage of horses or vehicles. The unfinished state of
the city is clearly shown at one gate where there are no bulls,
and the inscription is merely painted.^"

Little has been preserved of the city itself. Its long
straight streets crossing at right angles must have seemed
very strange to those accustomed to the narrow tortuous lanes
common to the older cities. They were paved but had no
sidewalks. In general, the effect must have been very
monotonous, with the long straight staring brick walls with
hardly a break for window or door. Once inside, there must
have been more life in the courts, perhaps even gardens,
but the whole probably had a decided '' made to order at
short notice " appearance. There must have been bazaars,
temples, and other such buildings, but we have few traces.^^
The one reason for the existence of the city and the one
survival of importance was the palace. This was erected on
a platform situated on the line of the west wall and extended
partially outside. This platform was no doubt erected pri-
marily in imitation of Babylonian models, but had a more

"Place, 170 ff.
'* Place, 201 if.



THE CULTURE LIFE l8l

practical justification. It not only formed the part of the
city most difficult for an enemy to conquer, it was also a
refuge from a revolt which might be feared from the heter-
ogeneous collection of captives who were settled here, if
the little body of native Assyrians in the city could not con-
trol them.^^ The huge mass was not a mere lump of earth,
but was erected of carefully prepared crude bricks with a
well-executed drainage system. The pressure of this enor-
mous body was resisted by a retaining wall of huge well-
dressed stones, some of which weighed over twenty tons,
laid with mathematical regularity. Around the top ran a
parapet.^^ How the platform was ascended we do not knov^_
but probably there was access on at least the city side where
ramp and perhaps steps were used.^^

On this platform was a series of buildings, enough to hold
the population of a small town, with its fourteen courts and
eighty-seven rooms.^^ It was divided into four sections, de-
voted to servants, to officials, to priests, and to the women,
and each of these, with its main court, was subdivided into

'' C. 72 if.

* Place, 24 if.

"^ There is no reason but general probability for the system of access
shown by Thomas in his restoration, Place, pi. 18. As the great court
would have held the chariots, and the stables were nearby, I think it
more probable that the chariot ramp was on the southeast, not the
northeast side. A decided objection to the placing, with Thomas, of the
ramp on the northeast side is that it violates a principle of ancient de-
fensive warfare, the placing of a ramp so that the right side, unpro-
tected by a shield, should be exposed to attack from the walls. I am
inclined to believe that the only city entrance was at the southeast and
was a ramp. But are we forced to deny an outside entrance? Thomas'
restoration does not give an adequate approach to the royal appartments.
Such a one would be given by a ramp, or perhaps here better steps, in
front of the royal courtyards. As a ramp would naturally go up towards
the city wall, the rule mentioned above would be followed.

2 Place, 45.



1 82 WESTERN ASIA IN THE DAYS OF SARGON

various groups, each again around its central court. There
were two main entrances, each seeming to correspond to an
ascent. One was on the side facing the city and was on the
style of the city gates, but more elaborate. The center gate-
way, flanked by its great bulls and adorned with tiling, was
reserved for the monarch, while side doors admitted the ser-
vants. This led into a large court, the main court of the
palace attendants. Around it were store rooms, each with a
little cell for its keeper. In them were jars, iron imple-
ments, and other supplies, while perhaps some held the
treasure. Foodstuffs and drinkables were kept in other
rooms in jars whose pointed ends were placed in supports.
A sudden shower showed to astonished workmen wine in
some of these jars more than twenty-five centuries old.
Nearby were the kitchens where cooking was carried on
under nearly the same conditions as today. Jars were turned
on one side and arranged in rows. In these was put the fire,
while the bread was plastered upon the outside and thus
baked. Nearby were the stables and the open courts where
the horses were hobbled to rings in the stone pavement. The
procuring of these horses for the royal stables was an im-
portant matter, and many are the letters relating to it.
Two main sources of supply existed. One was Media,
whence later the famous Nissaean horses came, the other
was Asia Minor, where, on the Cappadocian plains, a small
but sturdy breed was raised. Worthy of special boast were
the *' great horses from Egypt." At this time it would ap-
pear the keeper of the royal stables was Nergal etir.^^

^ Place, 79 if. A considerable number of letters dealing with the
horse trade have been published. The main gain is in topography. The
letters of Nergal etir are not in the same form as the later ones. K.
560 = H. 227 is the one referring to Delta ; K. 526 = H. 226 = De-
litsch, Beitr. z. Assys., I. 202, reports the bringing in of horses by a
member of the body guard; little remains of K. 1228 = H. 229 and K.



THE CULTURE LIFE I 83

The servants' section was almost competely shut off from
the official quarters. The entrance to the latter was, if our
conjecture be right, probably from outside the city wall.
Entering probably through a still more magnificent gate-
way, now entirely lost, one came into a court smaller than
that of the servants and adorned in the same style but more
richly. Around this were the rooms of the officials, each
with its broad frieze of sculpture, while the king and his
personal attendants lived in simple, unadorned apartments
near the center of the platform and retired as much as pos-
sible.*^* Here dwelt and worked the officials whom the let-
ters and documents have made known to us.

Skirting along the wall to the southwest, one came to the
harem, where resided the ladies of the palace. Its entrance
was guarded by two doors, placed at right angles so as to
prevent even a glimpse by the passerby of the interior.
Once inside, there was a servants' court, a court for state
purposes with a statue in the center, with figures of men with
slabs on their heads, perhaps intended to bear an awning,
with rich tiling, and finally with three elaborate rooms,
where probably the king made his visits in state to each of
his wives. In addition, there were three separate suites of
rooms, each around its own court and entirely isolated from
the others. These were clearly for the queens. Two opened
on the state court and seem to have belonged to Sargon's
wives. The third opened directly on the servant's court.

1894 =:H. 230. K. 1055 = H. 228 seems to belong to another man o
the same name. For the great horses of Egypt, see A. 440 and the dis-
cussion on the Mugri question. The horses of Asia Minor are dis-
tinctly small, as Professor Sterrett assures me, though they have a fine
reputation as roadsters. Tab gil esharra was also engaged in the horse
trade. In K. 4770 = H. 97 he reports horses from Bar Halzi and in
rC. 5465 = H. 98 states that he has sent a messenger for horses as per
orders.

* Place, 45 ff.



184 WESTERN ASIA IN THE DAYS OF SARGON

This would seem to be the place for the king's daughter-in-
law, the wife of Sennacherib. This was a lady named
Naqi'a, apparently from Harran, who also bore the Assyrian
name of Zakutu or '' Freed," a reference then to her father-
in-law's kindness to her native city. Both as wife of Sen-
nacherib and as mother of Esarhaddon she played a large
part, with cities under her control, a large staff, and consid-
erable influence on the course of affairs.^^

The fourth quarter of the palace enclosure was devoted to
the priesthood. Here was the ziggurat, a solid mass of brick
nearly one hundred and fifty feet high. Around it ran a
ramp with easy ascent and on its top were two altars on
which sacrifice was offered to the gods.*' With its varied
colors, each of the seven stories bore the color of the planet
to which it was dedicated, and its lofty height, it must have
been a most imposing spectacle. Nearby was a temple
adorned with reliefs in basalt, but never finished, and other
buildings nearby seem to represent the private rooms of the
priests.^ Here were the astrologers, the physicians, and no
doubt many of the scribes. An interesting example of a
medical test comes to us from this reign. Ishtar duri, gover-
nor of Arapha, sends on to the king the two physicians,
Nabu shum iddin and Nabu erba, of whom he has spoken.
They know nothing of the real state of affairs and are evi-
dently to have their knowledge tested.^

We cannot but express our admiration for the architects

''"The main source for Naqi'a is 82-5-22, 90= J. 645. See also
Meissner, Mitth. Vorderasiat. GeselL, 1903, 3, 12 ff.; Johns, Deeds, II.
164 ; Laws, 370 if.

^ One of these altars was left in the trenches. It seems to be the
one seen by Professor Sterrett's party.

^ Place, 137 if.

^K. 504 =:H. 157, Johnston, in Harper, Literature, 253 /. Several
astrologers with names similar to men from the reign are known, but I
think that other evidence places them later.



THE CULTURE LIFE 1 85

who produced such splendid results from such poor building
material. All around were mountains where building stone
might be obtained, and we may wonder why this, though
not of a very high quality, was not used. But the Assyrian
architects had their reasons. The country north of the Per-
sian Gulf, even so far as Assyria, is exposed to terrible
heats in summer, while in winter the winds come from the
snow-capped mountains nearby. In summer, clay was even
cooler than stone, while it had a warmth in winter never to
be expected from the houses of the other material. Each
king wished to build for himself, and the use of crude clay
offered the quickest means, while its simplicity made it
possible to utilize the gangs of prisoners from the foreign
conquests. ^^ Nor were the architects lacking in skill. Their
bricks were fine and large, and as no mortar was used, the
mass was homogeneous and there was no danger of set-
tling."^^ The great danger was from the rains. To obviate
this, all courts were paved with a double pavement of bricks
and with a thick bed of bitumen between, while elaborate
drains cut through the platform conducted the water outside,
and at the same time connected with an admirable sewer
system, the like of which would be a great blessing to the
greater part of the East today. "^^ They understood the pres-
sure of the material they dealt with and made the walls
thick enough to correspond. To us, with whom sunlight is a
necessity and whose work is so largely indoors, the buildings
seem inadequately lighted by the doors opening into the
courts and by the terracotta fixtures in the roof. But the
Assyrian spent the most of his time in the open air, and
when he did go inside he wished darkness and coolness,

Place, 222 if.

'" Place, 243.

" Place, 295 if. ; 269.



1 86 WESTERN ASIA IN THE DAYS OF SARGON

and probably spent the most of his time indoors in sleep. "^^
In the evening, he would sleep on the flat roofs, whose dirt
roof was kept in smooth shape by the stone rollers so nu-
merous in the ruins. But flat roofs were not all, for the
architect had a really marvelous control over the arch and
vault. The use of unbaked bricks to form a vault which
could remain to our day shows a high degree of abilitv, as
does the use of the half dome in the same crude material
for the courts and the formation of the vault by the gradual
change of the bricks from the square walls. '^^

It is in connection with the city of Dur Sharrukin that we
are enabled to study the art of the period. The troublous
times preceding that of Tiglath Pileser III had almost ruined
the artistic ability of the nation. But the reign of that
monarch marked a change for the better, and with each suc-
ceeding reign there was a distinct advance, although this
was little after Sargon."^* The value of the sculptures for
the life of the people is immense and has been fully appre-
ciated, but they deserve study from a purely artistic stand-
point. The Assyrians rarely sculptured in the round, but a
good example may be seen in the standing figure with a
plinth on his head who perhaps supported something."'^
Very impressive are the huge winged, man-headed bulls, of
which twenty-six were found here, weighing over forty tons
each."^^ Only fineness of finish could be gained here, for
the general outline, even to the fifth leg, were ordained by
the canons of art.

"Place, 315.

"Place, 291 if.; 256.

^* Maspero, Empires, 314 ff., well points out these changes in art.
But the remarks on the differences between the art of Sargon's and of
Sennacherib's reign should be read with caution, for it is very probable


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