Robert William Rogers.

A history of Babylonia and Assyria, Volume 1 online

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epoch-making both in its suggestions and in its
conclusions. In a few pages he reviewed the his-
tory of the observations made at Babylon, and
then connected the inscribed stones there found
with the Persepolitan inscriptions. His state-
ments on these points well deserve repetition:

'^It is well known that for more than a century
past, about which time the Persepolitan inscrip-
tions were first discovered by European travel-
lers, the opinions have been much divided
respecting these characters. Some have be-
lieved them to be talismans, and others the
characters of the Gv^hreSy or antient inhabitants
of Persia; others held them for mere hiero"
glyphics, and others for alpfiabetic characters,
like ours. Kaempfer supposed them to express
whole ideas, like the Chinese characters, but
that they had been appropriated solely for the
palace of Istakhar. . . .

''By the Babylonian bricks here exhibited, the
whole difficulty in regard to their origin is re-
moved; as it is evident that Babylon^ in point of
cultivation, was much earlier than PersepoliSf
and that the Chaldeans were a celebrated peo-
ple, when the name of the Persians was scarcely

It must be remembered that this little book of
Hager was written before the Persepolis inscrip-

> Ibid., pp. xvii, rviii.

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EXPLOHATIOXS, 1734-1820 139

tions had been deciphered at all, and this makes
all the more remarkable the generalizations of
this gjfted man, who seemed to foresee the very
conclusions to which men would come when both
the inscriptions of Persepolis and these new texts
were finally deciphered. Even beyond these de-
ductions was Hager led to go, when he summed
up his conclusions at the end of his volume,^ for
there he claimed that even the Assyrians must
have used the same method of writing — and this
before he had even so much as seen an Ass3Tian
inscription of any kind.

Hager's little book had an influence out of all
proportion to its size. The great tomes of many
travelers had utterly failed to excite more than a
passing interest. His book was soon translated
into Grerman and made a distinct impression
upon Grotefend, then deeply absorbed in his ef-
forts to decipher the records of the Achaemenian
kings. In its English form it became known in
France, there to inspire the archaeologist, A. L.
MiUin, to publish in facsimile^ a small inscribed
stone brought several years before from the
neighborhood of Baghdad to Paris by the bot-

>That these characters were the Chaldaic characters with which,
aooording to Athsnjbus, the epitaphium of Sardanapalus at Nineveh
was engraved; the Astvriac characters mentioned by Hbbodotus,
DiODOBua, PoLTJBKus, and other ancient authors. — Ibid.t p. 61. And
on his title page he set Pliny's telling phrase: LUena temper arbitror
A$eyria8 fu%»9e.

* Monuments AnHquee inidiU ou nouveUement expliquSa, par A. L.
Millin. Pans, 1802, tome i, pp. 68, sqq. DSeeriplion cTun monumtni
pen^polUain^ qui appartierU au Muaium de la BibHotfUqut Nationalc,
with two beautiful plates.

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anist Michaux. The article of Millin called this
little mscription a "Persepolitan monument/'
though his own statements show that it came
not from from Persepolis, but from Babylonia.
His copy of this beautiful little inscription was
another added to the increasing list of objects
which awakened in men the belief that beneath
the mounds at and about Hillah must lie buried
great stores of monuments of the past of Baby-

While these publications were appearing, and
while men were still curiously examining the
East India House inscriptions, a man was pre-
paring for a work which would demonstrate the
truth of these hopes and astonish the world with
unsuspected discoveries.

Claudius James Rich, who had been bom at
Dijon, France, in 1787, but spent his childhood
at Bristol, England, and there secured his ear-
liest education, went early in life to Bombay in
the service of the East India Company. Gifted
extraordinarily with a love for languages and
with a readiness in their acquiring, he there made
himself acquainted with Latin and Greek, and
especially with Hebrew, Aramaean, Persian,
Arabic, and even somewhat with Chinese.
Later, by fortunate accidents, he had found
opportunity to continue his Oriental studies at
Constantinople and at Smyrna, and then in
Egypt; while a sojourn in Italy put the language
of that people at his service. Before he was

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EXPLORATIONS, 1734-1820 141

twenty-four years of age he had been appointed
the resident of the East India Company at
Baghdad. Though he had not probably been
consciously preparing for this particular post, all
that he had learned and much that he had ex-
perienced now became of the greatest service to
him. In the beginning of his residence at Bagh-
dad he appears to have been most interested by
the city itself and its inunediately surrounding
country, and began the collection of materials
for a history of its Pashalic. In 1811, however,
he was in some way led to visit the ruins of
ancient Babylon, and at once there was awak-
ened in him a new passion. On December 10,
1811, he saw for the first time the great mounds,
to which he was now to devote so much energy
and enthusiasm. His first impressions were dis-
tinctly disappointing. When he could secure the
first opportunity to write them down he said:

"From the accounts of modem travelers I had
expected to have found on the site of Babylon
more, and less, than I actually did. Less, be-
cause I could have formed no conception of the
prodigious extent of the whole ruins, or of the
size, solidity, and perfect state of some of the par-
ticular parts of them; and more, because I
thought that I should have distinguished some
traces, however imperfect, of many of the prin-
cipal structures of Babylon. I imagined, I should
have said: 'Here were the waUs, and such must
have been the extent of the area. There stood

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the palace, and this most assuredly was the
tower of Belus/ I was completely deceived; in-
stead of a few insulated mounds, I found the
whole face of the country covered with the
vestiges of building; in some places consisting of
brick walls surprisingly fresh, in others merely
of a vast succession of mounds of rubbish of such
indeterminate figures, variety, and extent as to
involve the person who should have formed any
theory in inextricable confusion and contradic-

This first visit of Rich to Babylon was brief,
for he was back again in Baghdad on December
21. In that short time, however, he had planned
all the mounds, and had correctly located them
by astronomical observations. He also tested
the mounds by digging into them in several
places, of which the following words may serve
as a suflScient description:

"I went with ten men with pickaxes and
shovels to make experiments on the Mujelib^;
they dug into the heaps on the top, and found
layers of burnt bricks, with inscriptions laid in
mortar. A kind of parapet of unbumt bricks
appears to have surrounded the whole. On the
western face the mud bricks were not only laid
on reeds, but mixed up with them. In the north-

> Fundffnben des OrienU, bearbeitet durch eine Oesellachaft von LiMa-
hem. Wien, 1813, p. 129. The narrative of Rich extends pp. 129-162,
and also pp. 197-200. The pages 129-162 are reprinted in the volume
edited by his widow. Narrative of a Journey to the Site of Bahyttm in
1861, now first publiahedt etc. London, 1839.

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EXPLOEATIONS, 1734-1820 143

em face, where a part is also still standing, the
bricks are not mixed up with reeds, but only laid
on layers of them; here I found some beams of
the date tree, specimens of which I brought
away. The part of the mud wall standing on
the west front is not thick; that on the northern
side is more so, but none of them are of any
considerable thickness. On the north front the
height of the whole pile to the top of the parapet
is 132 feet. The southeast angle is higher."^

From these walls he took specimens of the in-
scribed building bricks, and likewise, when pos-
sible, purchased from the inhabitants various
smaller inscriptions, which were later to form a
part of the treasures of the British Museum.
Rich's work at that time seemed small in
amount, but it was the first serious survey of
all the mounds, and has formed from that day
to this the basis for every subsequent examina-
tion of them. So carefully had his work been
done that he required, upon later acquaintance,
to change his conclusions but slightly. His first
account was, strangely enough, published in
Vienna, but it was eagerly read and discussed
m London. Free as it had been from theorizing,
it, nevertheless, called forth a review and criti-
cbm from Major Rennell, who argued that Rich
had not properly considered the allusions of
classical historians and geographers, and had
therefore improperly identified some ruins. Ren-

> Ibid., p. 20.

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nell's paper detennined Rich to visit the ruins
again, to verify or to correct his first statements.
In his second visit he did find some things to
correct, but in the main confirmed and estab-
lished his former conclusions. The results of
this visit were written out at Baghdad in the
month of July, 1817, and, like the first publica-
tion of Rich, carried forward very distinctly the
investigation of the ancient city.

Rich had already achieved enough to gain
fame, but he was to do still more for Oriental
study, not, indeed, at Babylon, but at the other
chief center, the city of Nineveh. In April, 1820,
he set out from Baghdad to escape its heat by a
journey in Kurdistan, and this was productive of
valuable results in the geography of a land then
but little visited by Europeans. In this journey
Mr. Rich reached Mosul on October 31, 1820,
and there spent four months. The experience
which had been gained in his work at Babylon
was now splendidly used. He visited and
sketched with plans every one of the great
mounds which might be considered as forming
a part of the ancient city of Nineveh. The
first of these mounds to be explored was that
known among the natives as Neby Yunus, be-
cause it was supposed to contain the tomb of
the prophet Jonah. Here he learned that even
a cursory examination by means of the spade
would uncover inscriptions, and some that had
been found by the natives were shown to him.

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Copyright by liulorwood & Underwood, N. Y.


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View from Mosul, looking across the Tigris, toward
the mound of Kuyimjik in the middle distance.

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EXPLORATIONS, 1734-1820 145

They were written in cuneiform characters
which Rich of course could not read, but some
were secured for the British Museum, where
their influence would soon be felt. From Neby
Yunus Rich transferred his investigations to
Kuyunjik, where he surveyed the mound, drafted
a plan of it, and conversed with the natives,
learning from them little more than that most
of the inscriptions were found at Neby Yunus.

After the investigations at these two mounds
Rich went down the river and studied the
mound of Nimroud, where, as the natives said,
Nimrod is buried. In every Arab village which
he visited Rich found inscriptions in the cunei-
form character. Some which were small enough
to be easily transported he purchased for his col-
lection. Many were, however, monumental in
character, being cut into stones, which the Arabs
had used in the erection of their miserable
hovels. Rich appears to have found no opposi-
tion among the natives to his study of the
mounds, but he did find various suspicions of
himself and of his motives among the more ig-
norant of them. In one of his tours about Mosul
the remark was overheard that he was probably
seeking a suitable place to plant guns and take
the city. The cupidity and fear which rendered
miserable the lives of later explorers did not
trouble him, partly because he knew by long
association the temper of the natives, and so
did not unnecessarily wound their sensibilities,

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and partly because he did not dig up the ground,
as was necessary in the work of his successors,

The inscriptions which Rich had secured soon
came to London, and there formed the nucleus
of the great Assyrian and Babylonian collections
of the British Museum. They showed at the
very first glance that the daring guess of Hager
was correct. They were indeed written in the
same kind of characters as those which had been
sent home to London from the ruins of Babylon.
That fact alone was of so great moment as to
make distinguished all the work of Rich at
Nineveh. He had laid the basis for all future
work in that city, as he had previously done in
Babylon. His plans and drawings must be used
by whoever should next take up the work.

To all this work at Babylon and at Nineveh
Rich was to add useful labor at Persepolis, which
he visited in August, 182L His approach to the
city was graphically described in these words:

''It was dark when we left the bridge of the
Araxes. My expectation was greatly excited.
Chardin, when I was a mere child, had inspired
me with a great desire to see these ruins, and the
desires excited in us in childhood are too vivid
ever to be effaced. Their gratification has a
relish which motives suggested by reason and
judgment are unable afterward to equal. My
late antiquarian researches had, however, also
added their interest to my other inducements;
and as I rode over the plain by the beautiful

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EXPLOBATIONS, 1734-1820 . 147

starlight, reflections innumerable on the great
events that had happened there crowded on my
memory. I was in the moment of enjoying what
I had long waited for; and what a delightful mo-
ment that is! At last the pointed summit began
to detach itself from the line of the mountains to
which we were advancing. Mr. Tod pointed it
out: *Under that lie the ruins.' At that moment
the moon rose with uncommon beauty behind it.
Ages seemed at once to present themselves to my

Here at Persepolis he made more exact copies
of the inscriptions to which already so much dis-
cussion had been given in Europe, and his copies
proved to be of great value to those who were
to engage in the criticism and the perfecting
of the work of Grotefend.^ On the way back
to Baghdad from this visit to Persepolis Rich
died of cholera, at Shiraz, while bravely serving
others who were suffering from the disease.
The man who had wrought so wonderfully for

^ NarraHte of a Retidence in KoordUtan and on the Site of Ancient
Nineveh, with Journal of a voyage down the Tigris to Baghdad, and an
aoooont of a visit to Shiras and Persepolis, by the late Claudius Jamea
Rich, Esq. Edited by his widow. Two volumes. London, 1836, vol.
it p. 218.

* Narrative of a Journey to the Site of Babylon in 1811, now first pub-
Ushed; Memoir on the Ruins; with engravings from the original sketches
by the Author: Remarks on the topography of Ancient Babylon by
Kfajor Rennell; in reference to the Memoir; Second Memoir on the
Ruins in reference to Major Rennell's Remarks: With a narrative of
a Journey to Persepolis: now first printed, with hitherto unpublished
euneiform inscriptions copied at Persepolis: by the late Claudius James
Rich, Esq., formerly the Resident of the Hon. East India Company
at Bagdad. Edited by his widow. London, 1839.

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the study of the ancient world now died a hero
in the humblest service for the poorest of

The impulse which Claudius James Rich gave
to Babylonian and Assyrian study has never yet
lost its effect. Others had done much, indeed,
in awakening interest, and Rich's own testimony
quoted above, shows that Chardin had done this
for him; still others had made observations of
lasting value, while a very few had accurately
determined ancient sites, and so had made pos-
sible his work. All these things, and more, Rich
had accomplished. None who preceded him had
excelled him in inspirational power, for even his
Journal, intended only as the basis of future
careful writing, possessed it, and none had
equaled him in the collecting of definite informa-
tion concerning the ruins both of Nineveh and of
Babylon. His quickening and informing in-
fluence worked wonders in his inmiediate suc-

While Rich was still living in Baghdad, sur-
roimded by a great retinue of servants and
soldiers, in the almost regal state which was
then deemed necessary in order to overawe the
impressible natives, he received a visit from a
fellow countryman, James Silk Buckingham
(1786^1855), who arrived July 16, 1816, and
was greatly impressed by the state in which the
mild-mannered explorer was living. It may
serve to give a picture of the days and the

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EXPLORATIONS, 1734-1820 149

place to let Mr. Buckingham tell something of
the life he saw:

"The only two European consulships at Bagh-
dad are those of the English and French. The
former is an appointment of the East India
Company, with very handsome allowances, and
is filled with great ability and dignity by their
resident, Mr. Rich. The house occupied by the
establishment is formed of a number of dwellings
thrown into one, and, as a residence, is certainly
one of the largest, best, and most conmiodious
in the city. It consists of two large courts, one
of them used as a riding ground, having numer-
ous rooms and galleries aroimd it, with walled
terraces for sleeping at night in the open air;
and a set of vaulted subterranean cellars called
serdaubs, for avoiding the intense heat of the
sunmier during the day, besides spacious and
good stables, kitchens, and oflSces of every de-

"Attached to Mr. Rich's establishment were
an English surgeon, an Italian secretary, sev-
eral dragomen, or interpreters, and a niunber of
janissaries, grooms, and servants, all filling their
proper offices and performing separate duties, as
m India, and composed of Turks, Arabs, Georg-
ians, Persians, and Hindoos. A company of
sepoys furnished a bodyguard, and their drums
and horns sounded the regular ^reveille' and
'call' of a camp or garrison. A troop of Euro-
pean Hussars were formerly maintained here

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also; but their numbers are diminished. A
large and commodious yacht was always kept
ready for excursions on the river, \mder the care
of an Indian Serang and crew. The stud of
horses was large and choice; and everything
belonging to the Residency was calculated to
ipipress ideas of great respect on the minds
of the inhabitants, who were witnesses of the
manner in which it was supported and con-
ducted. The fact is, indeed, that Mr. Rich was
universally considered to be the most powerful
man in Baghdad, next to the Pasha; and some
even questioned whether the Pasha himself
would not at any time shape his conduct ac-
cording to Mr. Rich's suggestions and advice,
rather than as his own council might wish.

''Our mode of living here was to rise at the
first peep of day, and take a ride and a bath,
after which we all met at breakfast about eight
o'clock. Mr. Rich then held a public divan
until ten, which was regularly attended by all
the oflScers of his own establishment, and by the
heads of the chief departments of government
in the city. In these visits of ceremony, every-
thing was conducted with great decorum, and
nothing could be more evident than the high
degree of respect for the Resident with which
these interviews inspired the visitors. On the
breaking up of the divan, the members of the
establishment generally retired to pass away the
heat of the day in the s^rdaubs below; the only

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EXPLORATIONS, 1734-1820 151

places, indeed, in which existence was tolerable.
At sunset, we again met together, and dined on
one of the terraces in the open air; when, after
continuing at table generally till ten o'clock, we
separated to our beds, on other enclosed ter-
races, to sleep; the heat of the weather scarcely
suffering us to bear the light covering of a sheet,
or even the still lighter one of a mosquito mus-
lin, though we lay on the highest part of the
house-top, and had nothing above us but the
starry canopy of heaven. . . .

"The state of the atmosphere at this period,
as indicated by the scales of two excellent ther-
mometers, carefully examined and compared,
may be judged from the following facts: The
lowest degree at which the mercury stood, at the
first peep of dawn, which is generally the coldest
portion of the twenty-four, was 112® of Fahren-
heit; at noon it stood at 119°; at a little before
two o'clock, at 122^; by sunset it subsided to
117°; and at midnight 114^. This was the case
within the last twenty-four hours; the air being
perfectly calm, the .sun almost blood red, as
seen through a dull mist, and the atmosphere
literally on fire. There was, indeed, scarcely
any perceptible difference between the heat of
the day or that of the night, as long as the in-
dividual kept in the shade. If exposed to the
sun, its rays were scarcely to be borne; natives
of the country even died in great numbers from
the excessive heat; and nothing but the shelter

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and comforts aflforded by wealth and ingenuity,
in the house of the British representative, could
have made a residence here at all tolerable to a

On July 22 Buckingham set out from Bagh-
dad, accompanied by the Italian secretary and
physician of the Resident, the genial and ac-
complished Mr. Bellino. They visited Akarkuf ,
whose ruins Buckingham described very well,
but did not recognize it as a Babylonian con-
struction, and was content to reproduce Nie-
buhr's suggestion that this great mass of bricks
burnt or imbumt may have been erected by
the Califs of Baghdad or by one of the kings of

In the same company Buckingham visited the
remains of Babylon, and writes: "After ex-
amining the ruined heap of the Mujellib6, and
bringing away with us some fragments of hard,
though apparently not fumace-bumt, bricks,
with inscriptions on them, in the arrow-headed
or Babylonian character, we left the pile, to
extend oiu* observations."*

Buckingham went very carefully over all the
mounds and displays a wide acquaintance with
the visits and descriptions of former travelers.
He insists much on the fulfillments of Scripture
prophecy which he thought he saw, and his con-

1 J. S. Buckingham, Travels in Mesopotamia in two volumes. LoDdon*
1827. Vol. u. pp. 209, fif.
« Ibid., p. 276.

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EXPLORATIONS, 1734-1820 153

tribution to the awakening of interest in England
was no mean one.

Two years later Rich had another and prob-
ably more important visit from another fellow
countryman in the person of Sir Robert Ker
Porter. This was October 14, 1818, and Rich
had, as we have seen, made his investigations at
Babylon, and published them in Europe. It was
natural that he should discuss them with this
newcomer. Porter had already visited Persep-
olis, and by the copying of inscriptions had
added his name to the long and worthy line of
those who had made the work of Grotefend
possible. Of all those who had yet been in
Babylonia none were endowed in the same
manner as this new visitor. Others had pos-
sessed greater experience in travel, though even
in this his experience was not small. Others had
had better scientific equipment in knowledge of
surveying and in acquaintance with Oriental lan-
guages. In these matters Porter was far behind
Rich and the former wanderers. But Porter was
an artist, a pupil indeed of Benjamin West, and
he had already made his name famous in Eng-
land by many a canvas depicting the glory of his
country in war, and the history of his people in
Church and State. To this he added the unique
distinction of having been court painter at Saint
Petersburg. He was bom in Durham, had spent
his boyhood in Edinburgh, and belonged to a
brilliant Irish family. He had the Celtic poetic

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temperament, was tireless and energetic, yet pa-

Online LibraryRobert William RogersA history of Babylonia and Assyria, Volume 1 → online text (page 11 of 36)