Charles Anthon.

A system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges online

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on the western bank of the Tigris, about forty-five miles to the north of Babylon.
It was founded by and called after Seleucus Nicator, and was the capital of the
Macedonian conquests in Upper Asia. Its population is said to have been six
hundred thousand. The rise of Ctesiphon, on the other side of the Tigris, proved
greatly injurious to Seleucia ; but it received its death-blow from the Romans,
having been first plundered and partially consumed by them in the reign of
Trajan, and finally destroyed in that of Verus. The ruins of Seleucia and Ctes
iphon are now called El-Madain, or " the (two) cities." 3. Cache (Ku^), to the
southeast, on the Tigris, and famed for the beauty of the surrounding country.
4. Cunaxa, a few miles below the entrance of the wall of Media, and, according
to Plutarch, five hundred stadia from Babylon. Here the celebrated battle was
fought between Artaxerxes Mnemon and his brother, Cyrus the younger, in
which the latter lost his life.


1. Borsippa, below Babylon, the seat of a college or fraternity of Chaldean
astronomers, called from it Borsippcni. It was famed for its linen manufacture.
Here, too, large bats were smoke-dried and eaten. Reichard makes it answer
to the modern Cufa. D Anville and Mannert, however, place it near Semaue.
2. Vologesia or Vologcsocerta, to the southeast, built by the Parthian Vologeses,
who was contemporary with Nero and Vespasian, with the view of injuring Se
leucia. Mannert makes this place, and not Borsippa, answer to Cufa. 3. Or-

ASIA. 687

choe or Urchoa, to the southeast, the seat of another astronomical college. Some
suppose it to be the same with " Ur of the Chaldees," mentioned in Scripture
as the native place of the family of Abraham. 4. Teredon or Diridotis, west of
the Pasitigris, the stream formed by the union of the Euphrates and Tigris. It
was a depot for frankincense and other Arabian products, and is now, perhaps,
Dorah. 5. Apamea, in the southern extremity of what was called the island of
Mesene, an insular tract formed by the Tigris and the canal termed Naarmalcha,
or " the Royal River," already mentioned. This Mesene must not be confounded
with the island-of the same name at the mouth of the Tigris. Apamea answers
to the modern Corne. 6. Charax Spasinu (Xupaf Ziraaivov), selected by Alex
ander as a port, and subsequently the residence of an Arabian prince named



I. Assyria, in the limited sense of the term, was a province
of the great Persian satrapy of Babylonia, and answers now to
a part of Kurdistan. It was bounded on the north by Arme
nia, on the east by Media and Susiana, on the west by Mes
opotamia and part of Babylonia, and on the south by the re
maining portion of Babylonia.

II. Assyria was mountainous in the north and east. It was
a well- watered country, however, and consequently, for the most
part, productive. Its chief and boundary river was the Tigris,
besides which Ptolemy mentions particularly three rivers, name
ly, the Lycus, Caprus, and Gorgus. The Lycus is the same
river which Xenophon calls Zabatus, now the Zab Ala, the
Upper or Greater Zab ; while the Caprus is now the Zab As-
fal, the Lower or Lesser Zab. The Gorgus is supposed to be
identical with the Sillas of Isidorus, and Delas of Stephanus
Byzantinus, and is now the Diala. To these we may add the
Gyndes, now the Kerah ; the Physcus, now the Odoan or
Odorneh ; and the Bumadus or Bumalus, now the Chasir,
running by Gaugamela. This last-mentioned river is a trib
utary of the Greater Zab ; all the rest flow into the Tigris.

III. The province of Assyria was subdivided into several dis
tricts, of which the principal were, 1. Aturia, to the northwest
of the Greater Zab. The name Aturia appears to be a mere
dialective variety of pronunciation instead of Assyria, and the
district thus designated was probably the central point from
which the power as well as the name of Assyria was subse
quently spread. 2. Adiabene, between the Greater and Lesser
Zab. 3. Apolloniatis, to the south of the Lesser Zab. 4. Cha-


lonltis, to the east of the preceding. 5. Sittacene, the territory
around the city of Sittace. 6. Satrapene, in the extreme south.


ASSYRIA, taken in a more extended sense, means the Assyrian Empire, com
prising not only the province just mentioned, but also Mesopotamia, Babylonia,
Media, Persia, and several countries of Western Asia. The early history of
this empire is involved in great obscurity, our only certain source of informa
tion being the Old Testament, and the information which even this affords being
limited and incidental. The legend of Ninus, and his warlike queen Semiramis,
as given by Diodorus, does not belong to the period of authentic history. The
Hebrew chronicles, on the other hand, leave us in the dark with reference to
the history of Assyria till the earlier part of the eighth century before our era.
From this time downward the names of several Assyrian kings are mentioned,
the earliest of whom is Phul, contemporary with Menahem, king of Israel.
Another of these monarchs, named Salmanassar, contemporary with Hosea,
king of Israel, and Hezekiah, king of Judea, put an end to the kingdom of Israel
(B.C. 722) by what is termed the Assyrian captivity. The last monarch of As
syria was Sardanapalus, in whose reign Nineveh was taken by the Medes and
Babylonians under Arbaces and Belesis. Sardanapalus was the thirtieth in suc
cession from Ninus, according to the common account. The brilliant discover
ies which have recently been made by Layard, have thrown much light on va
rious obscure parts of Assyrian history, and if these discoveries be followed up,
as is now extremely probable, by new researches, much of the history of As
syria, as it is now received, will have to be re-written. Layard thinks there are
sufficient grounds for the conjecture that there were two, if not more, distinct As
syrian dynasties ; the first commencing with Ninus, and ending with a Sardana
palus of history ; and the second, including the kings mentioned in the Scriptures,
and ending with Saracus, Ninus II., or the king, under whatever name he was
known, in whose reign Nineveh was finally destroyed by the combined armies
of Persia and Babylon.


1. Ninus (?) Nu>of), the Ninive of Scripture, and capital of the Assyrian empire.
It was situate on the eastern bank of the Tigris, above the mouth of the Greater
Zab, and, according to one account, was founded by Ninus, the early Assyrian
monarch. It is said to have been a still larger city than Babylon, and its walls
to have been one hundred feet high, and broad enough for three chariots to pass
abreast. There were also on the ramparts fifteen hundred towers, each two
hundred feet high. Ninive appears to have been partially destroyed on the
downfall of Sardanapalus, but to have been completely overthrown by Cyaxares,
the father of Astyages, king of the Medes. At a later period, another city of
the name of Ninus appears to have arisen in this quarter, but whether on the
site of the earlier one, or in its vicinity, we have no means of ascertaining.
The opinion advanced by Mannert and others, that there was also a city named
Ninus below Babylon, on the Euphrates, is altogether untenable. The ruins
of Ninive have been generally supposed to be those on the eastern side of the
Tigris, opposite Mosul; but the recent and very remarkable discoveries of La-
yard, in excavating the mounds not only at Kouyunjik, opposite Mosul, but also
at Nimroud, lower down the river, together with those made by Botta at Khor-
sabad, have led to some doubt respecting the particular locality of this once

ASIA. 689

celebrated capital, though they confirm, however, the opinion that it was situ
ated on the left bank of the Tigris, above the mouth of the Greater Zab.

2. Gaugamela, to the southeast, a village near the River Bumadus, and in
the vicinity of which was fought the final battle between Alexander and Da
rius. This, however, is called in history the battle of Arbela, from the city of
that name, in which Darius had established his head-quarters, and which hence
gave name to the fight, though five hundred stadia from the battle field. Gau
gamela is said to have signified in Persian " the camel s abode," and to have
been so called because Darius Hystaspis placed here the camel on which he
had escaped in his Scythian expedition, having appointed the revenue of cer
tain villages for its maintenance. 3. Arbela, the chief city of eastern Adiabe-
ne, and in the district called from it Arbelitis. It is now Arbil. Mention has
been made of it under the head of Gaugamela. 4. Apolldnia, the capital of the
district Apollonidtis. 5. Artemita, to the south, called by the natives Chalasar.
Its site is occupied by the modern Schehrban. 6. Sittdcc, to the northwest,
near the Tigris, and the capital of the district Sittacene. 7. Ctesiphon, on the
Tigris, opposite Seleucia. It was at first a small village, but the camp of the
Parthian monarchs being frequently pitched here, caused it gradually to become
a large city, and finally the capital of the Parthian empire. It was sacked by
the Saracens in A.D. 637. The ruins of this place and of Seleucia are now
called Al Modain, or "the (two) cities."


I. Susiana, also called Susis, was the name given by the
Greek geographers to a tract of country lying between Baby
lonia and Persis, and bounded on the north by Media, and on
the south by the Persian Gulf. The northern part was mount
ainous, and enjoyed a temperate climate ; but the southern por
tion, along the shore of the gulf, was exceedingly hot, being ex
posed to the west and south winds, while the mountains to the
north and east kept off every cooling breeze. The country was
not thickly settled, and had but few cities. It comprehends
pretty nearly the modern Khuzistan.

II. Among the rivers of Susiana we may mention, 1. The
Choaspes, falling into the united streams of the Euphrates and
Tigris. It is now the Kerkhah or Kerah. This river ran by
Susa, the capital of the country. Its waters were remarkable
for their clearness and purity, and the kings of Persia drank of
no other. Wherever these monarchs went, they were attended
by a number of four-wheeled carriages, drawn by mules, in
which the waters of this river, being first boiled, were deposit
ed in vessels of silver. 2. The Eulceus, called in Scripture
Ulai, and regarded by some as the same with the Choaspes.
Others, however, make it answer to the modern Kuran, which
unites with the Dizful, the ancient Cophrates. 3. The He-



dyphon, called by Pliny the Hedypnus. It is supposed by some,
though without any good reason, to be the modern Jerahi.

III. The inhabitants of the country were called Susii or Cis-
sii, and, according to the ancient writers, belonged to the Syr
ian stock, and spoke the Syrian language. Those who dwelt
in the plains, or level country to the south, were a peaceful
and agricultural race, living for the most part in villages. The
mountaineers, on the other hand, were a warlike arid independ
ent people, owing no subjection to the Persians, and oftentimes
even exacting payment from the Persian kings, when these
passed through their mountain defiles from Susa to Persepolis.


1. Susa, in Scripture Susan, the capital, in the district of Cissia, on the east
ern bank of the River Choaspes, built in the form of a rectangle, without walls,
but having a strongly fortified citadel named Mcmnonia or Memnoneum. It was
the winter residence of the kings of Persia, their summers being spent at Ecbat-
ana, in the cool, mountainous country of Media. It was also one of the royal
treasuries, and Alexander found a large amount of wealth here. The name
Susa or Susan is said to mean " a lily," and the city to have derived its name
from the abundance of these flowers which grew in its vicinity. Great diffi
culty exists with regard to its site at the present day, modern scholars being
divided between Sus and Shuster ; the former, however, appears to have the
better claim. The ruins present the appearance of numerous irregular mounds,
with a great tumulus representing probably the site of the citadel. The whole
circuit of these remains is about six or seven miles. 2. Seleucm, in the district
of Elyma is, on the Hedyphon, and probably the same with the Sele of Ptolemy.
Its site is to be found in the territory of the modern Sultanalad. 3. Azara, also
in Elymais, a village containing rich and celebrated temples of Venus and Diana.
It was near the modern Djarsun.


I. Persis or Persia, called in Scripture Paras, and by the
Arabic and Persian writers Pars or Farsistan, is used in two
significations ; first, as applying to Persia Proper, or the coun
try originally inhabited by the Persians ; and, secondly, as de
noting the Persian Empire.

II. Persis, or Persia Proper, was bounded on the north by
Media and Parthia, on the east by Carmania, on the west by
Susiana, and on the southwest and south by the Persian Gulf.
The country included within these limits is as large as modern
France. The southern part, near the coast, is a sandy plain,
almost uninhabitable on account of the heat, and the pestilen
tial winds which blow from the. Desert of Carmania; but at
some distance from the coast the ground rises, and the interior

ASIA. 691

of the country is intersected by numerous mountain ranges.
This part of Persia was the original seat of the conquerors of
Asia, where they were inured to hardship and privation.

III. The principal rivers were, 1. The Araxes, rising in the
mountains of the Parcetaceni, flowing by Persepolis, where it
receives the Medus, coming from Media, and emptying into a
salt lake, now the Lake of Bakhtegan, to the southeast of the
city just mentioned. The Araxes is now the Bend-emir; and
the Medus, the Fanvar or Schamior. 2. The Cyrus, flowing
by Pasargadce, and now probably the Khor.


I. THE Persians, on account of the variety of their soil, were partly nomades,
partly agriculturists. Herodotus enumerates four nomadic or herdsmen castes,
three agricultural, and three warrior castes. These last were called the Pa-
sargada, Maraphii, and Maspii. Of these, the Pasargadas were the noblest, to
the chief clan of which, called the Achamenidce, the royal family of Persia be

II. Herodotus says that the Persians were originally called Artai, which word
probably contains the same root as Arii, the original name of the Medes, and
Arya, the word by which the followers of the Brahmanic religion are designated
in Sanscrit. The same root occurs in Aria and Ariana, from the latter of which
the modern Persian name Iran seems to be derived.

III. At the earliest period of which any trace is preserved, Persis appears to
have formed merely a province of the great Assyrian empire. On the disruption
of this empire it fell under the power of the Medes. The Median yoke was
broken by Cyrus, who laid the foundation of the great Persian empire, which
his successors gradually enlarged, until it embraced the larger portion of Asia,
together with Thrace and Macedonia in Europe, and, in Africa, Egypt, and the
neighboring country of Libya. This empire was overthrown by Alexander, on
whose death Persis fell to the lot of the Seleucida. It was wrested from them
subsequently by the Parthians, and from these last it afterward passed into the
hands of the Sassanidce, or new Persian dynasty.


1 . Pasargada, a very ancient city, and the royal residence previous to the
founding of Persepolis. It is said to have been built by Cyrus after his victory
over Astyages the Mode, which he gained near this place. The kings of Persia,
according to Plutarch, were consecrated here by the Magi, and here also was
the tomb of Cyrus. The position of Pasargadae has been a subject of much dis
pute. Many modern writers, following Morier and Sir R. K. Porter, have been
disposed to place it in what is now the plain of Murghab, about fifty miles north
east of Persepolis. Lassen, however, thinks that we ought to look for it to the
southeast of Persepolis, in the neighborhood of Darabgherd or Farsa. 2. Persep
olis, the capital of Persia, situate in an extensive plain near the junction of the
Araxes and Medus. The Greek writers speak of its citadel, surrounded by a
triple wall, and containing within its inclosure the royal treasury, palace, and
the tombs of the kings. The palace was burned by Alexander in a fit of intox-


ication, and the city was plundered by the Macedonian soldiery. Persepolis was
not, however, laid in ruins on this occasion, as some have supposed, but is men
tioned by subsequent writers as still existing ; and even in a later age, under
the sway of Mohammedan princes, this city, with its name changed to Istakhar,
was their usual place of residence. Oriental historians say that the Persian
name for Persepolis was likewise Istakhar or Estakhar. The ruins of Persepo
lis, or, rather, a part of them, are now called Tchil-Minar, that is, " the forty (or
many) pillars," and are described in Sir R. K. Porter s Travels. 3. Gaba, an
other royal residence, near Pasargadae. 4. Aspadana, probably the modern Is


I. Carmania was a large province, having Persis on the
west, Gedrosia on the east, the Persian Gulf&ud Mare Eryth-
rceurn to the south, and Parthia on the north. It answers to
the modern Kcrman, together with the easternmost portion of
Laristan and Moghistan. The country was little known to
the ancient Greeks and Romans, their acquaintance with it
being derived merely from Alexander s march through it to In
dia, and from the circumstance of the Seleucidse having held
a part of it subsequently under their sway.

II. The northern part was a desert; the remainder of the
country the ancients represent as extremely productive, espe
cially in grapes, yielding clusters of these more than two feet
long. The other products were, gold in one of the rivers, silver,
copper, cinnabar, arsenic, corn, salt, together with abundance
of asses.


AMONG the places in Carmania deserving of mention we may merely particu
larize here, 1. Carmdna, the chief town, some distance inland, and now Khirman.
2. Harmuza, in the district of Harmozia, on the coast, at the entrance of the
Persian Gulf, near the modern Minau. The promontory of Harmozon, near this
place, is now Cape Kuhestek. The ancient name of Harmuza was corrupted in
time to Ormuz, and became the modern and well-known name of the island an
ciently called Organa, lying off this coast. 3. Sidodone, on the coast, toward the
western frontier, the inhabitants of which, as well as their cattle, lived and still
live on fish. It is now Lundje. Among the islands off the coast we may name,
1. Organa, now Ormuz, already mentioned. 2. Cataa, sacred to Neptune and
Venus, and to which the inhabitants of the coast brought yearly offerings ; now
Kisch or Kenn. 3. Ooracta, a large and fruitful island, containing the tomb of
King Erythras, who once ruled over all these shores, and after whom the Mare
Erythraum was named. It is now Dsjisme or Khishme.


I. Gedrosia lay between Carmania and India, having the
Mare Erythrceum on the south, and running back as far as

ASIA. 693

Aria on the north. The northern part was mountainous, and
tolerably productive ; but the southern portion, lying along the
coast, was hardly any thing more than a desert. The whole
country answers to the modern Mekran, one of the provinces
of Beloochistan.

II. According to Strabo, the southern part of Gedrosia
abounded in aromatics, especially nard and myrrh. The coast
was inhabited by the Ichthyophagi, a name given to these tribes
by the Greeks, from their living entirely on fish. They were
a different race from the inhabitants of the more northern parts,
which would seem to have been of the same stock with the

III. The army of Alexander marched through southern Ge
drosia on their return from India, and suffered great hardships
from scarcity of water and from the columns of moving sand.
The armies of Semiramis and Cyrus, long before this, are said
to have suffered still more severely from the same causes.


I. MEDIA was bounded on the north by Armenia, on the south
by Susiana and Persis, on the west by Assyria, and on the
east by Parthia. It answers now to Azerbijan, Shirvan,
Ghilan, the western half of Mazanderan, and the northern
part of Irak. It was divided into three great districts, name
ly, Southern or Great Media, Media Atropatene, or the north
western part, and Northern Media.

II. The ancient writers with one voice extol the productive
ness of Media, especially of the district of Atropatene. It
yielded grain, honey, oranges, citron, salt, wine, figs, silphium,
excellent horses, &c. Its great productiveness, together with
its excellent and numerous population, and also its being de
fended on every side by mountain chains, made Media one of
the most important provinces of the Persian empire. On the
northern borders was the chain of Mons Caspius ; on the west
ern and southern, that of Mons Parachoathras ; on the east,
that of Mons Zagrus ; and branching off from this in a north
western direction was Mons lasonius. The rivers were unim
portant. In the northwestern part of the country was a large
salt lake called Spauta, now the Lake of Urmi.



I. ACCORDING to Herodotus, the Medes were originally called Arii, a word
which contains the same root as Ar-tai, the ancient name of the Persians. Me
dia originally formed part of the Assyrian empire, but its history as an inde
pendent kingdom is given so differently by Herodotus and Ctesias as to render
it probable that the latter must refer to a different dynasty in eastern Asia.

II. According to the account of Herodotus, there were four kings of Media,
namely, 1. Deioces, who reigned B.C. 710-657. 2. Phraortes, B.C. 657-635, who
greatly extended the Median empire, subdued the Persians, and many other
nations, and fell in an expedition against the Assyrians of Nineveh. 3. Cyax-
ares, B.C. 635-595, who completely organized the military force of the empire,
and extended its boundaries as far west as the Halys. He also took Nineveh,
and overthrew the Assyrian empire. 4. Astyages, B.C. 595-560, who was de
throned by his grandson Cyrus, and Media reduced to a Persian province.


1. Ecbatana, or, more correctly, Agbatana, the ancient capital of Media, found
ed by Deioces, and situated in a plain at the foot of a lofty mountain called Oron-
tcs. It was built on a conical kind of hill, and cc-nsisted of seven inclosures or
walls, rising one above the other, and each of a different color, the sixth being
silvered and the seventh gilt. Ecbatana, being in a high and mountainous coun
try, was a favorite summer residence of the Persian monarchs, and subsequently
of the Arsacidae or Parthian kings, as well as those of the Sassanian or new
Persian dynasty. It existed as a large and fortified city down even to the close
of the fourth century. Its site is occupied by the modern Ramadan. 2. Rhaga,
to the northeast of Ecbatana, and near the Caspian Gates. It was the largest
city in Media. Seleucus Nicator rebuilt it on its having been destroyed by an
earthquake, and changed the name to Euro-pus. It was again destroyed in the
Parthian wars, and rebuilt by Arsaces, who called it Arsacia. It still existed ia
the Middle Ages under the name of Rai, but was subsequently destroyed by the
Tartars. This city is often mentioned in the book of Tobit, as the place where
many of the Jews resided who had been carried away captive by Shalmaneser.
Near Rhagae was the Nissean plain, celebrated for its breed of horses, which
were considered in ancient times the best in Asia. Arrian informs us that there
were fifty thousand horses reared in this plain in the time of Alexander, and that
there were formerly as many as one hundred and fifty thousand. 3. Bagistana,
to the southwest of Ecbatana, on the great commercial road leading from the
latter city to Ctesiphon. It is now Behistun. The name Bagistana is said to
mean " the place of the Bagas," or deities, and in the vicinity of the place was
Mount Bagistanus, which the Greeks made sacred to Jupiter. This mountain
is now more correctly termed the " sacred rock of Behistun." According to the
ancients, it had the figure of Semiramis cut upon it, with a Syrian inscription.

Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 78 of 89)