Ancient History & Civilisation



PART THREE

THE BOOK OF THE TOWERS

The Kingdoms of Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumeria

My father, and the father of my father, pitched their tents here before me.… For twelve hundred years have the true believers—and, praise be to God! all true wisdom is with them alone—been settled in this country, and not one of them ever heard of a palace under ground. Neither did they who went before them. But lo! here comes a Frank from many days’ journey off, and he walks up to the very place, and he takes a stick … and makes a line here, and makes a line there. Here, says he, is the palace; there, says he, is the gate; and he shows us what has been all our lives beneath our feet, without our having known anything about it. Wonderful! wonderful! Is it by books, is it by magic, is it by your prophets, that you have learnt these things? Speak, O Bey; tell me the secret of your wisdom.

—Sheik Abd-er-Rahman to Austin Layard

Eros frieze, showing Amor greeting the winner of a race among the gods of love.

The famous Pompelian wall paintings.

The sacrifice of Iphigenia, from the House of the Tragic Poet. With the help of two others, Calchas is about to offer up the virgin. Agamemnon stands weeping beside the Column of Artemis.

Photo, John H. Heffren, Courtesy Naples Museum

PLATE I

Photo, Italian State Tourist Office

Via Dell Abbondanza, Pompeii, much as it looked in A.D. 79.

PLATE II

Photo by D. Anderson, Rome

The Chimera of Arezzo. From the Museo Archeologico, Florence. The bronze sculpture shows old Greek influence combined with the Etruscan. It was cast half a millennium before the destruction of Pompeii.

Photos Nellys, from National Museum, Athens

Schliemann’s great find at the site of Troy, the golden treasure of one of the mightiest kings of prehistory. A golden mask.

A gold hairpin.

A gold necklace.

A golden bracelet.

Gold leaf-shaped ornaments.

PLATE III

Women of Crete, about 1600 B.C., during the golden age of the Cretan-Mycenæan culture. A wall painting.

Brightly colored faïence statuette from the Minoan Palace of Knossos.

PLATE IV

Richly ornamented vessels still in place in the old storerooms at Knossos.

One of the bull-paintings, similar to those found by Arthur Evans at Knossos, and before him by Schliemann at Tiryns. Are the youths dancers, acrobats, or bullfighters? Or is the painting intended to portray the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, and of the seven youths and maidens brought to Crete to be sacrificed to the bull of Minos?

Photo Nellys

PLATE V

PLATE VI

Photo from Ewing Galloway, N.Y.

The Step Pyramid of Sakkara, built by Imhotep for King Zoser, Third Dynasty, about 2950 B.C.

Photo, Hamilton Wright

The Step Pyramid of Medum, built by King Snefru, Fourth Dynasty, about 2900 B.C. Orginally this pyramid had seven steps, of which only three remain.

Colonnade in the Temple of Karnak. Built during the reign of Ramses II, Nineteenth Dynasty, about 1250 B.c. The bare monumentality of the Old Kingdom, as shown in the pyramids, has now been replaced by an intricately embellished though still massive style, distinguished by much low relief, or incised sculpture.

PLATE VII

Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

Noble Egyptian women. Part of a wall painting from the tomb of Weserhet at Thebes, Nineteenth Dynasty, about 1300 B.C.

PLATE VIII

The Valley of the Kings. The passage leading into the tomb of Tutankhamen begins behind the low stone wall. Next to it, on the left, running into the hill on which the buildings stand, is the entrance to the tomb of Ramses VI. This photograph gives a good impression of the intensity of archaeological excavation in the valley. Not a stone has been left unturned on this site.

PLATE IX

PLATE X

Nefertiti. Found in the workshop of a sculptor named Thutmose at Tell-el-Amarna, by a German expedition headed by Ludwig Borchardt in 1912–14. It was unfinished, one of the eyes not having been painted. For some reason the Germans did not reveal its existence until 1925 when there was a world-wide Egyptological scandal about it.

PLATE XI

Tutankhamen’s throne, made of wood covered with gold leaf, and decorated with faïence, glass, and gem inlay. The young king is shown with his wife, Anches-en-Amen. The king probably looked like this at the time of his death at the age of eighteen.

PLATE XII

Howard Carter opens the door of the second gilded shrine, wherein he supposes Tutankhamen’s coffin to be. He is photographed in the act of looking at a third gilded shrine.

Howard Carter rolls back the pall covering Tutankhamen’s second coffin.

The second coffin exposed. The photographs clearly indicate how tightly it was nested within the first (outer) coffin.

PLATE XIII

The golden mask covering Tutankhamen’s head and shoulders. It’s made of polished gold and is inlaid with pieces of many-colored glass, lapis lazuli, green feldspar, cornelian, alabaster, and obsidian.

PLATE XIV

Dr. Derry, in the presence of a scientific commission, makes the first cut into the wrappings of Tutankhamen’s mummy.

PLATE XV

The head of the mummy of Ynaa, father-in-law of King Amenhu-det III. Found by Theodore Davis in the Valley of the Kings.

PLATE XVI

Photos, Metropolitan Museum of Art

PLATE XVII

Lion hunting, the sport of Assyrian monarchs. An injured lioness raises her head in a last roar. Alabaster relief from the North Palace, Nineveh.

PLATE XVIII

Assurnasirpal II. Statue found in his residence. Kalchu (Nimrud).

PLATE XIX

Tablet with cuneiform text on left side. This relief is presumed, on best authority, to show the Babylonian King Baliddin (c. 700 B.C.) with the great god Marduk. On the shelf above may be seen the “dragon of Babylon,” or “Sirrush.”

PLATE XX

The stele of Naram-Sin, a Babylonian King, said to have ruled for fifty-five years. Naram-Sin belonged to the Akkad Dynasty (c. 2300 B.C.). The stele was excavated in Susa in 1899. It is approximately two yards and a little more in height. On it the King is shown victorious over the mountain people, above all over the Lulubu.

Statuette of a Sumerian Queen, probably dating to the Third Millennium B.C.

Statue of Gudea, the ruling prince, or king-priest, of the province of Lagash. A statue of this monarch, found by Ernest de Sarzec, now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, set archæology on the trail of the Sumerians.

PLATE XXI

Photo, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Reconstruction of the ziggurat (temple-tower) of Ur in Chaldea. It was here that the Englishman, Leonard Woolley, began his diggings, and found the richest evidence of what is probably the oldest culture on earth, that of the “black-headed” Sumerians.

PLATE XXII

Headdress of the Sumerian Queen Shub-ad, one of the oldest queens known today. She is supposed to have lived more than four thousand years ago. Leonard Woolley found the headdress in the royal tombs of Ur. Katharine Woolley modeled the head after a female skull from the same period.

PLATE XXIII

Ornamentation on the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacán. A broad flight of stairs runs from the base to the peak. The pyramid was already old—its exact age is unknown—when the Spanish conquistador Cortés climbed its steps.

PLATE XXIV

Photograph of an old Mayan stele, found about a hundred years ago in Copán (modern Honduras) by Stephens.

PLATE XXV

Copán probably looked like this before the great migration of the Mayas. The city was a huge temple complex, one comparable to anything in the Old World. Stephens bought these ruins for $50.

PLATE XXVI

A small, single-room structure at Chichén-Itzá, Yucatán, known as “the Iglesia.” It belongs to the early or Old Empire period of the Mayas.

PLATE XXVII

Facade of the Casa del Gobernador in Uxmal, one of the three great cities of the Maya “New Empire,” founded after the sudden and mysterious abandonment of the “Old Empire.” This marvelously detailed drawing was made by Frederick Catherwood more than a hundred years ago.

PLATE XXVIII

Temple of the Warriors in Chichén-Itzá. This temple is one of the most significant artifacts of the Maya “New Empire.” Its sculpture and ornamentation show the Toltec influence. A reconstruction.

PLATE XXIX

The roof, now gone, of the Temple of the Warriors rested on the flattened crook in the erected tails of these snake columns. Only in the Maya culture do columns derive architecturally from animal motifs.

PLATE XXX

Thompson dredging the Sacred Well of Chichén-Itzá. View across the slimy surface through which Thompson descended and retrieved maidens’ skeletons and golden ornaments. The dredge at work. The top of the small ruined building behind the crane is the ancient platform from which the sacrificial victims were thrown into the pool.

PLATE XXXI

Courtesy American Museum of Natural History

PLATE XXXII

Cast of the National Stone, an Aztec sculpture thought to be a small-scale model of a temple surmounted by a calendar stone. It was found in 1926 in the foundation of the south tower of the National Palace (Zócalo); it had been seen in 1831 when the foundations were dug, but no one bothered to salvage it.

18/BOTTA FINDS NINEVEH

The Bible tells of God’s chastisement of the Jews by the Assyrians, “the rod of mine anger,” of the Tower of Babel and the splendors of Nineveh, of the seventy-year captivity and the great Nebuchadnezzar, God’s judgment upon the “whore of Babylon” and the chalice of His wrath to be poured by seven angels over the lands along the Euphrates. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah pour forth their terrifying visions of the destruction to come upon “the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency [that] shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,” so that “wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses and dragons in their pleasant palaces” (Isaiah 13–19, 22).

During the centuries of Christian faith the word of the Bible was unassailable and the letter was sacred. Criticism came with the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. Yet the nineteenth century, when the criticism inherent in all the materialist philosophies hardened into permanent doubt, simultaneously brought forth evidence for the historical truths so plentifully embedded in the Bible, overlaid though it was by much subsequent embroidery.

Flat was the land between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, but here and there mysterious mounds rose out of the plain. Dust storms swirled about these protuberances, piling the black earth into steep dunes, which grew steadily for a hundred years, only to be dispersed in the course of another five hundred. The Bedouins who rested by these mounds, letting their camels graze on the meager fodder growing at the base, had no idea what they might contain. Believers in Allah, and in Mohammed, his prophet, they knew nothing of the Biblical passages describing their arid land. A question was needed, a powerful intimation, to set in motion the solution of the mounds’ layered secrets. This and an attack by an energetic Westerner who knew how to make bold use of pick and shovel.

The man who was destined to drive the first spade into that ground was born in France in 1803. Until he was past thirty he had not the slightest intimation of the task that was to be his life’s work. For it was at that age that he, then a physician, returned from an Egyptian expedition. At his arrival in Cairo he had a number of boxes among his luggage. The police demanded that they be opened. They contained, meticulously stuck on rows of pins, twelve thousand insects.

Fourteen years later this physician and entomologist published a five-volume work on Assyria that proved no less significant a stimulus to the scientific study of Mesopotamia than the twenty-four-volume Description de l’Égypte had been for Egyptology.

Not quite a century later a book appeared in Germany (as similar works did in France and England) by Professor Bruno Meissner, entitled Könige Babylons und Assyriens (Kings of Babylon and Assyria).

The importance of this work lies least of all in its contribution to scholarship. But it was not intended as such. Its aim was merely to report, for the general reader, on rulers who flourished two to five thousand years ago. The real significance of this book, and of all books like it by scholars of other countries, for our story of the development of archæology lies in the fact that it could be written at all, and in a popular form at that. For, to cite the introduction: “Such a presentation requires historical data that will contribute rich color to the image of those great men and women, so that they will come alive for us.”

What about those historical data? Disregarding the mythicized material in the Old Testament, the fact was that “Not much more than a century ago, the history of Assyria was a sealed book, and only a few decades ago the Babylonian and Assyrian kings were hardly more than names to us. Can it be possible, so short a time afterwards, to recount the two thousand years of Mesopotamian history, including real character studies of the kings?”

Meissner’s book, among others, proved that this had become possible in our own century. It shows that in a matter of a few decades a number of obsessed excavators, scholars, and amateurs were able to lift an entire culture to the light. The book even offered an appendix with a chronological table giving, with few omissions, the names and dates of the Mesopotamian rulers. This table was put together by Ernest F. Weidner, one of the most peculiar among the often very peculiar Assyriologists. For twenty years Weidner sat as an obscure second-string editor in the offices of the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung. Here he edited serial stories and crossword puzzles. One day the modest man approached the managing editor most apologetically with an, for him, extraordinary request: there was some unavoidable business he had to attend to, could he have tomorrow morning off? Of course he could, said the managing editor; he was not to give it a thought. Next day Weidner was not at his desk, but a reporter came storming in waving a news item over his head. It seemed that Ernst Weidner, the nondescript colleague with whom they had been sitting desk-by-jowl for so many years without suspicion, had just won a high award at a special convocation of eminent scholars. For some time he had been quietly publishing on the side important articles about Assyrian chronology and editing an international scholarly journal with a press run of a few hundred copies that went only to universities and isolated scholars.

The office was still buzzing with the story when the distinguished Assyriologist turned up—a bit sheepish, not so much because he had been unmasked, but because he had arrived for his award ceremony only to be told that he was a bit late: it had taken place the previous day. It was not long before Weidner was back in his usual dusty corner. There he stayed until 1942, when waves of Allied bomber attacks made any scholarly work in the capital of the Third Reich impossible, and Weidner was prevailed upon to accept a professorship in Austria. (It was to Weidner I brought my virgin effort in writing about the history of archæology, a piece entitled “On the Decipherment of an Unknown Script.” I was just twenty years old. Yet Weidner, the eminent expert, who was involved in the decipherment of Hittite cuneiform among other things, took this article from my hand without batting an eye and published it in the Berliner Illustrierte in 1935.)

What had made the appearance of such books as Meissner’s possible was a triumph of scholarship that must be ranked above, for example, Lepsius’s first Egyptian chronology. Three generations of fanatics labored indefatigably to scrape and gather together the facts compiled in them. These books were made possible by innumerable hours of work in an office of the French consulate in Mosul, in a teacher’s study in Göttingen, under the broiling sun between Tigris and Euphrates, as well as in a little ship’s cabin in which an English naval officer sat poring over bits of cuneiform under a lamp swinging like a pendulum.

What emerged from all this hard work was one of archæology’s greatest triumphs, if only because the land of mounds showed no visible traces of past greatness. There were no temples and statues to fire the archæological effort, as on the classic earth of Greece and Italy. No pyramids and obelisks reared into the sky as in Egypt, and there were no sacrificial stone blocks to tell a mute story of the gory hecatombs of Mexico and the wilderness of Yucatán. The blank faces of Bedouin and Kurd failed to reflect their ancestral greatness. Local legends reached back little farther in time than the glamorous days of Harun al-Rashid. Earlier centuries swam in twilight and mist. The modern languages spoken in the land of mounds exhibited no intelligible relationship to the languages spoken thousands of years before.

Outside the mounds scattered over the dusty plain, the investigators had little to go on but some poetical descriptions from the Bible. That and some clay shards, covered with cuneiform characters which, as one early observer said, looked as if “birds had been walking over wet sand,” and which many archæologists at first mistook for mere ornament. For all these reasons the archæological conquest in this arena was particularly memorable.

In the Old Testament the region between the Tigris and the Euphrates was called, simply, Aram-naharaim—Syria (land) between the two rivers—this being the Hebraic equivalent for the Greek Mesopotamia. Here were located the famous cities on which the God of the Bible visited His mighty wrath. Here, in Nineveh and Babylon, reigned terrible kings who had other gods besides Him and therefore had to be expunged from the face of the earth.

Today it is called Iraq, and Baghdad is its capital. To the north the area is bounded by Turkey, on the west by French-mandated Syria and Transjordan, on the south by Saudi Arabia and to the east by Persia, or Iran in modern usage.

The two rivers called the Tigris and the Euphrates, which made the land a cradle of culture even as the Nile gave life to Egypt, arise in Turkey. They flow from the northwest to the southeast, come together a short distance above present-day Basra—this was not so in ancient times—and empty into the Persian Gulf.

Assyria, the old land of Assur (Asshur), stretched out in the north along the rapidly flowing Tigris. Babylonia, the ancient Sumeria and Akkad, spread out in the south between the Euphrates and the Tigris as far down as the green waters of the Persian Gulf. In anencyclopedia of general information that appeared in 1867, under the heading of Mesopotamia, the following entry is found: “The land reached its peak under the Assyrian and Babylonian rule. Under the rule of the Arabs it became a possession of the Caliphate, and again bloomed. But with the Seljuk, Tartar, and Turkish incursions, it began to decline, and at present is in part an uninhabited desert.”

Out of the deserts of Mesopotamia rise mysterious mounds, flat-topped, with steep, often eroded slopes, cracked open like the dried sheep-milk cheeses of the Bedouins. These curious mounds kindled the imagination of inquiring spirits to such a degree that it was in Mesopotamia that archæology as an excavational art celebrated its initial triumphs.

As a young man Paul Émile Botta had already made a trip around the world. In 1830 he entered the service of Mohammed Ali as a physician, and in this capacity also accompanied the Egyptian commission to Sennar. In 1833 the French government made him consul in Alexandria, from which point he made a trip into Yemen, the results of which he comprehensively recorded in a book. In 1840 he was appointed consular agent in Mosul, on the upper Tigris. Evenings, at twilight, when Botta had fled the suffocating heat of the bazaars to refresh himself on horseback excursions out into the countryside, he would see the strange mounds that dotted the landscape everywhere.

But it is not fair to imply that he was the first to notice these startling prominences. Older travelers—Kinneir, Rich, Ainsworth—had already suspected that ruins lay beneath them. The most interesting of these earlier explorers was C. J. Rich, a prodigy like Champollion, who commenced to study the Oriental languages at the age of nine. At fourteen he was already dipping into Chinese. At twenty-four he was counsel for the East India Company in Baghdad. From that vantage point he made trips through the whole valley of Mesopotamia, bringing home valuable booty for the science of his day. Englishmen and Frenchmen, much more often than Germans, Russians, and Italians, have combined an interest in science and the arts with practical affairs. Often, in adventurous fashion, they have been shining representatives of their nationalities in foreign parts and are remembered as men who knew how to combine a high respect for the political necessities with scientific and artistic labors. More recent examples of this type of personality are Paul Claudel and André Malraux, the French authors, and T. E. Lawrence, the English soldier.

Botta was such a man. As a physician he was interested in natural science and as a diplomat he knew how to make the most of his social connections. He was everything, it would seem, but an archæologist. What he did bring to his future task was a knowledge of native tongues, and an ability, developed during his extensive travels, to establish friendly relations with the followers of the Prophet. He also had a fine constitution and a boundless capacity for work, which even the murderous climate of Yemen and the swampy Nile flat-lands could not dent.

Botta set to work without any plan or basic hypothesis to guide him. Vague hope, mingled with curiosity, carried him along. And when he was successful, no one was more surprised than he.

Evening after evening, having closed up his office, with wonderful persistence he reconnoitered the landscape about Mosul. He went from house to house, from hut to hut, always asking the same questions: Have you any antiquities for sale? Old pots? An old vase, perhaps? Where did you get the bricks for building this outhouse? Where did you get these clay fragments with the strange characters on them?

Botta bought everything he could lay hands on. But when he asked the sellers to show him the place where the pieces came from, they shrugged their shoulders, explaining that Allah was great and that such things were strewn about everywhere. One need only look to find them.

Botta saw that he was getting nowhere by quizzing the natives. He decided to try his hand with the spade at the nearest mound of any size, the one at Kuyunjik.

One must imagine what it meant to persist in such apparently fruitless activity; what it meant, particularly, when there was nothing to spur on the would-be digger but the ambiguous notion that the mound might contain something worth the effort of excavation; what it meant to go on day after day, week after week, month after month, without finding anything more rewarding than a few battered bricks covered with signs that nobody could read, or a few sculptured torsos, so badly broken that the original form was quite unrecognizable.

A whole year long!

Should we wonder, therefore, when Botta, after the year had run out, during which innumerable false leads had been brought to him by the natives, at first dismissed a talkative Arab who, in colorful language, reported a mound containing a rich store of all the things the Frank was looking for? The Arab gabbled on, ever more importunately, about how he came from a distant village, how he had heard about the Frank’s search, how he loved the Franks and wanted to help them. Was it bricks with inscriptions that Botta wanted? There were masses of them where he lived in Khorsabad, right near his native village. He ought to know, for he had built his own stove out of these same bricks, and everybody else in his village had done the same since time immemorial.

When Botta found he could not rid himself of the Arab, he sent a couple of his workmen to look over the alleged site, some nine or ten miles away.

By sending off this little expedition Botta was eventually to immortalize his name in the history of archæology. The identity of the Arab informant is forgotten, lost in the drift of the years. But Botta is still remembered as the first to disclose the remains of a culture that had flowered for almost two thousand years, and for more than two millennia and a half had slumbered under the black earth between the two rivers, forgotten by men.

A Syrian fortress is taken. Relief on the outer side of the north wall of the Great Temple of Medinet Habu.

A week later an excited messenger came back to report to his master. Hardly had they turned the first spadeful of earth, the man said, when walls came to light. These walls, when freed of the worst of the dirt that clogged them, proved to be richly carved. There were all kinds of pictures, reliefs, terrible stone animals.

Botta rode over to the site posthaste. A few hours later he was squatting in a pit, drawing the most curious figures imaginable—bearded men, winged animals, figures unlike any that he had ever seen in Egypt, and certainly unlike any sculptures familiar to European eyes. Shortly afterwards he moved his crew from Kuyunjik to the new site, where he put them to work with pick and shovel. And soon Botta no longer doubted that he had discovered, if not all of Nineveh, certainly one of the most splendid palaces of the Assyrian kings.

The moment came when, no longer able to keep this conviction to himself, he sent the news to Paris, and so out into the world. “I believe,” he wrote with pride, and the newspapers made headlines of it, “that I am the first to discover sculptures that can be truly identified with the period when Nineveh was at its height.”

The discovery of the first Assyrian palace was not only a newspaper sensation. Egypt had always been thought of as the cradle of civilization, for nowhere else could the history of mankind be traced back so far. Hitherto only the Bible had had anything pertinent to say about the land between the two rivers, and for nineteenth-century science the Bible was a collection of legends. The sparse evidence found in the ancient writers was taken more seriously than the Biblical sources. The facts offered by these early writers were not entirely unbelievable, yet often they contradicted one another and could not be made to agree with Biblical dates.

Botta’s finds, in consequence, amounted to a demonstration that a culture as old as the Egyptian or even older had once flourished in Mesopotamia—older if one cared to give credence to Biblical accounts. It had risen in might and splendor, only to sink, under fire and sword, into oblivion.

France was fired by Botta’s revelations. Aid was mobilized on the most generous scale to enable Botta to continue with his work. He dug for three years, from 1843 to 1846. He fought the climate, sickness, the opposition of the natives, and the interference of the pasha, the despotic Turkish governor of the country. This greedy official could think of only one explanation for Botta’s tireless excavations: the Frenchman must be looking for gold.

The pasha took Botta’s Arab workmen away from him and threatened them with whippings and imprisonment to get them to tell him Botta’s secret. He ringed the hill of Khorsabad with guards, he wrote complaining letters to Constantinople. But Botta was not the sort to be intimidated. His diplomatic experience now came in handy: he countered intrigue with intrigue. The result was that the pasha gave the Frenchman official permission to continue with his project, but unofficially he forbade all natives, on pain of dire punishment, to have anything to do with the Frank. Botta’s diggings, he said, were nothing but a pretext for building a fortress to be used in depriving the Mesopotamian peoples of their freedom.

Undeterred, Botta pressed on with his work.

Assyrian Cavalry.

The palace was laid bare, rising up from mighty terraces. Archæologists who had rushed to the site on reading Botta’s original report of his find recognized the structure as the palace of King Sargon, the one mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah. It was, in fact, a summer palace that had stood on the outskirts of Nineveh, a sort of Versailles, a gigantic Sans Souci built in the year 709 B.C., after the conquest of Babylon. Wall after wall emerged from the rubble, courtyards with richly ornamented portals took shape, public reception rooms, corridors, private apartments, a tripartite seraglio, and the remains of a terraced tower.

The number of sculptures and reliefs was staggering. At one swoop the mysterious Assyrian people were lifted out of the abyss of the past. Here were their reliefs, their household implements, their weapons; here they could be visualized in the domestic round, at war, on the hunt.

The sculptures, however, which in many cases had been made of highly destructible alabaster, fell apart under the hot desert sun after being removed from the protective covering of debris and earth. The French government then commissioned Eugène Napoléon Flandin to help Botta, and he went at once to the Middle East. Flandin was a draftsman of note, who in the past had gone with an archæological expedition that explored Persian sites, and later had written books about his experiences, containing excellent drawings of ancient sculptures. Flandin became for Botta what Vivant Denon had been for Napoleon’s Egyptian commission. But whereas Denon had drawn enduring structures, Flandin had to make hurried records of material that was falling apart under his eyes.

Botta succeeded in loading a whole series of sculptures on rafts. But the Tigris, here at its upper course, was a fast-flowing and tempestuous mountain stream. The rafts whirled about, spun like tops. They tipped to one side, and the stone gods and kings of Assyria, newly resurrected from oblivion, sank once more out of sight.

Botta refused to be discouraged. He sent a new load downriver, this time taking all imaginable precautions, and the trip was a success. At the river mouth the precious pieces of sculpture were loaded aboard an ocean-going vessel, and in due course the first Assyrian carvings arrived on European shores. A few months later they were on exhibition in the Louvre.

Botta himself continued to work on a large freize, until eventually a commission of nine archæologists took the task off his hands. One member of the commission was Burnouf, soon to be known as one of the most important French archæologists—a quarter of a century later he became Heinrich Schliemann’s oftcited “learned friend.” Another was a young Englishman named Austen Layard, whose later fame was to eclipse Botta’s.

Yet Botta ought not to be forgotten. He was the trail-breaker in Assyria, as Belzoni was in Egypt. Like Belzoni, he was a furious “digger,” a determined seeker after booty for the Louvre. The role of “collector” in Nineveh, corresponding to one played by Mariette in Cairo, was filled by another French consul, Victor Place. Botta’s account of Nineveh: Monuments de Ninive découverts et décrits par Botta, mesurés et dessinés par Flandin, is numbered among the classics of archæological literature. The first two of its five volumes contain plates of architectural and sculptural subjects, the third and fourth the collected inscriptions, and the fifth the descriptions.

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