Joel Dorman Steele.

A brief history of ancient, mediaeval, and modern peoples: with some account ... online

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furniture of elegant design : canopied beds and couches, and curtains
of costly tapestry ; carved stools and tables with feet fashioned like
gazelle-hoofs ; and, in the palace, luxurious chairs, and articles sacred
to gods and the king. In the west end of the city, abutting the swift-
flowing Tigris, is a high plat-
form covering one hundred
acres, on which stands the
magnificent palace of Asshur-
banipal. Near it is the still
larger one built by Sennach-
erib, his grandfather, and
about it are parks and hanging
gardens. The palaces have
immense portals guarded by
colossal winged and human-
headed bulls and lions ; great
court-yards paved with ele-
gantly patterned slabs; and
arched doorways, elaborately

sculptured and faced by eagle- colobral humah-hkadbd winged bull.
headed deities. We miss the

warm, glowing colors so generously lavished on Egyptian temples.
There are traces of the painter, but his tints are more subdued and
more sparingly used. It is the triumphant day of the sculptor and the
enameler. Asshurbanipal sits on his carved chair, arrayed in his em-
broidered robe and mantle. On his breast rests a large circular orna-
ment wrought with sacred emblems ; golden rosettes glitter on his red-
and-white tiara, and rosettes and crescents adorn his shoes. He wears
a sword and daggers, and holds a golden scepter. Necklaces, armlets,
bracelets, and ear-rings add to his costume. Behind him is his parasol-
bearer, grasping with both hands a tall, thick pole supporting a fringed
and curtained shade. His Grand Vizier — ^who interprets his will to
the people, and whose dress approaches his own in magnificence —
stands before him in an attitude of passive reverence to receive the
royal orders; the scribes are waiting to record the mandate, and a
host of attendants are at hand to perform it.

Scene m. — A Royal Lion-hunt — To-day it is a lion-hunt. At
the palace gates, surrounded by a waitAng retinue, stands the king's
chariot, headed by three richly caparisoned horses, champing bronze
bits and gayly tinkling the bells on their tasseled collars, while grooms
hold other horses to be placed before the chariots of high officials, af tei

BQH-«



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68 BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA.

the monarch shall have mounted. As the king steps into the box-like
chariot, his two favorite eunuchs adjust the well-stocked quivers, put
in the long spears, and enter behind him ; the charioteer loosens the
reins, and the horses start at full speed. At the park, or *^ paradise,"
a large circuit is inclosed by a double rampart of spearmen and archers,
and a row of hounds held in leashes. Here the lions kept for the
king's sport wait in their cages. Having arrived at the park and
received a ceremonious salute, the king gives the order to release the
wild beasts. Cautiously creeping out from their cages, they seem at
first to seek escape; but the spearmen's large shields and bristling
weapons dazzle their eyes ; the fierce dogs, struggling in their leashes,
howl in their ears ; and the king's well-aimed arrows quickly enrage
them to combat. Swifter and swifter fly the darts. The desperate
beasts spring at the chariot sides only to receive death-thrusts from
the spears of the attendants, while the excited king shoots rapidly on



THE ROYAL LION-llUMT (FKOM THK SCULI'TUUES).

in front. Now one has seized the chariot-wheel with his huge paws,
and grinds it madly with his teeth ; but he, too, falls in convulsions
to the ground. The sport fires the blood of the fierce Asshurbanii)al.
He jumps from his chariot, orders fresh lions to bo released, grasps
his long spear, selects the most ferocious for a hand-to-hand combat,
furiously dispatches him, and, amid the deafening shouts of his ad-
miring courtiers, proclaims his royal content. The hunt is over ; the
dead lions have been collected for the king's inspection, and are now
bonie on the shoulders of men in a grand procession to the palace,
whither the king precedes them. The chief officers of the royal house-
hold come out to welcome him ; the cup-bearer brings wine, and, while
the king refreshes himself, busily plies his long fly-whisk about the
royal head, the musicians meantime playing merrily upon their harps.
It remains to offer the finest and bravest of the game to the god of the
chase; and four of the largest lions are accordingly selected and
arranged side by side before the altar. The king and his attendants,



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THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. 69

all keeping time to formal musie, march in stately majesty to the
shrine, where Asshurbanipal raises the sacred cup to his lips, and
slowly pours the solemn libation. A new sculpture depicting the grand
event of the day is ordered, and beneath it is inscribed, —

*' I, AashurUaiilpal, king of the nations, king of Assyria, in my great courage,
flgbtlng on foot with a lion terrible for its size, seized him by the ear, and in the
name of Aashor and of Ishtar, Goddess of War, with the spear that was in my hand
1 terminated his life.**

Scene TV.—Asshurbanijxd going to W^ar.— The king goes to war in
his chariot, dressed in his most magnificent attire, and attended by a
retinue of fan-bearers, parasol-bearers, bow, quiver, and mace-bearers.
About these gather his body-guard of foot-spearmen, each one bran-
dishing a tall spear and protected by scale-armor, a pointed helmet,
and a great metal shield. The detachment of horse-archers which
follows is also dressed in coats of mail, leather breeches, and jack-
boots. Before and behind the royal cortege stretches the army — a vast
array of glancing helmets, speara, shields, and battle-axes; war-
riors in chariots, on horse, and on foot; heavy-armed archers in
helmet and aimor, with the strung bow on the shoulders and the
highly decorated quiver filled with bronze or iron-headed arrows on
the back ; light-armed arohera with embroidered head-bands and short
tunics, and bare arms, limbs, and feet; spearmen who carry great
wicker shields, which are made, in case of need, to join and furnish
boats; and troops of slingei*s, mace-bearers, and ax-bearers. The
massive throne of the king is in the cavalcade ; upon this, when the
battle or siege is ended, he will sit in great state to receive the prisoners
and spoil. Here, too, ai*e his drinking-cups and washing -bowls, his
low-wheeled pleasure-chair, his dressing-table, and other toilet lux-
uries. Battering-rams, scaling-ladders, baggage-carts, and the usual
paraphernalia of a great army make up the rear, where also in carefully
closed arabas are the king's wives, who, with the whole court, follow
him to war. The Niuevites come out in crowds to see the start ; the
musicians — ^who, however, remain at home — ^play a brisk farewell on
double-pipes, harps, and drum ; the women and children, standing in
procession, clap their hands and sing; and so, amid 'Hhe noise of the
rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping
chariots " (Nahum iii. 2), the Assyrian army sets off.

Scene V. — A Royal Banquet, — ^After many days the host comes
back victorious (the sculptors never record defeat*), bringing great
spoil of gold, silver, and fine furniture, countless oxen, sheep, horses,
and camels, prisoners of war, and captured foreign gods: Rejoicing
and festivities abound. A royal feast is given in the most magnificent
of the sculptured halls, where the tables glitter with gold and silver
Btai^ds laden with dried locusts, pomegranates, grapes, and citrons.



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70 BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA.

There are choice meats, hare, and game-birds, and an abundance of
mixed wine in the huge vases from which the busy attendants fill the
beakers of the guest*. Afterward the king invites
the queen from her seclusion in the beautiful harem
to sup with him in the garden. At this banquet
the luxurious Asshiirbanipal reclines on a couch,
leaning his left elbow on a cushioned pillow, and
holding in his hand a lotus, here, as in Egypt, the
sacred flower. A table with dishes of incense stands
by his couch, at the foot of which sits his hand-
some queen. Her tunic is fringed and patterned in
the elaborate Assyrian style, and she is resplendent
with jewelry. A grape-vine shelters the royal pair,
and behind each of them stand two fan-bearers
with long brushes, scattering the troublesome flies.
Meantime the king and queen sip wine from their
golden cups ; the attendants bring in fresh fruits ;

AB8YKIAN KINO AND T\. , , -^ . , . i i. ai.

ATTENDANTS. ^*^® harpcrs play soft music ; and, to complete the
triumph of the feast, from a neighboring tree sur-
rounded by hungry vultures dangles the severed head of the king's
newly conquered enemy.



4. SX7MMABT.

1. Political History.— Our earliest glimpse of Chaldea is of a Tu-
ranian people in temple cities. Later come the Semites, a nomadic
people, who migrate northward, and finally build the Assyrian cities
upon the Tigris. Henceforth war rages between the rival sections, and
the seat of power fluctuates between Babylon and Nineveh. About
1300 B. c. Babylon is overwhelmed, and for nearly 700 years Nineveh
is the seat of empire. Here the Sargonidie — Sennacherib, Esarhaddon,
and Asshurbanipal — develop the Golden Age of Assyrian rule. The
Babylonians, however, continue to revolt, and in 747 B. c. Nabonasser
ascends the Babylonian throne, destroys the records of all the kings
before his time, and establishes a new era from which to reckon dates.
In 606 B. c. Nineveh is finally overthrown by the Babylonians and the
Medes, and Nabopolasser establishes the second Babylonian Empire.
Nebuchadnezzar subdues the surrounding nations, humiliates Egypt,
captures Tyre, crushes Judea, and with his captives brought back to
Babylon makes that city the marvel of all eyes. It is, however, the
last of her glory. Within the next quarter of a century Babylon is
taken by the stratagem of Cyrus the Great, Belshazzar is slain, and the
mighty city falls, never again to rise to her ancient glory.



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SUMMARY. 71

2. OiTilizatioiL — The Early Chaldeans bnild Tast temples of sun-
diied brick cemented with bitumen ; write in cuneiform characters on
clay tablets ; engrave signet cylinders ; use implements of stone, flint,
and bronze; manufacture cloth; make boats and navigate the sea.
They are learned in astronomy and arithmetic ; discover the equinoctial
precession (Steele's Astronomy, p. 121) ; divide the day into twenty-
four hours ; draw maps, record phenomena, invent dials, and calculate
a table of squares. They place their houses on high platforms, make
their furniture of date-wood, and use tableware of clay or bronze.
The palm-tree furnishes them food. Their dead are buried in large
clay jara, or in dish-covered tombs, or are laid to rest in arched brick
vaults.



IRTKBIOB COURT- YARD OF A MODEBM OBIBNTAL HOUSE.

Tfie Jesip-ianSf their Semitic conquerors, are a fierce, warlike race,
skillful in agriculture, in blowing glass and shaping pottery, in casting
and embossing metals, and in engi'aving gems. They dye, weave,
and are superior in plastic art. They build great palaces, adorning
them with sculptured alabaster slabs, colossal bulls and lions, paved
courts, and eagle-headed deities. They, too, write upon clay tablets,
and cover terra-cotta cylinders with cuneiform inscriptions. Their
principal gods are the heavenly bodies. They do not worship animals,
like the Egyptians, but place images of clay, stone, or metal in their
temples, and treat them as real deities. Magic and sorcery abound.
There is no caste among the people, but all are at the mercy of the
king. Women are not respected as in Egypt, and they live secluded
in their own apartments. Clay books are collected and libraries
founded, but most of the learning comes from the conquered race, and
the Chaldean is the classic language.



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72 BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA.

The Bdbylanians are a luxurious people. Industries flourish and
commerce is extensive. Babylonian robes and tapestries surpass all
others in texture and hue. Far below Assyria in the art of sculptured
bas-relief, Babylonia excels in brick-enameling, and is greatly the supe-



THS 81TB OK ANCIENT BABYLON.

rior in originality of invention, literary culture, and scientific attain-
ment. From her Assyria draws her learning, her architecture, her
religion, her legal forms, and many of her customs.

" In Babylonia almost every branch of science made a beginning. She was the
source to which the entire stream of Eastern civilization may be traced. It Is
scarcely too much to say that, but for Babylon, real civilization might not even yet
have dawned upon the earth, and raanlcind might never have advancetl beyond that
spurious and false form of it which in Egypt, India, China, Japan, Mexico, and
Ptern, contented the aspirations of the people."— J^atoMturon** Ancient Monarehiea.

READING REFERENCES.

RawlimorVt Hittory of Ancient Monarchies.— Fergtuson' it History of Architecture,
and Palacee of Nineveh and Persepolis Restored.— Layard's Monuments of Nineveh,
and Nineveh and its Bemains.— Records of the Past ( New Series).— Sayee's Babylonian
Literature; Assyria, its Princes, Priests, and People; and Fresh Lights from An-
cient Monuments.— Perrot and Chipiez's History of Art in ChaXdea and Assyria.—
George Smith*s Chaldean Account of Genesis (Revised) ; Assyrian Discoveries; and
Early History of Assyria. -Loftus's Chaldea and 8usiana.—Also the General Ancient
Histories named on p. 44.

CHRONOLOGY.

B.a

Sargon 1 3800?

Ur-«a(Uruch) 2800f

Khammuragus 2280?

Rise of Assyria T 1300

Era of Nabonassar 747

Fall of Nineveh e06t

Cyrus captured Babylon 538

Alexander captured Babylon 851



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PHCENICIA.



The Phoenicians were Semites. They inhabited a bar-
ren strip of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean,
not more than one hundred and eighty miles long and
a dozen broad. The country was never united under one
king, but each city was a sovereignty by itself. A powerful
aristocracy was connected with these little monarchies, but
the bulk of the people were slaves brought from foreign
countries. The principal cities were Sidon and Tyre,^
which successively exercised a controlling influence over the
others. The chief defense of the Phoenicians lay in their
naval power. Situated midway between the east and the
west, and at the junction of three continents, they carried
on the ti'ade of the world.^ The Mediterranean became the
mere highway of their commerce. They passed the Strait
of Gibi-altar on one hand, and reached India on the other.

They settled Cyprus, Sicily, and Sardinia. In Spain
they founded Gades (now Cadiz) ; and in Africa, Utica and
Cai-thage, the latter destined to be in time the dreaded rival
of Rome. They planted depots on the Persian Gulf and the

Geographie<il QumNotw. -Bound Phcenicia. Ix>cate Tyre; Sldon. Name the
prlDcipal Phcenioian colonies. Where was Carthage 1 Utlcal Tarshish? Gades 1
The Pillars of Hercules 1

1 Tsrre, which was founded by Sidonians, has been called Uie Dangliter of Sidon
and tlie Mother of Carthage.

' Read the 27th chapter of Eseklel for a graphic account of the Plicenician com*
merco in his day.



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74



PHCENICIA.



Red Sea. They obtained tin from the British Isles, amber
from the Baltic,^ silver from Tarshish (southern Spain), and




A
PHCENICIA
and the
DOMINION OF

JUDEA;

TIME OF KING SOLOMON.
Scale oflMllet



gold from Ophir (southeastern Arabia). In connection with
their maritime trade they established great conmiercial

1 Over their land trade routes. Amber also exinted near Sidon. They carefully
concealed tlio source of their supplies. An outward-bound Phcenician captain once
found himself followed b3' a Koman ship. To preserve his secret and destroy his
follower, he ran his own vessel on the rocks. Tlie government made up his loss.



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1000 b. C] PHCENICIA. 75

routes by which their merchants penetrated the interior of
Europe and Asia. With the growth of Carthage and the
rising power of Greece they lost their naval supremacy.
But the land traffic of Asia remained in their hands ; and
their caravans, following the main traveled route through
Palmyra, Baalbec, and Babylon, permeated all the Orient.



TIIK RUINS OF ANCIENT TYRE.



lioss of Independence. — Rich merchant cities were
tempting prizes in those days of strife. From about 850
B. c, Phoenicia became the spoU of each of the great con-
querors who successively achieved empire. It was made a
province, in turn, of Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Egypt,
Greece, and finally Rome. The Phoenicians patiently sub-
mitted to the oppression of these various masters, and paid
their tribute at Memphis or Nineveh, as the case might be.
To them the mere question of liberty, or the amount of
their taxes, was a small one compared with the opening or



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76 PHCENIOIA. [880-140 B. a

closing of their great routes of trade. The general avoid-
ance of war, except as they entered the service of their
foreign masters, must have arisen from self-interest, and not
from cowardice, since the Phoenician navigator displayed a
courage shaming that of the mere soldier.

Carthage,^ the most famous Phoenician colony, was
founded, according to legend, about 880 b. c, by Dido, who
came thither with a body of aristocrats fleeing from the
democratic party of Tj^e. The location of Carthage was
African, but its origin and language were Asiatic. The
policy of the warlike daughter proved very unlike that of the
peaceful mother. The young city, having gained wealth by
commerce, steadily pushed her conquests among the neigh-
boring tribes inch by inch, until, by the 7th century b. c,
she reached the frontier of .Numidia. No ancient people
rivaled her in abUity to found colonies. These were all
kept subject to the parent city, and their tribute enriched
her treasury. Of the history of Carthage we know little,
and stiQ less of her laws, customs, and life. No Punic
orator, philosopher, historian, or poet has left behind any
fragment to tell of the thoughts that stirred or the events
that formed this wonderful people. Had it not been for the
desolating wars that accompanied her fall, we should hardly
know that such a city and such a nation ever existed.



1 Carthage was bnllt on a peninsala about three miles wide. Across this was
constructed a triple wall with lofty towers. A single wall defended the city on every
side next the sea. The streets were lined with massive houses laviHhly adorned
with the riches of the Punic traders. Two long piers reached out into the sea,
forming a double harbor,— the outer for merchant ships, and the inner for tlie na^y.
In the center of the inner harbor was a lofty island crowned with the admiral's
palace. Around this island and the entire circumference of the inner harbor ex-
tended a maible colonnade of Ionic pillars two stories high ; the lower story forming
the fro3t of the curve<l galleries for the protection of the ships ; and the upper, of
the rooms for workshops, storehouses, etc. The limits of the city were twenty-t<hree
miles, and it was probably more populous than Rome. Its navy was the largest
in the world, and in the sea-fight with Begulus comprised 350 vessels, carrying
160,000 men.



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THE CIVILIZATION. 77



THE OIVILIZATIOK.

CiviUeation, — "Assyria and Egypt were the birthplaces of ma-
terial eiyilizatioii, and the Phoenicians were its missionaries/' The
depots of the Phoenician merchants were centers whence germs
of culture were scattered broadcast. To Europe and Africa these
traders brought the arts and refinements of the older and more
advanced East.

Literature. — But the Phoenicians were more than mere carriers.
To them we are said to owe the alphabet,^ which came to us, with
some modifications, through the Greeks and Romans. Unfortu-
nately no remains of Phoenician literature survive. Treatises on
agriculture and the useful arts are said to have been numerous ;
Debir, a Canaanite (probably Phoenician) town of Palestine, was
termed the " book-city."

Arts and Inventions. — The Phoenicians were the first to notice the
connection of the moon with the tides, and apply astronomy prac-
tically to navigation. They carried on vast mining operations, and
were marvelous workers in ivory, pottery, and the metals, so that
their bronzes and painted vases became the models of early Gre-
cian art. The prize assigned by Achilles for the foot-race at the
funeral of Patrocles (Iliad; XXIII., 471) was —

"A bowl of solid silver, deftly wronght.
That held six measures, and in beauty far
Surpassed whatever else the world could boast ;
Since men of Sldon skilled in glyptic art
Had made it, and Phcenlclan mariners
Had brought it with them over the dark sea.'* >

1 According to general belief, the Phcenicians selected from the Egyptian hieratic
twenty-two letters, making each represent a definite articulation. Twelve of these
we retain with nearly their Phoenician value. But the age and origin of the alphabet
are stiU under discussion. Mr. Petrie says that the inscribed potsherds found by him
(1890) in Egypt ** peint to the Independent existence of the Phoenician and perhaps
the Greek alphabet at least 2000 b. c. ; '* while Prof. Sayce, speaking of recent dis-
ooverles (1880) in Arabia, remarks, " Instead of seeking in Phoenicia the primitive home
of our alphabet, we may have to look for it in Arabia."

« Until recently no specimen of pure Phoenician art was known to exist Luigl
Palma di Cesnola, former CTonsul to the Island of Cyprus, In his excavations on that
island, uncovered the sites of seventeen cities, and opene<l many thousand tombs.
Here he found countless Egjrptlan, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, and Phoenician
ireasures, dating from before the time of Thothmes III. (p. 17), whose ofBcial seal he
exhumed. The Phoenician tombs were several feet below the Grecian ; one city hav-
ing; perished and another sprung up, " which, in tuni, buried its dead, unconscious of
tbe oldev sepulcher below. Time had left no human remains except a few skuUs, to
some of which still adhered the gold leaf placed by the Phoenicians over the mouth of
^eirdead."



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78 PHCENICIA.

Sidon was noted for its glass- working, in which the blow-pipe,
lathe, and graver were used. The costly pmple dye of Tyre, ob-
tained in minute drops from shell-fish, was famous, the rarest and
most beautiful shade being worn only by kings. The Phoenicians
were celebrated for their perfumes, and had a reputation for
nicety of execution in all ornamental arts. When Solomon was
about to build the great Jewish Temple, Ring Hiram sent, at his
request, " a cunning man of Tyi'e, skillful to work in gold, in silver,



in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber ; in purple, in blue, in
crimson, and in fine linen ; also to grave any manner of graving,
and to find out every device which shall be put to him."

Their Beligion resembled that of the Chaldeans and Assyiians,
but was more cruel. Baal and Moloch were great gods connected
with the sun. They were worshiped in gi'oves on high places,
amid the wild cries and self -mutilations of their votaries. Before
and after a battle (if victorious) large nimibera of human beings



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THE CIVILIZATION. 79

were sacrificed. Melcarth, the special god of Tyre, united the
attributes of Baal and Moloch. He was a Hercules who pulled back
the sun to the earth at the time of the solstices, moderated all
extreme weather, and counteracted the evil signs of the zodiac ; his
symbol was that of the Persian Ormazd, — a never-ceasing flame
(p. 98). Astartej or Ashtaroth, goddess of fire and chief divinity of
Sidon, became the wife of Melcarth ; she symbolized the moon.

Cliildren were the favoiiie offerings to Molocli. At Jomsalem (2 Kings xxiiL 10)
tlie hollow metal image of tlie Tyrian god was heated by a fire beueatli it, the
priest placed the child in tlie idol's glowing Iiauds, and drims were beaten to drown
the Utile 8nfllprer*8 cries. 8o common were such saci-ifices, tliat one historian Bays the
Plioeniciaus offered some relative on the occasion of any great calamity ; and wlien
the Carthaginians were besieged by Agatliocles, tyrant of Sicily, they devoted two
hundred of their noblest children in a public saciifice. Even in Roman Carthage
these horrible sights were revived, and infants were publicly offered till Tiberius,



Online LibraryJoel Dorman SteeleA brief history of ancient, mediaeval, and modern peoples: with some account ... → online text (page 7 of 55)