From under the Dust of Ages

by William St. Chad Boscawen | 1886 | 41,453 words

A series of six lectures on the history and antiquities of Assyria and Babylonia, delivered at the British Museum....

Lecture 3 - Assyrian Palaces

IF in the older motherland of Chaldea it is to the temple we turn for the memorials of some ancient city, in Assyria, the northern kingdom of Mesopotamia, it is in the palaces of the great king that we must look for the records which are to restore to us the memorials of the long buried past. It may be, as M. Perrot has suggested, that the lords of the younger empire, in throwing off the yoke of the southern motherland, had released themselves from the power and traditions of that religious caste which held so strong rule in Chaldea, Be this as it may, the explorations in the mounds of debris which form the graves of the cities of Assur, have shown that beneath these vast tumuli there lie buried the palaces of the kings of Assyria ; and where temples have been found, they are subordinate to the larger royal residence.

Both scriptural and monumental evidence are at one in proving Assyria to have been a colony and dependency upon the land of Chaldea, which in about the nineteenth century before the Christian era became sufficiently strong to throw off the yoke of the home country, and rule as independent. This independence was not acquired immediately. For a time the rulers still bore the title of patesi or "viceroy," but in the course of time they assumed the title of king. An additional proof of the Chaldean origin of the cities of Assyria, which, like Chaldea, began its history with a tetrapolis of Assur, Nineveh, Calah, and Eesen, is that, with the exception of the last of these, the names do not admit of explanation by Semetic etymology.

The account given in the book of Genesis (ch. x. 11), in its revised reading, should be, " Out of that land he (Nimrod) went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh, the same is the city of streets, and Calah, and Resell between Calah and Nineveh, the same is a great city." The accuracy of the passage when contrasted with the evidence of the monuments is very remarkable, for it is evident that the writer o*f these words must have had some knowledge of the distinctive features of two at least of the cities.

In speaking of the great city of Nineveh as the city of streets or broadways, he alludes to the most important feature of the topography of the Assyrian capital. The Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and his son Assurbanipal both make mention of the "broadways" or streets of Nineveh in which they made their captives walk in procession. In the account of his Zidonian war Esarhaddon says (W.A.I., vol. i., col. i. 49-53):

"The heads of Sanduarri and Abdi-milkuti upon the necks of their great men I hung, and together with musicians, male and female, through the streets (ribit) of Nineveh T made to pass."

In like manner the prophet Nahum — (ch. ii. 4), " The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one another in the broadways " — seems to have known of this important feature in Ninevite topography. Also, in speaking of the city of Calah, the writer uses the expression, "the same is a great city," a phrase which is an almost exact translation of the ancient name of the city ; the Hebrew Calah being only another form of the Assyrian Kalkhu — the Akkadian Kal-khi, "strong city." The city of Eesen is mentioned in the Bavian inscription of Sennacherib as a town adjacent to Nineveh. The writer of this passage, describing the rise of Assyria, makes no mention of the city of Assur, the metropolis of the northern kingdom ; but in the name given to the district colonised he implies its 'existence.

This name of the most ancient city of the empire, the ruins of which are marked by the lofty mound of Kileh Shergat on the west bank of the Tigris, near the mouth of the lower Zab, is again of non-Semetic origin. On the older bricks the name occurs as Ausar — that is, " the city on the water's bank " — and from a bilingual tablet in the Museum we know that the name Ninua was a Semitic form of the Akkadian Ni-Na-Ki, " his resting place." The relative positions of these three cities, Assur, Calah, and Nineveh, situated as they were at important places on the banks of the Tigris, lead us to attribute their origin, in the first place, to stations on one of the military and commercial roads leading northward. This premiss seems to meet with support from an ancient Akkadian name of the city of Assur, which was Pal-bi-ki, " the place of his crossing," as it was in the neighbourhood of this city that one of the roads from Babylonia crossed over to the east bank of the Tigris.

Assur being the most ancient city of Assyria, its earliest kings bearing the titles of Patesi Ausar, as in an inscription of Samsi-Bimmanu on one of the bricks from Kileli Shergat, which reads, " Samsi-Ram manu patesi Ausar abil Igur-KapJcapu bani Bit Ausar — " Samsi-Eammanu, son of Igur-Kapkapu, builder of the temple of Ausar" (W.A.I., vol. i., pi. vi. 1); it was very natural that the proud Assyrians should seek to find a divine origin for its foundation. Fragments of this interesting legend are found in a tablet marked K. 3445, which most Assyriologists have hitherto included in the creation series. After describing the god Assur as desirous of creating an abode on earth, the tablet states that that dwelling place was:

"the land which thy hands have made, the city Pal-bi-ki thou hast called its name."

The history of the Assyrian empire, like that of the sister kingdom of Egypt, divides itself into three well defined periods : (1) The early empire, from about B.C. 1900-1050; (2) the middle empire, from B.C. 891- 722 ; and (3) the late empire, the period of the Sargonide dynasty, from B.C. 721-625. Each of these periods is also identified with a special capital, and it is besides incidentally important that as the empire increased in power the capital was removed further and further north along the Tigris.

The early empire had for its capital the city of Assur, the middle that of Calah, and the later that of Nineveh ; and it is in the palaces of these cities that we must look for the records of these ancient cities. Of the capital of the early empire we know comparatively little — the isolated nature of the ruins of Kileh Shergat which mark its site, combined with the extreme solidity of the vast mass of debris forming its acropolis, have rendered excavations on the site extremely difficult. That there was a palace here we know, for Tiglath Pileser I. (b.c. 1120) records the repairs he executed on its walls ; but little can be gleaned as to its construction. When, however, we come to study the royal residences of the middle and later empire, ample material is accessible to us. In the mound of Nimroud situated at the junction of the Tigris with the upper Zab, and on the east bank of the river, remains of no less than four or five palaces have been found. The most ancient appears to have been one built in the 14th century, B.C., by a king named Shalmanesar I.

Of this we have no architectural details ; only a few bricks remain to prove its existence. The next most important edifice was the palace situated at the northwest end of the mound, near to the lofty stage tower which crowned the south end of the acropolis, which was built by Assur-nazir-abla (b.c. 885-860).

Most of the sculptures from this palace and from the temle adjoining are now exhibited in the Nimroud gallery of the British Museum. The south-west palace was the work of Shalmanesar III., the contemporary of Aliah and Jehu. Between these two edifices, in about B.C. 740, Tiglath-Pileser II. built himself a royal residence, which is known as the central palace. Sargon, prior to the building of his own splendid palace at Dur Sargina, the ruins of which are marked by the mound of Khorsabad, restored portions of the north-west palace at Calah ; and Esarhaddon, late in his reign, commenced building a palace, using chiefly materials which he had taken from the other and older buildings on the mound.

The mound of Koyunjik, opposite the town of Mosul, which marks the acropolis of Nineveh, has furnished remains of the palaces of the later empire. This mound is about a mile and a-half in circumference, and rises to a height of about 40 feet above the level of the enceinte of the city. The explorations on this site by Sir Henry Layard, Mr Hormuzd Eassam, and Mr GeorgeSmith, have afforded evidence of the existence of at least four palaces. The first was an edifice dating as early as the 14th century, which was repaired by Shalmanesar I., and by Assur-ris-issi (B.C. 1150) and his son Tiglath-Pileser I. (b.c. 1120).

This ancient palace was probably occupied by the kings of the middle empire until the erection of the palaces at Calah. Sennacherib (B.C. 705) was the first, however, to erect a royal residence on the mound worthy of Assyria's kings, and the palace situated at the southeast end of the mound, which he built early in his reign, is an edifice exhibiting, both in architecture and ornamentation, a considerable advance on the style of the buildings of the kings of the middle empire. Later in his reign this same king built a palace to the south of the large acropolis, on the spot now marked by the mound of Nebby Yunus. The palace, though every effort has been made by Mr Kassaru to commence the work, still awaits exploration.

The south-east palace was occupied for a few years by Assur-bani-pal (B.C. 668), who, after his brilliant victories in Egypt and other lands, built for himself a royal abode at the north-west end of the mound; and it is from this palace that the finest remains of Assyrian art have come, and which now adorn the galleries of the British Museum. The sculptures from the palace of Sennacherib are now exhibited in the Koyunjik gallery of the Museum, and those from the palace of Assurbanipal in the basement room. One other palace remains, and this, fortunately, the largest and most thoroughly explored, and it- will furnish us with the most ample material for our study of the construction and ornamentation of the palaces of the kings of Assyria.

In the year B.C. 722 Sargo-n, the tartan, or commander-in-chief, revolted against his master, Shalmanesar IV., and made himself king. At that time, as I have already stated, the capital and royal residence was in Calah. Fearing, no doubt, the revolt of the Assyrians, who, like all oriental nations, required but little cause to rise in rebellion and sweep a despot from his throne, the usurper determined to build for himself a new palace or palace- city, which, by its isolated position and strong fortifications, should afford him shelter from any sudden outburst of popular feeling. He selected a spot about nine miles north-east of Nineveh, and there built a palace- city, an oriental Versailles, which he called Dur-Sargina— " Fort Sargon," — the site of which was marked by the mound and village of Khorsabad.

It is from the ruins of this edifice that the splendid collection of Assyrian sculptures which adorn the galleries of the Louvre have come ; and it is by means of the thorough and systematic exploration, and the lavish publication of the results of those works upon this site by the French Government that we gain an insight, such as was little dreamt would ever be afforded us, into the palace of an Assyrian king. The work of the French explorers commenced on this site in 1843 with some slight private excavations on the part of M. Botta, the French consul at Mosul, and so much interest was excited bv the discoveries, that almost uninterruptedly from that time until 1855 the work was ' continued by the French. Not only was the work of exploration carried on, but competent artists and architects were employed to draw the sculptures and plan the buildings unearthed, and the results of their labours were made public in those splendid works, the Monuments de Ninive of M. Botta, and Ninive et L'Assyrie of M. Place, all of which were printed at government expense.

In selecting the palace at Khorsabad as the typical example in our study of Assyrian palaces in general, we have a considerable advantage. In the first place, we are dealing with a palace the work of which is all of one period, and therefore no difficulties arise as to the .relative dates of certain portions of the work. In the study, again, of the architecture and plan of the edifice, we have, as M. Perrot has remarked, a great advantage, as in the construction of the royal residence of Sargon the architect was unfettered by any arrangements as to older edifices upon the spot, and was enabled, upon a perfectly new and unencumbered site, to work out to the fullest extent that plan which he had designed. Sargon came to the throne in the year B.C. 722, and died in B.C. 705, his reign lasting therefore seventeen years. From the examination of the ruins at Korsabad it is evident that this suburban palace must have been commenced early in his reign, if not immediately after his succession. If we estimate that twelve years were occupied in the construction of this palace, we are astonished at the stupendous character of the undertaking.

The most prominent feature which distinguishes the royal residences of Assyria and Chaldea from those of Egypt, is the large artificial mound upon which they are raised above the level of the surrounding plain. This construction, which forms a sub-basement or pedestal, raises the edifices from 30 to 50 feet above the level of the surrounding plain. It has been customary among some archaeologists to regard this mode of building, together with the extensive employment of brick in lieu of stone, as a blind copying on the part of the Assyrians of the style of Chaldea. To this I must dissent; the reason seeming to me to be easily explained on local grounds. The majority of Assyrian palaces — Khorsabad being no exception, for it is near the bank of the Khorsu — are built near to the river and on low ground, and it was necessary, both for protection from the Hoods and from the attacks of the enemy, to raise the edifices above the level of the surrounding plain.

Some idea of the enormous labour employed in the construction of the raised platform alone on which the palace at Khorsabad is built, can be gained when its dimensions are stated. The mound is in the state of a letter T — the stem being somewhat smaller than the cross bar, and projecting a short distance beyond the line of the city ramparts. The palace mound has an area altogether of 25 acres — an area about six times the size of Trafalgar Square. This vast platform is raised -fb' feet above the level of the plain. It should be remembered that the whole of the mass is of artificial construction, being composed of sun-dried bricks, faced with kiln-burnt bricks and stone, every fragment of which had to be carried to its place by manual labour.

To estimate in some measure the amount of labour, we may remember that the law courts, a block of buildings about one fourth of the palace at Khorsabad, and standing on no such solid artificial foundation, and in the construction .of which the builders were aided by every kind of mechanical appliance, occupied ten years in construction, while, as we know from the tablets, this Assyrian palace did not take so long a time. An examination of the plan of this edifice shows that the architect was guided in his plan by those conditions of oriental life which were the same twenty-six centuries ago in Nineveh as at the present day, and the eye at once divides the complex edifice into the three component elements of an eastern house. On one side we have the royal kingly apartments proper, corresponding to the Seraglio of the houses of India, Persia, and Turkey ; adjacent to this was the women's quarter, the Harem ; and the third portion, consisting of the stables, offices, and servants' quarters, corresponding to the Khan.

As Mr Perrot remarks, the method adopted by the architect in the arrangements of the three component parts of the palace is most simple.

The whole building is arranged on the rectangular block system, each department being a separate block. These groups of chambers, each with a central courtyard, are so arranged as to touch each other at the angle, or by the length of side ; but they never penetrate into each other, and never command one another.

The excavated portions of the Sennacherib palace at the south-east end of the Koyunjik mound reveal the same arrangement of plan, as do also the chambers in the north-west palace at Nimroud. In Babylonia we find a similar system of ground-plan in use in the great temple at Aboo Hubba, where the sacred and secular portions of the temple are arranged in separate quadrangles, all grouped round a central courtyard. Of the external portions of these Assyrian palaces the most important features were the great entrance gateways.

The principal entrance to the palace at Khorsabad seems to have been at H ; and, guided by the remains in this quarter, Mr Thomas, in his restoration, has placed here an inclined roadway leading into the plain. It will be observed that this entrance opens directly into the seraglio or royal quarter. A second entrance was on the south-west face, and gave admission to court A. This must have been one of the most magnificent of Eoyal gateways.

The gateway was 26 feet wide, and flanked on the outside by six pairs of huge winged bulls, and two gigantic figures of the great Chaldean-Assyrian hero Gizclhubar. Some idea of the constant flow of people, soldiers, servants, and others, as well as the royal personages who entered by this lordly portal, is to be gained by the fact that the pavement was found to be polished and worn by the tread of many feet. Entering the courtyard A by this doorway, we cross to the other side, and enter the royal apartments. It consists of a block of buildings 206 feet broad bv 336 feet long, and contains ten courtyards and sixty chambers. An examination of this section of the building enables us to divide this department into two parts — the state rooms, where grand receptions similar to the durbars of India were held, and which constituted the salamlik or reception rooms ; and the private rooms of the king. The state rooms are grouped together round courts IJKL, and all are richly decorated with sculptures.

The heart of this section is formed by court I, from which six doorways lead into the various chambers. This court is one of the most splendid portions of the palace. Four of the six doorways are flanked by huge winged bulls, and the walls are decorated with semi-columns of brickwork, which has been richly coloured, and along the top ran a cornice of painted brickwork, while a rich decorative design, in blue and yellow brickwork, ran uver each of the arched doorways. The suggestion made by M. Perrot, that on state occasions this court was shaded with coloured awnings, and carpeted with rich stuffs, and thus converted into a splendid reception room, is very probable. How glorious must the scene have been here some twenty-six centuries ago, where now all is silent as the grave.

What a mingling of nations, what a babel of tongues must have greeted the eye and ear on entering this court on the day when "Sargon, the king of nations, received the homage of his people." Swarthy, hardy soldiers, bronzed by long campaigns in Syria or the Egyptian frontier ; proud, haughty Babylonian priests, still nurturing deep down in their hearts their schemes for the restoration of Merodach-baladan, the popular prince of the Chaldeans ; Chaldeans from the marshes where the Tigris and Euphrates entered the sea, still retaining the sharp olive eyes, and high cheek bones of the Akkadian, stood side by side with their Elamite and Kassite cousins.

Jews from Jerusalem, Samaritans from Samaria, rich merchant princes from Tyre and Sidun, and fair-haired Greeks from the distant western isles of Yatnan or Cyprus, stood in picturesque groups awaiting the coming of Assyria's king. The long corridor, with its six doorways, each flanked by winged bulls, must have presented a magnificent architectural vista when lit with the rays of the eastern sun, the monutony of light being broken here and there by rich coloured awnings, which tinged the sculptured walls. Leaving the central court I by the doorway No. 2, we enter the private apartments of the king, which though not so richly decorated as the state rooms, are nevertheless ornamented in a delicate style with painted bricks and stucco work. The chambers grouped round M 1 , M 2 , NOP form this section of the royal quarters.

Here we find the living rooms and sleeping chamber of the king, the latter with a guard room leading into it, for then, as now, " uneasy lay the head that wore a crown ;" while the other chambers were the dwellings of the chief officers and personal attendants of the king — his scribe or recorder, the abrakku or "lord chancellor," his priest-augur, astronomers, sword, bow, and dagger-bearers, his charioteer, and many other officials ; and looking at the extent of this portion, covering over 6000 square yards, we see how large must have been the royal personnel. Ctesias states that 15,000 officials and domestics were accommodated in the palace of the king of Persia.

Looking at the number of chambers here, and remembering the little that meets the requirements of Indian and Turkish servants of oriental potentates, we may well imagine that the estimate of the Greek writer was not so very exhorbitant. We now come to the large group of chambers round court T, and a mere examination of the plan shows that the architect has exercised very considerable ingenuity in the arrangement of his chambers. In the first place, it is to be noticed that there is no external entrance into this block, there being only two gateways, and both of these communicate with the central court A, and are of peculiar construction.

The first entrance at gateway M leads into a square chamber, evidently a guard chamber, and from this a passage at right angles gives entrance into the courtyard ; so by this arrangement it is impossible for those on the more public part of the palace to see into this section, or for those within to see outward.

The second entrance is protected by double guard-rooms, which lead into a large courtyard (No. 1). From this court, on the right hand, another doorway leads into a quadrangle (No. 2).

The court is evidently the central feature of this edifice. From the way in which the courtyards and chambers of this block are arranged, and their careful seclusion from the other parts of the palace, it is evident that this block is the harem quarter of the palace ; and this conjecture is confirmed by an inscription found within its precincts, in which the king " prays the gods to render fruitful the royal alliances." The harem in the Assyrian palaces had two names — the first, that which we find applied to the harem palace built by Assurbanipal at Nineveh was Bit-Eiduti, — ''the house of offspring;" the other, the same as that applied to the holy of holies of the temple, Parakku — " the forbidden part," " the most sacred part." As 1 have already remarked, there was a great resemblance between the changes which this word underwent in the Assyrian inscriptions and those varied meanings applied to the Arabic word haram.

The central courtyard (No. 2) was the most richly decorated part of the palace. The three principal doors were flanked by collossal sculptures, and by tall standards of bronze, decorated with palm -leaf fans. Before leaving this court, there are three important chambers to be noticed. It will be observed that at three of the angles of the square are chambers (D 1 , D 2 , L 3 ) similar in plan. The rooms are long and narrow. About one third of the chamber from the far end is occupied by a raised platform or dais, 2 feet above the rest of the room, and approached by five brick steps, and in the centre of the end wall there is an arched alcove, to which this dais leads.

This recess is about 3 feet deep, and the back is ornamented by lines of ornamental brickwork. In this alcove is a broad ottoman or divan about 9 feet long and 3 feet wide. The chamber is ornamented by a friese of coloured and painted bricks running round the walls and over the arch of this recess. It requires but a slight inspection to see that these chambers were three bed chambers. The beds of the Assyrians were probably like those of the Turks and Arabs, quilted mattresses, which were spread out on divans, such as we have here, or on the floor, as the Assyrian ersu, bed, is derived, as Dr Delitzsch (Heb. and Assyr., p. 47) has shown, from the root eresu, which is a synonym of rapadu, " to spread out," as the Arab word for these beds, Jirash, is from farsh, "to spread a carpet;" the words rabitsu and niailu being applied rather to the couches, such as are figured on the monuments (B.M., A.B., No. 121).

These chambers, of which there are three, one corresponding to each of the queen's establishments within the harem quarter (A B C), are no doubt the same as the king's house referred to in the book of Esther (ch. ii. 13) ; while the expression, " before the court of the women's house " (ch. ii. 11), is no doubt amply explained by the'guarded position of the outer harem court. Mordecai would therefore have had to remain in the outer and central court, and be obliged to obtain his information regarding Esther from the eunuch guard. It is plainly to be seen that the harem quarter consisted of three distinct establishments (A B C), all similar in construction, though one is somewhat larger than the others, and was, no doubt, the residence of that important personage, the first wife. The construction of these establishments is very simple, and each is a complete and separate house. Taking the larger one as an example, we have first a paved courtyard, E, in which a body-guard of eunuchs was stationed.

The central chamber, F, was the living room, in which the queen spent her time in company with her maids and attendants, retiring at night to the sleeping chamber, G, in which we see a similar alcove bed as in the royal bed-chambers (D 1 , D 2 , D 3 ). The small side chamber, H, was the waiting-room in which the servants remained, to be within easy call of their mistress. The long narrow court or passages in A and B are probably either corridors for exercise, or, as I am more inclined to think, gardens such as we see figured in one of the sculptures from Koyunjik (B.M., A.B., Xo. 121).

In his arrangement of these establishments it is evident that the royal architect has been mindful so to isolate each of the residences as to prevent any quarrels or deeds of vengeance such as polygamous oriental life often affords examples. The chambers on the bar of the first courtyard are, no doubt, as shown by the explorations, the offices cf the harem quarter. Here were found traces of ovens, large amphorse which once held wine, and bronze pots, &c, of the cooking establishment. It is evident that in this section of the palace we have the royal residence of the three queens of Sargon, with their attendant women.

Although the palace of Assurbanipal, on the north end of the Koyunjik mound, is called by him the " Harem palace," it exhibits no such arrangement as that of Sargon at Khorsabad. But it must be remembered that in the English excavations but little attention has been paid to archaeological and architectural details as in the French works, and therefore in the majority of cases we are quite dependent for our plans, &c, upon an explorer who has had no technical training. In this latter place less than twenty chambers have been explored, and at Khorsabad over 300 have been laid open, carefully planned, and every detail likely to throw light upon their use noted do \vd. It is to be hoped that some day the English excavations in Assyria and Babylonia will have that thorough character both in work and necessary appliances which has made the work of Dr Schliemann at Hissarlik, and of Professor Curtius and his assistants, so successful in restoring to us the life of byegone times.

The third section of the palaces, that devoted to the stores, the quarters of the royal guards, the stables of the horses, camels, and other animals, was situated on the south-west and north-west sides of the great quadrangle of the palace (General Plan).

In his annals Sargon thus speaks of his palace, and especially of this section, the bit nizirte or " store house," or bit kamuti or " treasure house " : —

" This palace contains gold, silver, vases of gold and silver, precious stones, copper and iron — the product of rich mines, blue and purple stuff, woven cloth and cotton, amber, ivory, pearls, sandal ebony, horses from Egypt, oxen, donkeys, mules, camels," &c.

Of this section of the palace also Esarhaddon, in his cylinder, speaks thus : —

" On the left hand of the building (S.E.), in the first month, all the war-horses, mules, asses, camels, arms, furniture of war, all the army, the spoil of my enemies, yearly a regular sum I appointed to be (placed) within it"

(W.A.I., vol i., pi. 47, col. vi., lines 46-51).

The palace built by Sargon, when compared with those of the middle Assyrian empire at Nimroud, exhibits several new departures in architecture. The arrangement of the rooms, the isolation of the harem, and the offices, show that the art of planning edifices, which I noticed in my previous lecture on the temple had attained considerable perfection at a very early period, had now reached a still higher stage of development.

Indeed the palace of Khorsabad, as exhibited to us in the plan prepared by the French explorers, is the 'only edifice that admits of systematic study. In his inscription, Sargon states that his palace was built Bit khilanni ina tansil (tamsil) heJcal mat khatti — " A strong house in the style of a Syrian palace" I built. In the inscription known as the Paves des Portes (Botta, pi. 8) the king thus speaks of his palace : —

  1. At the foot of the mountain of Muzri (the hills to north east), over against the city of Nineveh,
  2. In the desire of my heart a city I made, and Dur Sargina, I proclaimed its name.
  3. A palace of ivory, of strong wood and serviceable woods — tamansh, cedar, Cyprus and fir, samli and butni,
  4. For the dwelling-place of my majesty, within it I made.
  5. Assur the great lord, and the gods inhabiting Assyria, within them I invoked.
  6. Victims, noble sacrifices, before them I offered.
  7. Of the kings of the four quarters Avho to the yoke of my lordship had submitted,
  8. From the prefects of my land, with the wise men, scribes, and princes,
  9. The officers and scribes, their rich offerings I received.
  10. Within it I caused them to dwell, and I established joy.

The next palace we have to consider is that of Assurbanipal, on the north end of the Koyunjik mound, which was discovered by Mr Hormuzd Kassam in 1854. This palace must have been built about B.C. 650 — about sixty or seventy years after the palace of Khorsabad. It is impossible to apply the detailed treatment to this palace which we have given to that of Sargon, but from an art point of view this edifice is more important. Entering by the western portal, a porch 25 feet wide, we at once meet with an innovation in Assyrian architecture.

The wide expanse of doorway is broken by two columns, which have hitherto found no place in Assyrian architecture. This portal gives entrance into a large hall or vestibule (55 feet by 20 feet), and immediately opposite the doorway is a large guard- chamber, with an inner chamber for the captain of the guard.

Turning to the right, we enter a small hall, and passing through this we come to a long inclined passage leading up to the level of the palace platform. This passage has been lined with sculptures representing the grooms leading horses, and the attendants bringing game, fruits, &c, as offerings to the palace — stone counterparts of the living who day by day in the byegone past ascended this entrance to the abode of royalty. At the distance of 175 feet this corridor turns to the right, and leads up to a large hall, the doorway of which is also subdivided by columns. A doorway on the right leads into an open courtyard (54 x 43). Crossing this courtyard we enter a long narrow gallery (112 x 38), the walls of which were lined with sculptures, and with plain marble slabs awaiting the sculptor's chisel.

Palace Of Sargon

Palace of Sargon.

The sculptures found here, some of which are now in the British Museum (B.M., A.B., 91-4), are found to be illustrative of the wars of Assurbanipal against his brother Samas-suma-ukin, the Saulmugines of the canon of Plotemy. A door- way on the right leads into a second chamber (60 X 21), which is lined with sculptures representing a campaign against an Arab tribe, mounted on camels and living in tents.

This is evidently the ninth campaign of this king's reign against Vaiteh or Watieh, king of the Arabs, whose kingdom was situated in the region of the ISTedj, to the south-west of Babylon. From this chamber we pass into the great central court, which, according to Mr Bassam's test excavations, measured 155 feet in length, by 125 feet in breadth. Crossing to the north-west side of the courtyard, we enter by a broad portico (43 feet), broken in like manner to the western entrance by columns, an outer hall (70 X 22), leading into another broad corridor. Passing through this hall we enter a small square room (20 x 20), two sides of which are pannelled with sculptured slabs representing the wars of Assurbanipal against the Elamites. The majority of these sculptures, in good preservation, have been removed to the British Museum (B.M., A.B., No. 54-62).

Leaving this part of the palace, we return to the end of the ascending passage, and find facing us a long narrow gallery, lined on either side with the finest examples of Assyrian art. This gallery (12 x 57) is decorated with a series of sculptures illustrative of the exploits of the king in the hunting field.

We have now completed the tour of the chief rooms of this explored portion of the royal palace, and one or two important variations from the structure and decoration of the palace of S argon at Khorsabad are to be noticed. In the first place, several of the rooms are larger than those at Khorsabad, and the arrangement with regard to each other is by no means so systematic, there being no trace of that series of complete blocks which made the former so perfect a plan. As an example of this, I may point to the almost complete seclusion of the Susianian room, and the manifest variation of the plan from those of the palaces of Sennacherib, Sargon, or the kings of the middle empire.

A still more striking innovation is the introduction of columns in the principal doorways. As this palace was erected shortly after the king's victorious campaigns in Egypt, which culminated in the capture of Thebes and Memphis, the introduction of these columned portals may be due to foreign influence. In the account of his spoliation of Thebes, the Assyrian kingstates that he brought from there " two great obelisks of polished granite, of which their weight was 2500 talents. Standing before the gate of a temple, from their position I removed them, and to Assyria conducted them " (Cylinder, Rm. i., col. ii., 41-43). These objects were evidently strange to the Assyrian king, as he applies to them the name temien, or "foundation-stones," a word also applied to the boundary-stones or land-marks to which the king no doubt compared them. There must have been very great difficulty in transporting these objects so far, their weight being a little over ninety-one tons. Some idea of the manual labour which the Assyrians could command is to be gained from the sculptures in the Koyunjik room representing the building of Sennacherib's palace, but what must the work have been of conveying these great monoliths from the Syrian coast overland to Nineveh !

The palace of Assurbanipal was commenced on the 15th day of the month Iyar (April-May), in the Eponym year of Assur-danin-ani, the prefect of Akkad; that would be, according to the Eponym canon, the year B.C. 640. In the construction of the palace the king employed the captives and spoil taken of the Elamite cities, and the captive Arabs and their kings captured in his Arab wars.

This would place the building of this palace as late as B.C. 650 at least, and account in a great measure for the unfinished state of several of the chambers and corridors. Just as the palace of Sargon at Khorsabad had exceeded all former palaces in the completeness of its plan, so did this new palace, the last of Assyria's royal residences, excel all former palaces in the beauty of its sculptured decorations.

The stiff conventional work of the middle empire, such as adorned the palaces of Assurnazirpal and Shalmanesar in the city of Calah, had now given place to a more finished style, and the wars and ceremonies of the great king were represented in a series of stone tableaux of the highest artistic merit. This improvement first makes itself apparent in the sculptures from the palace of Sennacherib on the south-east extremity of the Koyunjik mound, which represent the Syrian wars, including the siege of Lachish, and the wars in Babylonia against Merodach-baladan ; although perhaps an earlier phase of this development may be seen in the close attention to detail exhibited in the bronze reliefs from the temple at Ballawat.

In the historical sculptures from the palace of Assurnazir-pal (B.C. 885), in the Kimroud gallery of the British Museum (No. 7, 18), we see a series of representations of the wars of this king, the march of the army, the crossing of rivers, the encampment, the siege and surrender of cities ; all these incidents are depicted in a regular machine-like manner; no attempt is made to indicate the locality of the cities or campaigns, nor is any attempt made to distinguish the nations against whom the Assyrians are fighting. In the bronze gates from Ballawat we see the first attempts to render these sculptured tableaux really illustrative of the annals of the king.

The nature of the material emplo} r ed did not admit of any very great accuracy ; but we can see that one city is distinct from another, and special local features, such as the spot where the king's statue was carved on the shores of Lake Van, or at the head waters of the Subnat, the modern Tebbeneh Su, are represented in a much more accurate manner. Some distinction, too, is made between the various races against whom the king is fighting, as between the people of Uradhi or Ararat, and the Hittites and Babylonians. In the sculptures of the time of Sennacherib and his successors, this idea of rendering the works a series of folio plates to illustrate the campaigns described on the cylinders and tablets, and to make them as accurate in local and ethnic features as possible, is carried to a very advanced stage.

In the wars against Merodach-baladan we have the thick marshes of tall reeds which formed the lower portion of the Tigro-Euphrates delta, the modern Afadj, the land of Gumbulu or Guzummani of the inscriptions. The population then bade defiance to the Assyrians, as at the present time the half-bred Arabs of this district do to the Turkish pashas of Bagdad, in their reed islands, darting from one to the other in boats and rafts. In these sculptures we see the artist must have studied and endeavoured to reproduce the local features of the region. The Babylonian supporters of Merodach-baladan are here represented as hiding in the islands, or escaping from the Assyrian soldiers in boats and rafts. On the banks of the rivers, on the more solid ground, are groves of palm trees ; the whole being an excellent illustration of the flight of the Babylonian prince, thus described by Sennacherib : — " In the beginning of my reign I accomplished the overthrow of Merodach-baladan, king of Ganduniyas, with the armies of Elam, within the neighbourhood of the city of Kisu (Hymer).

In the midst of that battle he forsook his camp, he fled alone, to the country of Guzummani he fled. Among the marshes and pools he descended, and his life thus he saved. I also took the road after him, to the country of Guzummani, my fighting men to the midst of the pools and marshes I urged, and five days they moved about rapidly, but his hiding-place was not seen" (Bellin's Cylinder, 6, 7, and 11). The Babylonians, represented in these sculptures (B.M., K.G., No. 4-8), are distinct in type from the Assyrian soldiers — shorter in statue, with close curly hair, and small e3 7 es, and high cheek bones, as if retaining the type of their Akkadian ancestors. So in like manner in slabs representing campaigns in Palestine (B.M., A.B., 21-32 ;\B.M., K.G., 20-26) is the Jewish, Arab, or Negro face clearly to be distinguished from the Assyrian.

Not only has the artist endeavoured to be accurate in details, but he has introduced some incidents into his tableau, such as fishermen on rafts or skins angling in the river, women giving water to their children, or groups of people flying from the enemy, with their household goods on carts — all of these tending to give a far more realistic character to these sculptures than was the case with the work of the artists of the 8th and 9th centuries before our era.

These sculptures so accurately represent the various types of people with whom the Assyrians came in contact, that they are of the highest value for the study of the ethnology of Western Asia. Accurate as the Assyrians were in the representation of these foreign nations, they seem to have been strangely conservative in regard to themselves. From the earliest time down to this period of Assyrian art there is no attempt at portraiture — the same type of face, sometimes with a beard, sometimes beardless, is given indiscriminately to their figures — the differences which exist between one face and another during all this time being due only to the slight modification of style which took place.

Although Assyrian art was so stereotyped in regard to portraiture, it attained a very high perfection in other branches, notably in the representation of animal life ; and the highest developement is exhibited in the sculptures from the lion hunt room. So fine are these sculptures, so free from the conventionalties which had hitherto fettered Assyrian art, that some German critics have gone so far as to suggest that Grecian artists were employed on them. Such a competent authority, however, as Mr Poynter, B.A., very effectively combats this idea by calling attention to the very primitive condition of the arts in Greece during the middle of the seventh century before the Christian era. These sculptures, which now adorn the Assyrian basement of the British Museum, prove that the artists must have studied with close attention the habits of the lion, wild ass, and gazelle, and endeavoured to reproduce them with the utmost fidelity. I may mention such striking examples as the paralysed lion shot through the spine, or a still more perfectly finished group of a lion and lioness, in which the latter is crouching with cat-like playfulness at his feet.

AVe have now seen how these sculptured tableaux, ranged line after line along the walls of the halls of the royal palaces, formed large plates illustrative of the history of the reigns of the kings whose abodes they adorned.

In this brief account of the royal palaces of Assyria, we learn how little is the change in Oriental life during a long range of centuries. The same groups of state rooms, the secluded and richly decorated harem, and the accommodation for hosts of servants and soldiers, constitute the residence of an eastern sultan or pasha at the present time, as they did twenty-five centuries ago the abode of the lords of Assyria.