A. T. (Albert Ten Eyck) Olmstead.

Western Asia in the days of Sargon of Assyria online

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that many of the sculptures in the latter's palace really came from Dur
Sharrukin, Place, II. 92.

" Place, 122.

"Place, 231.


Art found its highest and freest expression in the bas-
reliefs which extended in long rows, a mile in all," along the
walls of the main rooms in the palace. The beauty of these,
whether showing the detail of a campaign or the more peace-
ful avocations of the chase, is very marked. Sargon's sculp-
tors tried a new experiment in using basalt instead of the too
soft alabaster. Before many slabs had been cut, the work
was broken off and the workshop with its partially dressed
slabs left to be discovered in our own days."^^ In accordance
with the usual ancient rule, vivid colors were used to bring
out the details.'^

Painting was also used for inscriptions and for frescoes.
Unfortunately, the fact that they were painted on the crude
walls has rendered their preservation almost impossible, but
many traces of them have been seen and one or two frag-
ments give us an idea of an art which seems inferior to that
displayed on those bas-reliefs where the artist lavished his
best efforts. ^^

Far more beautiful was the work in tiling, always a
specialty of the east, some of whose finest specimens have
been found in the palace of Sargon. On the gates w^e have
courses of enameled bricks where winged figures with the
mystic pine cone and basket face each other across a circu-
lar ornament, perhaps the sun. The whole is included within
rows of conventionalized white and yellow daisies. Other
friezes of tiles show conventionalized but vigorous lions,
bulls, or eagles, while a rude fig tree and a curious plow, a
great contrast to the simple one of today, are also found.
But the most interesting are those from the harem, where the

" Place, II. 69.
'* Place, 149, 93.
"Place, 11. 82.
Place, II. 80 fF.


king and his tartan, Ashur danin igka, are represented. The
king is dressed in a fringed blanket and a sort of jacket, open
in front and leaving the right hand free, while the left is
held in a sort of sling. His right hand is raised as if giving
orders, his left holds the golden scepter, a survival of the
rude wooden knobbed stick still used by the peasantry. On
his head he wears a golden tiara studded with jewels, much
like the modern fez, but with a stiff point instead of the
tassel. At the back, a sort of shawl falls nearly to his waist.
On his feet are low jeweled sandals with toe thong. The
forehead is good, but the broad lips, pronounced nose, large
ears, and thick neck seem to show a certain coarseness. His
mustache is scanty, but a square-cut beard falls to his breast.
His tartan, or prime minister, is dressed much like the king,
save for his bare head. He looks older and wears a longer
beard. He seems to rest on a spear whose point touches the
ground. A careful study of these figures seems to indicate
that we have here actual likenesses and very good ones.^^

The pottery was of an advanced type. In one of the
store rooms was found a large quantity of jars, one inside
the other, and ranging from pithoi four feet high to pip-
kins.^2 But the Assyrians did not need do their best with
pottery, for alabaster could be used for the more beautiful
vessels, while the Phoenician invention of glass was also
utilized. One beautiful and elaborate glass bottle was found
in one of the store rooms, the sole unbroken survival of a

^' Place, pi. 27, 28.

^^^ Place, 82. In spite of the large quantities of pottery which might
have been utilized, we still know all too little about Assyrian ceramics.
As regards pottery strata, really scientific work of the sort carried on
in Egypt, Syria, or Greece, is still to be undertaken. This is, to be
sure, partially to be excused by the fact that bricks can be and are
used for dating, but it is still unfortunately true that the archaelogy of
minor articles is in a more unsatisfactory condition than in other fields
of research.


large collection,^^ while a fine one with Sargon's name cut
in it was found at Kalhu.^* Gem engraving was also still
carried on, as the specimens found under the gates testify.^"

To the classical writers, the Armenian tribes were cele-
brated for their metal working, but they probably gained
all their knowledge from the Assyrians. Copper was em-
ployed alone,^*^ although more often as bronze. The frag-
ments of bronze reliefs from the harem, probably used as
facing on a wooden door, make us regret the loss of a second
Balawat gate set of reliefs,^' while the bronze lions found
at Dur Sharrukin and at Kalhu, give an excellent impression
as to the ability of the Assyrians in moulding and casting.
These lions, inscribed in both Assyrian and Aramaic, show
us the exact weights used in the Assyrian metrology. They
also show another very interesting fact. The Assyrians had
taken the heavy mina, while Babylonia and Syria preferred
the light or Carchemish mina. The other kings simply toler-
ated this light mina, but Sargon, the conqueror of Carche-
mish, made it " royal " or official, no doubt in the hope of
removing obstacles to trade between Assyria and the West.^^

The Assyrians, well as they handled copper and bronze,
had long ago entered the iron age and it was no doubt to
no small degree due to this use of iron both in peace and in
war that the success of Assyria was so marked.^^ How
much iron was used can be surmised from the fact that one

^ Place, 56.

** Layard, Nineveh and Babylon.

" Place, 189.

Place, 89.

^ Place, 314.

^ For the Khorsabad lion, see Maspero, Empires, 266. For those
from Kalhu, Layard, Nineveh, 1. 128. Best published in Corpus. Ins.
Semit., II. 8, 9, 13. Best discussion by Johns, Deeds, II. 256 if.

Place. 88.


Store room at Dtir Sharrukin had stored away in it nearly
two hundred tons of iron, all worked up in the forms of
implements. Among these was a huge iron chain, ham-
mers, pickaxes, mattocks, and plowshare uf the same sort
as used by the modern natives but of a larger size, some
of the picks weighed over twenty-five pounds, and of a
finer quality, the peculiar resonance being especially noted.**
No doubt there were also many fine pieces produced in the
precious metals, but these have naturally long ago gone into
the melting pot.

The work of building Dur Sharrukin, rush it as the offi-
cials might try, was slow, and we have letters in regard to
its construction. One, for example, comes from Sha Ashur
dubbu, of Tushhan, who reports that his men are now at
Dur Sharrukin, and asks that other officials help him guard
the timber until it is removed thither.^ Every campaign
brought its quota of spoil for the new city.^ At last the
palace was ready, at least, so it was decided, and the dedica-
tion took place, probably in 706.^ This was celebrated by

"^ Place, 84 ff.

" K. 469 = H. 138, Johnston, Jour. Amer. Orient. Soc, 1897, 159 /.
=: Harper, Literature, 247. There is a good plenty of letters referring
to Dur Sharrukin, but in few cases can we be sure they relate to the
actual building. For example, there are a number from Kigir Ashur
which refer to work at that place; yet a careful study has led me to
believe that he lived somewhat later. Perhaps some of the letters about
transport of beams should be used, e. g., K, 746 = H. 490, Harper, Amer.
Jour. Sem. Lang., 1897, 8; Johns, Laws, 342, from Ashur rigua. In S.
760 = H. 424; S. A, Smith, Ashurbanipal, H. 53 if.; van Gelderen
XIX ; Johns, Laws, 344, refers to the Ituai who inspected beams at Eziat,
from Upahhir Bel. K. 491 = H. 122, all the ivory ( ?) in the land sent to
Dur Sharrukin.

^^Cf., e. g., A. 196 ff.

* As shown above, the data in II. R. 69 under 707 cannot be used
for the history of the city. The same document under 706, Airu 6,
says Dur Sharrukin karu. Now, whatever karu really does mean, it is


a sacrifice to the gods and by a great feast in which the
princes of the blood royal, the great officials, the scribes sat

Sargon's great building venture was never completed,
though the city lingered on. One gate is without its bulls,
its inscriptions are only painted,^ and the palace temple is
only half finished.^ The palace itself seems never to have
been used thereafter as a royal residence, at least there is no
proof of such occupation. But mere natural decay was not
permitted to finish the slow dest.ruction. The successors of
Sargon were vandals, and respected the palace of their an-
cestor no more than they did those of the dynasty they sup-
planted. Many of the bas-reliefs still in the palace have been
mutilated beyond hope of recovery and that by no bar-
iDarian's hand, for the mutilation was caused by the chisel
of the expert.' How many of these were carried away to
adorn the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh^ or of his
successors, we do not know, nor how many were recarved.
All we know is that the city lingered on until the end of the
Assyrian empire and generally was known as Dur Sharrukin.
Then it went to ruin. Even in the Middle Ages, the name
Sarghun still lingered, but by this time a new name had
come in. Persia had twice held the supremacy of the East
and even the second was fast becoming mythical. One of the

clear from Assyr. Chron., 788-87, and Rm, 2, 97, 1-2, that karu was
not the ceremonial dedication of a temple and that it took place before
it. Rm. 2, 97, especially makes this clear when it places a second
karu in 719, while the corresponding entrance of the god is five years
later. This agrees with the present incomplete state, see below.

*D. 167 ff.

"'Place, 181.

* Place, 150.

"'Place, 68.

" Place, II. 92.

^ \ V inckler, Sargon, V.


few names still remembered was Chosroes, and to him was
ascribed the ruin under the name of Khorsabad, the "town
of Chosroes." ^^^ So passed the glory of Sargon and for long
centuries the only proof that he had lived was the dating of
a prophecy by a prophet in a petty western kingdom as hav-
ing occurred in his reign.^^^ And such is the irony of fate
that even this was not enough to retain for him his identity,
for scholars long continued to believe that he was the same
as that Shalmaneser whose throne he had usurped.

''" lb.

''' Isaiah 2o\

.. ^'' THE






The President White School of History and Political
Science began in 1907 the issue of a series of studies under
the foregoing title. The numbers are to appear at irregular
intervals, each to be complete and to be bound separately
in cloth. Henry Holt & Company are the publishers, to
whom all orders should be addrest. The following num-
bers have appeared up to March, 1908.

Volume I. Money and Credit Instruments in their
Relation to General Prices. Edwin Walter Kemmer-
er, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Economy in
Cornell University. 172 pp. 1907. Cloth, $1.25 net. By
mail $1.31.

The subject of this book is the problem of the laws de-
termining the value of money. The treatment is both
theoretical and statistical ; the statistical results being
brought together in a series of charts which in a striking
way support the author's deductiv conclusions.

The author combines the training of a scientific student
with several years of practical experience as currency
expert and financial adviser to the Philippine Government
in the work of establishing the gold standard in the ilands.

Volume II. W^estern Asia in the Days of Sargon of
Assyria, 722-705 B.C.; A study in Oriental History.
Albert Ten Eyck Olmstead, Ph.D., late Thayer Fellow,
American School of Oriental Studies at Jerusalem. 200
pp. 1908. Cloth, $1.25 net. By mail $1.33.

The author has made a methodical study of a brief
period of Oriental history. After collecting the publisht
Assyrian data, he visited Syria, traveled over a large part
of the lands and visited the principal cities mentioned by
the scribes of Sargon. The results are modifications of
the chronology and of the topography, and new light on a
number of the unsettled questions.


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Online LibraryA. T. (Albert Ten Eyck) OlmsteadWestern Asia in the days of Sargon of Assyria → online text (page 18 of 18)