A History of Art in Chaldaea & Assyria Part 14

[164] The remains of stone walls are at least so rare in Lower Mesopotamia that we may disregard their existence. In my researches I have only found mention of a single example. At Abou-Sharein TAYLOR found a building in which an upper story was supported by a mass of crude brick faced with blocks of dressed sandstone. The stones of the lower courses were held together by mortar, those of the upper ones by bitumen. We have no information as to the "bond" or the size of stones used (_Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_, vol. xv. p. 408). The materials for this revetment must have been quarried in one of those rocky hills--islands, perhaps, formerly--with which Lower Chaldaea is sparsely studded. TAYLOR mentions one seven miles west of Mugheir, in the desert that stretches away towards Arabia from the right bank of the Euphrates (_Journal_, &c. vol. xv. p.


[165] We shall here give a _resume_ of M. Place's observations (_Ninive et l'Assyrie_, vol. i. pp. 31-34).

[166] PLACE, _Ninive_, &c. vol. i. p.

[167] _Ibid._ p. 33.

[168] In every country in which buildings have been surmounted by flat roofs, this precaution has been taken--"When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence." (_Deuteronomy_ xxii. 8).

See also _Les Monuments en Chaldee, en Assyrie et a Babylon, d'apres les recentes decouvertes archeologique, avec neuf planches lithographies_, 8vo, by H. CAVANIOL, published in 1870 by Durand et Pedone-Lauriel. It contains a very good _resume_, especially in the matter of architecture, of those labours of French and English explorers to which we owe our knowledge of Chaldaea and Assyria.

[169] PLACE, _Ninive et l'Assyrie_, vol i. p. 64.

[170] XENOPHON, _Anabasis_, iii. 4, 7-11. The identity of Larissa and Mespila has been much discussed. Oppert thinks they were Resen and Dour-Saryoukin; others that they were Calech and Nineveh. The question is without importance to our inquiry. In any case the circumference of six parasangs (about 20-1/2 miles) ascribed by the Greek writer to his Mespila can by no means be made to fit Khorsabad.

[171] See the _History of Art in Ancient Egypt_, vol. i. p. 113.

[172] BOTTA tells us how the courses of crude brick were distinguished one from another at Khorsabad (_Monuments de Ninive_, vol. v. p. 57).

[173] Speaking of Hillah, GEORGE SMITH tells us (_Assyrian Discoveries_, p.

62):--"A little to the south rose the town of Hillah, built with the bricks found in the old capital. The natives have established a regular trade in these bricks for building purposes. A number of men are always engaged in digging out the bricks from the ruins, while others convey them to the banks of the Euphrates. There they are packed in rude boats, which float them down to Hillah, and on being landed they are loaded on donkeys and taken to any place where building is in progress. Every day when at Hillah I used to see this work going on as it had gone on for centuries, Babylon thus slowly disappearing without an effort being made to ascertain the dimensions and buildings of the city, or to recover what remains of its monuments. The northern portion of the wall, outside the Babil mound, is the place where the work of destruction is now (1874) most actively going on, and this in some places has totally disappeared."

[174] LAYARD, _Discoveries_, &c. p. 110.

[175] LAYARD, _Nineveh_, vol. ii. p. 279. "The bricks had no mortar but the mud from which they had been made," says BOTTA (_Monuments de Ninive_, vol.

v. p. 30).

[176] LAYARD, _Discoveries_, &c. p. 503.

[177] LAYARD, _Discoveries_, pp. 499 and 506.

[178] TAYLOR, _Notes on the Ruins of Mugheir_ (_Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_, vol. xv. p. 261). This mortar is still employed in the country; it is called _kharour_.

[179] The most plentiful springs occur at Hit, on the middle Euphrates.

They are also found, however, farther north, as at Kaleh-Shergat, near the Tigris. Over a wide stretch of country in that district the bitumen wells up through every crack in the soil (LAYARD, _Nineveh_, vol. ii. p. 46). As for the bituminous springs of Hammam-Ali, near Mossoul, see PLACE, _Ninive et l'Assyrie_, vol. i. p. 236.

[180] _Genesis_ xi. 3.

[181] HERODOTUS, i. 179.

[182] _Warka, its Ruins and Remains_, by W. KENNETH LOFTUS, p. 9. (In the _Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature_, second series, Part I.) According to SIR HENRY RAWLINSON this introduction of layers of reeds or rushes between the courses of brick continued in all this region at least down to the Parthian epoch. Traces of it are to be found in the walls of Seleucia and Ctesiphon (RAWLINSON'S _Herodotus_, vol. i. p. 300 note 1).

[183] LOFTUS, _Travels and Researches_, i. p. 169. The abundance of bitumen in the ruins of Mugheir is such that the modern name of the town has sprung from it; the word means the _bituminous_ (TAYLOR, _Notes on the Ruins of Mugheir_).

[184] PLACE, _Ninive et l'Assyrie_, vol. i. p. 236; LAYARD, _Nineveh_, vol.

ii. p. 261.

[185] LOFTUS, _Warka, its Ruins_, &c. p. 10.

[186] PLACE, _Ninive_, vol. i. pp. 29 and 248.

[187] TAYLOR, _Notes on Abou-Sharein and Tell-el-Lahm_ (_Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_, vol. xv. p. 408).

[188] BOTTA, _Monument de Ninive_, vol. v. p. 58.

[189] NIEBUHR (_Voyage en Arabie_, vol. ii. p. 235) noticed this, and his observations have since been confirmed by many other visitors to the ruins of Babylon. KER PORTER (vol. ii. p. 391) noticed them in the ruins of Al-Heimar. See also TAYLOR on "_Mugheir_," &c. (_Journal_, &c. vol. xv. p.

261). At Birs-Nimroud these conduits are about nine inches high and between five and six wide. They are well shown in the drawing given by FLANDIN and COSTE of this ruin (_Perse ancienne et moderne_, pl. 221. cf. text 1, p.


[190] TAYLOR, _Notes on the Ruins of Mugheir_ (_Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society_), vol. xv. pp. 268-269.

[191] At Khorsabad the average height of the alabaster lining is about ten feet; above that about three feet of brick wall remains.

[192] LAYARD, _Nineveh_, vol. i. pp. 127 and 350; vol. ii. pp. 40 and 350.

As to the traces of fire at Khorsabad, see BOTTA, _Monument de Ninive_, vol. v. p. 54.

[193] LAYARD, _Nineveh_, vol. ii. pp. 256-264.

[194] LOFTUS, _Travels and Researches_, pp. 181-183.

[195] This accumulation has sometimes reached a height of about 24 feet.

PLACE, _Ninive_, vol. i. p. 294.

[196] PLACE, _Ninive_, vol. i. pp. 293-294.

[197] E. FLANDIN, _Voyage archeologique a Ninive. 1. L'Architecture assyrienne. 2. La Sculpture assyrienne_ (_Revue des Deux-Mondes_, June 15 and July 1, 1845).

[198] For all that concerns this artist, one of the most skilful draughtsmen of our time, see the biographical notice of M. de Girardot:--_Felix Thomas, grand Prix de Rome Architecte, Peintre, Graveur, Sculpteur_ (Nantes, 1875, 8vo.).

[199] PLACE, _Ninive_, vol. i. pp. 249-269.

[200] PLACE, _Ninive_, vol. i. pp. 254-255.

[201] _Ibid._ p. 246.

[202] PLACE, _Ninive_, vol. i. p. 264.

[203] _Ibid._ p. 265. RICH made similar observations at Bagdad. He noticed that the masons could mount on the vault a few minutes after each course was completed (_Narrative of a Journey to the Site of Babylon_).

[204] M. A. CHOISY, well known by his Essays on _L'Art de batir chez les Romains_, shows that the same method was constantly used by the Byzantine architects. See his _Note sur la Construction des Voutes sans cintrage pendant la Periode byzantine_ (_Annales des Ponts et Chausees_, 1876, second period, vol. xii.). See also Mr. FERGUSSON'S account of the erection of a huge stone dome without centering of any kind, by an illiterate Maltese builder, at Mousta, near Valetta (_Handbook of Architecture_, Second Edition, vol. iv. p. 34).--ED.

[205] STRABO, xvi. i. 5, Hoi oikoi kamarotoi pantes dia ten axulian.

[206] For a description of these buildings see FLANDIN and COSTE, _Voyage en Perse, Perse ancienne, Text_, pp. 24-27, and 41-43 (6 vols. folio, no date. The voyage in question took place in 1841 and 1842).

[207] Brick played, at least, by far the most important part in their construction. The domes and arcades were of well-burnt brick; the straight walls were often built of broken stone, when it was to be had in the neighbourhood. At Ctesiphon, on the other hand, the great building known as the _Takht-i-Khosrou_ is entirely of brick.

[208] See M. AUGUSTE CHOISY'S _Note sur la Construction des Voutes_, &c. p.

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