Discoveries At Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard


Discoveries At Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard, Esq., D.C.L.

Text source: A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh. Austen Henry Layard. J. C. Derby. New York. 1854.


Chapter 10

(Page 243) As I was drawing one morning at the mound, Ibrahim Agha came to me, with his eyes full of tears, and announced the death of Tahyar Pashaw. The cawass had followed the fortunes of the late Governor of Mosul almost since childhood, and was looked upon as a member of his family. Like other Turks of his class, he had been devoted to the service of his patron, and was treated more like a companion than a servant. In no country in the world are ties of this nature more close than in Turkey; nowhere does there exist a better feeling between the master and the servant, and the master and the slave.


I was much grieved at the sudden death of Tahyar; for he was a man of gentle and kindly manners, just and considerate in his government, and of considerable information and learning for a Turk. The cause of his death showed his integrity. His troop had plundered a friendly tribe, falsely represented to him as rebellious by his principal officers, who were anxious to have an opportunity of enriching themselves with the spoil. When he learned the truth, and that the tribe, so far from being hostile, were peaceably pasturing their flocks on the banks of the Khabour, he exclaimed, "You have destroyed my house" (i.e. its honor); and, without speaking again, died of a broken heart. He was buried in the court-yard of the principal mosque at Mardin. A simple but elegant tomb, surrounded by (Page 244) flowers and evergreens, was raised over his remains; and an Arabic inscription records the virtues and probable reward of one of the most honest and amiable men that it has been my lot, in a life of some experience among men of various kinds, to meet. I visited his monument during my journey to Constantinople. From the lofty terrace, where it stands, the eye wanders over the vast plains of Mesopotamia, stretching to the Euphrates, - in spring one great meadow, covered with the tents and flocks of innumerable tribes.


The kiayah, or chief secretary, was chosen governor of the province by the council, until the Porte could name a new pashaw, or take other steps for the administration of affairs. Essad Pashaw, who had lately been at Beyrout, was at length appointed to succeed Tahyar, and soon after reached his pashawlic. These changes did not affect my proceedings. Armed with my vizirial letter, I was able to defy the machinations of the cadi and the ulema, who did not cease their endeavors to throw obstacles in my way.


After the celebration of Christmas I returned to Nimroud, and the excavations were again carried on with activity.


The N. W. palace was naturally the most interesting portion of the ruins, and to it were principally directed my researches. I had satisfied myself beyond a doubt that it was the most ancient building yet explored in Assyria; although, not having been destroyed by fire, it was in a better state of preservation than any edifice hitherto discovered.


When the excavations were resumed after Christmas, eight chambers had been opened. There were now so many outlets and entrances, that I had no trouble in finding new chambers, - one leading into another. By the end of the month of April I had explored almost the whole building; and had opened twenty-eight rooms cased with alabaster slabs. Although many new sculptures of considerable interest were found in them, still the principal part of the edifice seems to have been that to the north, where the best artists had evidently been employed upon the walls of the chambers, and the bas-reliefs (Page 245) excelled all those that had yet been discovered, in the elegance and finish of the ornaments, and in the spirited delineation of the figures. In the other chambers were either winged figures, separated by the sacred tree, and resembling one another in every respect, or the standard inscription alone was carved upon the slabs.


The colossal figure of a female with four wings, carrying a garland, now in the British Museum, was discovered in a (Page 246) chamber on the south side of the palace,[10.1] as was also the fine bas relief of the king leaning on a wand or staff, one of the best preserved and most highly finished specimens in the national collection.


In the center of the palace was a great hall, nearly square, with entrances on the four sides formed by colossal human-headed lions and bulls. The slabs which paneled the walls were unsculptured, but upon each was the standard inscription.


To the south of this hall, was a cluster of small chambers, opening into each other. At the entrance to one of them were winged figures wearing garlands, and carrying a wild goat and an ear of corn.[10.2] In another chamber were discovered the beautiful ivory ornaments now in the British Museum. These interesting relics adhered so tenaciously to the soil, and were so completely decomposed, that it was a task of great difficulty to remove them even in fragments. The ivory separated in flakes, or fell into powder. Consequently many interesting objects were irretrievably lost, notwithstanding the care which was taken to collect the smallest pieces. Those preserved were restored in England by an ingenious process, which, replacing the gelatinous matter, and thus reuniting the decaying particles into one solid body, gave them the appearance and consistency of recent ivory.


The most interesting of these ivories are two small tablets, one nearly entire, the other much injured, on which are carved two sitting figures, holding in one hand the Egyptian scepter or symbol of power. Between the figures is a cartouche, containing a name in hieroglyphics, and surmounted by a feather or plume, such as is found in monuments of the eighteenth, and subsequent dynasties of Egypt. The robes of the figures, the chairs on which they are seated, the hieroglyphics in the cartouche, (Page 247) and the feather above it, were enameled with a blue substance let into the ivory; and the uncarved portions of the tablet, the cartouche, and part of the figures, were originally gilded, - remains of the gold leaf still adhering to them. The forms, and style of art, have a purely Egyptian character; although there are certain peculiarities in the execution, and mode of treatment, that would seem to mark the work of a foreign, perhaps an Assyrian, artist. The same peculiarities characterized all the other objects discovered. Several small human heads in frames, supported by low pillars, and the heads of lions and bulls, show not only a considerable acquaintance with art, but an intimate knowledge of the process of working in ivory. Found with them were oblong tablets, upon which are sculptured, with great delicacy, standing figures, with one hand elevated, and holding in the other a stem or staff, surmounted by an ornament resembling the Egyptian lotus. Scattered about were fragments of winged sphinxes, the head of a lion of singular beauty, which unfortunately fell to pieces, human heads, hands, legs, and feet, bulls, flowers, and scroll-work. In all the specimens the spirit of the design and the delicacy of the workmanship are equally to be admired. These ornaments may have belonged to a throne or chest, or may have decorated the walls or ceilings of the room. In Scripture we find frequent allusion to the employment of this beautiful material both in architecture and in furniture. Ahab had an ivory house, and ivory palaces are mentioned in the Psalms. Solomon made a throne of ivory, and ivory beds are spoken of by the prophets.[10.3] The hands and feet probably belonged to an entire human figure, the draped part of which was in wood or metal, resembling the chryselephantine statues of the Greeks.


On two slabs, forming an entrance to a small chamber in this part of the building[10.4] were inscriptions containing the name of the king who built the Khorsabad palace. They had been (Page 248) cut above the usual inscription, to which they are evidently long posterior, a fact which alone proves the greater antiquity of the Nimroud ruins.


In all the chambers to the south of the center hall, were found copper vessels of peculiar shape; but they fell to pieces almost immediately on exposure to the air, and I was unable to preserve one of them entire.


When the chambers paneled with alabaster slabs ceased, I was unable for some time to trace any remains of the building beyond. A brick pavement proved that the ruins did not end here, and on examining the trenches carefully it was found that we had entered chambers, the walls of which were of sun-dried bricks, covered with a coating of plaster, and painted with figures and ornaments. The colors had faded so completely, that scarcely any of the subjects or designs could be traced. It required the greatest care to separate the rubbish from the walls, without removing at the same time the plaster, which fell off in flakes, notwithstanding all my efforts to preserve it. The subject of the paintings, as far as could be judged from the remains, was the king, followed by eunuchs and warriors, receiving prisoners and tribute. The figures appear to have been nearly in black outline upon a blue ground, and I was unable to distinguish any other colors.


As the means at my disposal did not warrant any outlay in making mere experiments, without the certainty of the discovery of removable objects, I felt myself compelled, much against my inclination, to abandon the excavations in this part of the mound, after uncovering portions of two chambers. The doorway, which united them, was paved with one large slab, ornamented with flowers and scroll-work. The flooring was of baked bricks.


On the western face of the great mound to the south of the N. W. palace, there is a considerable elevation. To examine it, a trench was opened on a level with the platform. It was some time before I ascertained that we were cutting into a kind of' tower, or nest of upper chambers, constructed entirely of unbaked bricks; the walls being plastered, and elaborately (Page 249) painted. I explored three rooms, and part of a fourth on the southern side of this building.


It is probable that there were four similar groups of' chambers, facing the cardinal points. In front of the southern entrance,[10.5] was a large square slab with slightly raised edges, similar to those frequently found in the N. W. palace. On two sides of it were narrow pieces of alabaster, forming parallel lines, which I can only compare to the rails of a railroad. I can not form any conjecture as to their use. The rooms had been more than once painted, and two distinct coats of plaster were visible on the walls. The outer coating, when carefully detached, left the under, on which the designs were different.


(Page 250) The painted ornaments were remarkable for their elegance. The Assyrian bull was frequently introduced, sometimes with wings, sometimes without. Above the animals was a border resembling the battlements of castles in the sculptures, and below, forming a kind of cornice, squares and circles, tastefully arranged The colors were blue, red, white, yellow, and black; and although thus limited in number, were arranged with much taste and skill, the contrasts being carefully preserved, and the combinations generally agreeable to the eye. The pale yellow ground, on which the designs were painted, resembled the tint on the walls of Egyptian monuments; and a strong well-defined black outline is a peculiar feature in Assyrian as in Egyptian painting, in the ornaments described, black frequently combining with white alone, or alternating with other colors.


But the most important discovery, connected with these upper chambers, was that of the pavement slabs at two entrances. The inscriptions upon them contained the names of several kings, most of which were new, and are of the greatest interest, as adding to the list of monarchs of the earliest dynasty.[10.6]


I could not ascertain whether there were any chambers, or remains of buildings, beneath this upper edifice; or whether it was a tower constructed on the solid outer wall. A deep trench was opened on the eastern side of it, and, about twenty feet below the surface, a pavement of brick and several square slabs of alabaster were uncovered; but these remains did not throw any light upon the nature of the building above; nor were they sufficient to show that the N. W. palace had been carried under it. To the south of it there were no remains of building, the platform of unbaked bricks being continued up to the level of the flooring of the chambers.


In the center of the mound, I had in vain endeavored to find the walls and other remains of the palace which must at one time have stood there. Except the colossal bulls, the obelisk, (Page 251) two winged figures, and a few fragments of yellow limestone, which appeared to have formed part of a gigantic bull or lion, no sculptures had yet been discovered there. Excavations to the south of the bulls disclosed a tomb built of bricks and closed by a slab of alabaster. It was about five feet in length, and scarcely more than eighteen inches in breadth in the interior. On removing the lid, parts of a skeleton were exposed to view; the skull and some of the larger bones were still entire; but soon crumbled into dust. A vase of reddish clay, with a long narrow neck, stood near the body, in a dish of such delicate fabric, that I had great difficulty in moving it entire. Over the mouth of the vase was placed a bowl or cup, also of red clay. In the dust, which had accumulated round the skeleton, were found beads and small ornaments of opaque-colored glass, agate, cornelian, and amethyst. A small crouching lion of lapis lazuli, pierced on the back, had been attached to the end of the necklace. With the beads was a cylinder, on which was represented the king in his chariot, hunting the wild bull, as in the bas-relief from the N. W. palace; a copper ornament resembling a modern seal, two bracelets of silver, and a pin for the hair. These remains show the tomb to be that of a female.


On digging beyond this tomb, I found others, similarly constructed, and of the same size. In them were vases of highly glazed green pottery, elegant in shape, and in perfect preservation, copper mirrors, and copper lustral spoons.[10.7]


I was surprised to find, about five feet beneath these tombs, the remains of a building. Walls of unbaked bricks could still be traced; but the alabaster slabs, with which they had been paneled, had been removed, and were heaped on the pavement. Slab succeeded to slab; and when I had removed nearly twenty tombs, and had cleared a space about fifty feet square, the ruins presented a very singular appearance. Above (Page 252) one hundred slabs were uncovered, placed in rows, one against the other, like the leaves of a gigantic book. Every slab was sculptured; and as they followed each other according to the subjects upon them, it was evident that they had been moved, in the order in which they stood, from their original positions; and had been left as found, preparatory to their removal elsewhere. That they had not been thus collected prior to their arrangement against the walls, was evident from the fact, proved beyond a doubt by repeated observation, that the Assyrians sculptured the slabs, with the exception of the great bulls and lions, after they had been placed. The slabs had also been split, if I may be allowed the expression, in order to reduce their dimensions, and render them more easily transportable. To the south of the center bulls were two colossal figures, similar to those discovered to the north.


The bas-reliefs resembled, in many respects, some of those discovered in the S. W. palace, in which the sculptured faces of the slabs were turned, it will be remembered, toward the walls of unbaked brick. It would appear, therefore, that the one building had been destroyed, to supply materials for the construction of the other. But here were tombs over the ruins. The edifice had perished, and in the rubbish accumulating above its remains, a people, whose funereal vases and ornaments were nearly identical with those found in the catacombs of Egypt had buried their dead. What race, then, occupied the country after the destruction of the Assyrian palaces? At what period were these tombs made? What antiquity did their presence assign to the buildings beneath them? It is difficult to answer these questions. The tombs undoubtedly prove that the Assyrian edifices were overthrown and buried at a very remote period. The Egyptian character of the pottery, beads, and ornaments, is very remarkable, and would seem to indicate that those who were buried at Nimroud came from Egypt, or were closely connected with that country. The mode of sepulture is, however, undoubtedly not Egyptian; it is, on the (Page 253) contrary, that which prevailed throughout Assyria and Babylonia during an epoch yet unfixed. It resembles in some respects that adopted by the early Persians, - Cyrus and Darius having been buried in sarcophagi or troughs. All we can at present assert is, that these tombs prove the remote period of the utter destruction of the palaces.


The subjects of the sculptures thus found collected together with the exception of a few colossal figures of the king and his attendant eunuchs, and of the winged priests or divinities, were principally battle-pieces and sieges. Some cities were represented as standing on a river, in the midst of groves of date-trees, and among the conquered people were warriors mounted on camels. It may be inferred, therefore, that one series of these bas-reliefs recorded the conquest of an Arab nation, or perhaps of a part of Babylonia - the inhabitants of the cities being assisted by auxiliaries, from the neighboring desert. The conquered races, as in the bas-reliefs of the N. W. palace, (Page 255) were generally without armor or helmets, their hair falling loosely on their shoulders. Some, however, wore helmets, which varied in shape from those of the conquerors.


Battering-rams also differed in form from those represented in the earlier sculptures. The besieged castles, like those of the Assyrians, appear to have been built upon artificial mounds. The battering-ram was rolled up to the walls on an inclined plane constructed of earth, stones, and trees, which appears to have been sometimes paved with bricks or squared stones, to facilitate the ascent of the engine. This mode of besieging a city, as well as the various methods of attack portrayed in the sculptures, are frequently alluded to in Scripture. Ezekiel,[10.8] prophesying of Jerusalem, exclaims, "Lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mound against it; set the camp also against, and set battering rams against it round about :" and Isaiah, "Thus saith the Lord concerning the King of Assyria: he shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it."[10.9] The shields mentioned by the prophet are probably those of wicker work, represented in the (Page 256) bas-reliefs as covering the whole person and resting on the ground. Some of the battering-rams were not provided with towers for armed men, and some were without wheels; the latter were probably "the forts" which Nebuchadnezzar built round about Jerusalem.[10.10] These forts appear to have been mere temporary erections of wood and wicker-work; and the Jews were expressly forbidden to use for the purpose trees affording sustenance to man, - "only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down: and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued."[10.11] Ezekiel, in prophesying the destruction of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, has faithfully recorded the events of an Assyrian siege, and the treatment of the conquered people; his description illustrates in a remarkable manner, the bas-reliefs of Nimroud:-


"Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses, their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water."[10.12]


(Page 257) The battering ram appears to have been directed by men within the framework, which was frequently covered with drapery or hides, ornamented with fringes and even with devices.


On two slabs was a bas relief of considerable interest, representing the sack of a city.[10.13] The conquerors were seen carrying away the spoil, and two eunuchs, standing near the gates, wrote down with a pen on rolls of some pliable material, probably a kind of paper or leather, the number of sheep and cattle driven away by the soldiers. In the lower part of the bas relief, were (Page 258) carts drawn by oxen, carrying women and children. Near the gates were two battering-rams, which, the city having been taken, were no longer at work.


Among other bas-reliefs may be mentioned the king seated on his throne, receiving prisoners with their arms bound behind them; eunuchs registering the heads of the enemy, laid at their feet by the conquerors; idols borne on the shoulders of men; and a walled city, standing on the sea, or on a river.


The spoil represented in these bas-reliefs as carried away from the conquered nations, consisted chiefly of cattle, sheep, (Page 259) and camels. The cattle were evidently of two kinds, probably the buffalo and common ox, distinguished in the sculptures by horns curved toward the back of the head, and horns projecting in front. The sheep also appear to have been of two species; that with the broad tail is still found in the country, and is described by Herodotus as peculiar to (Page 260) Mesopotamia.[10.14] The goats have long spiral horns. The camel is faithfully delineated. This valuable animal formed at the remotest period the riches of the inhabitants of Assyria and Arabia, and was no doubt by them, as it still is by the Arab, ranked among the most desirable objects of plunder. It was used even in those days by couriers, and for posts, and flocks of them were possessed by Abraham and Jacob.[10.15]


To the east of the center bulls several slabs were discovered, still standing in their original position. The lower part of the bas-reliefs alone remained, the upper having been completely destroyed. They represented colossal winged figures, carrying the usual square vessel, and sacred flowers of various forms.


The only part of the S. W. palace sufficiently well preserved to give any idea of its original form, was one large hall curiously constructed. It had two entrances, formed by human-headed bulls and lions sculptured in a coarse gray limestone; and, in the center, was a portal (also formed by winged bulls), in a kind of partition, which divides the hall into four distinct parts, but appears to have been merely intended to support beams for the roof. Between the bulls forming the center portal were a pair of sphinxes.


The whole of this hall was paneled with slabs brought from other buildings. Some, and by far the greater number, were from the N. W., others from the center, palace. But there were many bas-reliefs which differed greatly, in the style of art, from the sculptures discovered in both these ruins. From whence they were obtained I am unable to determine; whether from a palace of another period once existing at Nimroud, and still concealed in a part of the mound not explored, or from some edifice in the neighborhood.


All the walls had been exposed to fire, and, the slabs nearly reduced to lime, were too much injured to bear removal. They (Page 261) were not all sculptured; the bas-reliefs being scattered here and there, and always turned toward the wall of sun-dried brick.


Among the most interesting bas-reliefs discovered were the following:- A king seated on his throne, receiving his vizier, and surrounded by his attendants, within the walls of a castle; a warrior wearing a crested helmet on a rearing horse, asking quarter of Assyrian horsemen; a spearman on horseback hunting the wild bull; the king of the N.W. palace in his chariot fighting (Page 262) with the enemy; the siege of a castle, in which was represented a bucket attached to a pulley; a pair of human headed bulls in low relief; and a king placing his foot on the neck of a captive, and raising a spur in his right hand, the only instance in which he is represented with this weapon - a bas-relief illustrating the passage of Scripture which describes the captains of Israel placing their feet upon the necks of the captive kings: "And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, and put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they (Page 263) came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them."[10.16] To make "a footstool of mine enemies" is a common biblical expression of triumph. A procession of warriors carrying away the idols of a conquered nation, was highly interesting on account of the figures of the gods. The first was that of a female seated on a high backed chair, holding a ring in one hand, and a kind of fan in the other. Her face was in full, and she wore the horned cap surmounted by a star. The next figure was also that of a seated female, wearing a similar cap, and holding a ring in one hand. The third was partly concealed by a screen placed on a chair; and the fourth was that of a man walking, raising an ax in one hand, and grasping an object resembling the conventional thunderbolt of the Greek Jove in the other. The female figures may be those of Hera and Rhea, who were worshipped in the temple of Babylon; while the god may be identified with Baal or Belus, the supreme deity of the Semitic races, who, according to Diodorus Siculus, was represented in the act of walking. This bas-relief illustrates more than one passage in the Bible. Hosea prophesied that the idol of Samaria should be carried away by the Assyrians;[10.17] and Jeremiah declares that the Babylonians should burn the gods of the Egyptians, and carry them away captive. [10.18] In the epistle supposed to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah to the captive Jews, to warn them against the idolatries of the Babylonians, we find the following remarkable description of the gods represented in the Assyrian sculptures. "Now shall ye see, in Babylon, gods of silver, and of gold, and of wood, borne upon shoulders. And he that can not put to death one that offendeth him, holdeth a scepter, as though he were a judge of the country. He hath also in his right hand a dagger and an ax."[10.19] We learn from the same epistle that these idols were of wood laid over with gold, and that parts of them were polished by the workmen, that crowns were placed on their heads, that they were decked (Page 264) out in garments and purple raiment, and that fires or lamps were kept burning before them. Jeremiah describes the gods of the heathen as cut out of a tree of the forest, decked with silver and gold, fastened with nails, and with blue and purple garments.[10.20] The star above the horned-cap of the figures in the bas-relief appears to point to an astral system personified in the idols; and it is to this custom of placing the star above the head of the god to which the prophet Amos probably alludes, when he condemns the house of Israel for having "borne the tabernacle of Moloch and Chiun, their images and the star of their god, which they had made for themselves."[10.21]


Some of the sculptures had been carefully erased, and only a few traces of the figures remained. Several of the bas-reliefs were accompanied by descriptive inscriptions; and on the pavement was discovered a tablet recording the conquests of a king whose name occurs in no other ruins yet discovered, and to whom no place can yet be assigned in the Assyrian royal lists.


The three entrances to the south of the palace appear to have led into a magnificent hall, about 220 feet in length, the northern entrance to which was also formed by a pair of human headed bulls. The side walls had in some places completely disappeared, and the sculptures which were still standing had all suffered more or less from the conflagration and subsequent long exposure to the atmosphere.


As the level of the S. W. palace was considerably above that of the N. W., and as the site of many sculptures in it had not been discovered, it appeared to me possible that it had been built over the ruins of some more ancient building. By way of experiment, therefore, I directed long and very deep trenches to be opened in three different directions: nothing, however, was found, but a box or square hole, twenty feet beneath the surface, formed by bricks carefully fitted together, and containing several small idols in unbaked clay. They (Page 265) were bearded figures, wearing high, pointed miters, and had probably been placed, for some religious purpose, beneath the foundations of the building. Objects somewhat similar, and in the same material, were discovered at Khorsabad, under the pavement slabs, between the great bulls.


Near the southern entrance to the great hall was found, amid a mass of charred wood and charcoal, and beneath a fallen slab, part of a beam in good preservation, apparently of mulberry wood.


It may be inferred that a very long interval intervened between the time of the construction of the N. W. and of the S. W. palaces. A considerable period must have elapsed before a monarch destroyed the monuments of his predecessors to raise out of the materials a new habitation for himself or his divinities. It is highly probable that some great change had taken place before such an event could have happened, - that a new dynasty of kings had ejected the older family; and that, as conquerors, they had introduced a new element into the nation. There are remarkable differences in the costume of the king, the forms of the chariots, the trappings of the horses, and the arms and armor of the warriors, which further tend to prove that some such change had taken place in Assyria between the destruction of the N. W. palace at Nimroud and the erection of that at Khorsabad. The state of art, as shown in the treatment of the sculptures, in their forms and in their ornaments, differed materially during the two periods, and points to a very great change in manners, the state of civilization, and religion.


The southeast corner of the mound, which was considerably above the level of any other part, appears to have been the principal burying place of those who occupied the country after the destruction of the Assyrian palaces. Beside the two tombs already described, many others were subsequently discovered there. The sarcophagi were mostly of the same shape, that of a dish cover; but there were other tombs constructed of bricks well fitted together and covered by a slab, similar to those about the ruins in the center of the mound. In nearly all were (Page 266) earthen vases, copper and silver ornaments, and small alabaster bottles. The skeletons, as soon as uncovered, crumbled to pieces, although entire when first exposed, and one skull alone has been preserved. Scattered among these tombs were vases of all sizes, lamps, and small objects of pottery, some uninjured, others broken into fragments.[10.22]


Removing the tombs I discovered beneath them the remains of a building, and explored seven chambers. No sculptures or inscriptions were found in them; the lower part of the walls being paneled with plain slabs of limestone, three feet seven inches high, and from two to three feet wide, and the upper being of sun-dried bricks, covered by a thick coat of white plaster.


In the rubbish, near the bottom of the chambers, were found several small objects; among them a female head in white alabaster, now in the British Museum.


It only remains for me to mention a singular discovery on the eastern face of the mound near its northern extremity. A trench having been opened from the outer slope, the workmen came upon a small vaulted chamber, about ten feet high, and the same in width, fifteen feet below the level of the mound, and in the center of a wall of sun-dried bricks, nearly fifty feet thick. The arch was built of baked bricks. The chamber was filled with rubbish, the greater part of which was a kind of slag, and the bricks forming the vault and walls were almost vitrified, evidently from exposure to very intense heat. The chamber had thus the appearance of a large furnace for making glass, or fusing metal. I am unable to account for its use, as there was no access to it, as far as I could ascertain from any side.


Much, of course, remained to be explored in the ruins; but with the limited means at my disposal, I was unable to pursue my researches to the extent that I could have wished. If, after carrying a trench to a reasonable depth and distance, no (Page 267) remains of sculpture or inscription were discovered, I abandoned it, and renewed the experiment elsewhere. I could thus ascertain whether any very extensive edifice was still standing. There were too many tangible objects in view to warrant an outlay in excavations promising no immediate results; and a great part of the mound of Nimroud was left to be explored, when the ruins of Assyria should be further examined.




[10.1] In chamber L (plan 3). In front of this figure was an earthen pipe connecting the floor of the chamber with a drain - the whole cemented with bitumen. It may have been used to carry off the blood of the sacrifice.

[10.2] One of these figures is in the British Museum.

[10.3] Compare 1 Kings 10:18, and 22:39; Psalms 45:8; Amos 3:15, and 6:4.

[10.4] Chamber U.

[10.5] Entrance a, Plan 4.

[10.6] One of these slabs is in the British Museum.

[10.7] Most of the small objects discovered in the tombs, and described in the text, are now in the British Museum.

[10.8] Ch. iv. 2.

[10.9] Isaiah 37:33; compare 2 Kings 19:32; Jeremiah 32:24, and 33:4; Ezekiel 17:17

[10.10] Jeremiah 52:4.

[10.11] Deut. 20:19, 20.

[10.12] Ezek. 26:7-12.

[10.13] Now in the British Museum.

[10.14] Lib. iii. c. 113. This broad tail is mentioned in Leviticus 3:9, 7:3, where it is rendered "rump."

[10.15] Esther 8:10, 14; Genesis 12:16, 30:43; and compare Genesis 24:19, 31:34; 1 Samuel 30:17.

[10.16] Joshua 10:24.

[10.17] Chapter 10:6

[10.18] Chapter 43:12.

[10.19] That the Jews looked upon this Epistle as genuine, may be inferred from the reference to it in 2 Maccab. 11:2, 3.

[10.20] Chapter 10:4, 9.

[10.21] Chapter 5:26.

[10.22] Many of the small objects are in the British Museum.



Archaeology of Ancient Assyria

Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Introduction - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Overview - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Brief History of Ancient Assyria - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Archaeology and Assyria Archaeological Discoveries - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Neo Assyrian Kings - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Scriptures about Ancient Assyria Bible Dictionaries - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Conclusion - Archaeology of Ancient Assyria Ancient Assyria Khorsabad - Ancient Assyria Ashur - Ancient Assyria Calah - Ancient Assyria Nineveh - Ancient Assyria Copyright Bible History Online Archaeology and Ancient Assyria



Ancient Assyria

Ancient Assyria and Archaeology

Archaeological Discoveries

Paul Emil Botta - French Archaeologist

Austen Henry Layard - British Archaeologist

List of Later Assyrian Kings

The Ancient City of Nineveh

The Ancient City of Khorsabad

The Ancient City of Calah

The Ancient City of Asshur

Scriptures about Ancient Assyria

Bible Dictionaries

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Assyrian Texts - Ancient Documents

Conclusion - Heart Message and Devotional


Archaeology and Ancient Assyria

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