Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

whole bricks with inscriptions on them. Interspersed are innumerable fragments of pottery, brick, bitumen, pebbles, vitrified brick or scoria, and even shells, bits of glass, and mother of pearl. The northern face of the Mujelibé (fig. 20.) contains a niche of the height of a man, at the back whereof a low aperture leads to a small cavity, whence a passage branches off to the right till it is lost - - - in the rubbish. It is Fig. x0. xuattitax race or the nig.jpl.nhs. called by the natives the serdaub or cellar, and Mr. Rich was informed that four years previous to his survey, a quantity of marble was taken out from it, and a coffin of mulberry wood, in which was contained a human body enclosed in a tight wrapper, and apparently partially covered with bitumen, which crumbled into dust on exposure to the air. About this spot Mr. R. also excavated and found a coffin containing a skeleton in high preservation, whose antiquity was placed beyond dispute by the attachment of a brass bird to the outside of the coffin, and inside an ornament of the same material, which had seemingly been suspended to some part of the skeleton. On the western side of the river there is not the slightest vestige of ruins excepting opposite the mass of Amran, where there are two small mounds of earth in existence. 40. The most stupendous and surprising mass of the ruins of ancient Babylon is situate in the desert, about six miles to the south-west of Hellah. It is too distant to be shown on the block plan above given. By the Arabs it is called Birs Nemroud; by the Jews, Nebuchadnezzar's Prison. Mr. Rich was the first traveller who gave any account of this ruin, of which fig. 21. is a representation; and the description following we shall present in Mr. Rich's own words. “The Birs Nemroud is a mound of an oblong figure, the total circumference of which is 762 yards. At the eastern side it is cloven by a deep furrow, and is not more than fifty or sixty feet high ; but at the western it rises in a conical figure to the elevation of 198 ft., and on its summit is a solid pile of brick 37 ft. high by 28 in o breadth, diminishing in thickness to the top, which is broken and irregular, and rent by a large fissure extending through a third of its height. It is perforated by small square holes disposed in rhomboids. The fine burnt bricks of which it is built have - inscriptions on them; and so admirable is

Fig. 21. Birts re-inaun. the cement, which appears to be lime mortar, that, though the layers are so close together that it is difficult to discern what substance is between them, it is nearly impossible to extract one of the bricks whole. The other parts of the summit of the hill are occupied by immense fragments of brickwork, of no determinate figure, tumbled together and converted into solid vitrified masses, as if they had undergone the action of the fiercest fire or been blown up with gunpowder, the layers of the bricks being perfectly discernible,_a curious fact, and one for which I am utterly incapable of accounting. These, incredible as it may seem, are actually the ruins spoken of by Pére Emanuel (See D'Anrille, sur TEuphrate et le Tigre), who takes no sort of notice of the prodigious mound on which they are elevated.” The mound is a majestic ruin, and of a people whose powers were not lost, if the hypothesis brought before the reader in the previous section on Celtic and Druidical architecture be founded on the basis of truth, but shown afterwards, on their separation from the parent stock, in Abury, Stonehenge, Carnac, and many other places. Ruins to a considerable extent exist round the Birs Nemroud; but for our purpose it is not necessary to particularise them. The chance (for more the happiest conjecture would not warrant) of conclusively enabling the reader to come to a certain and definite notion of the venerable city, whereof it is our object to give him a faint idea, is far too indefinite to detain him and exhaust his patience. One circumstance, however, we must not omit; and again we shall use the words of the traveller to whom we are under so many obligations. They are, —“To these ruins I must add one, which, though not in the same direction, bears such strong characteristics of a Babylonian origin, that it would be improper to omit a description of it in this place. I mean Akerkouf, or, as it is more generally called, Nimrod's Tower; for the inhabitants of these parts are as fond of attributing every vestige of antiquity to Nimrod as those of Egypt are to Pharaoh. It is situate ten miles to the north-west of Bagdad, and is a thick mass of unburnt brickwork, of an irregular shape, rising out of a base of rubbish; there is a layer of reeds between every fifth or sixth (for the number is not regulated) layer of bricks. It is perforated with small square holes, as the brickwork at the Birs Nemroud; and about half way up on the east side is an aperture like a window; the layers of cement are very thin, which, considering it is mere mud, is an extraordinary circumstance. The height of the whole is 126 ft. ; diameter of the largest part, 100 ft. ; circumference of the foot of the brickwork above the rubbish, 300 ft. ; the remains of the tower contain 100,000 cubic feet. (Wide Ives's Trarels, p. 298.) To the east of it is a dependent mound, resembling those at the Birs and Al Hheimar.” 41. The inquiry (following Mr. Rich) now to be pursued is that of identifying some of the remains which have been described with the description which has been left of them. And, first, of the circuit of the city. The greatest circumference of the city, according to the authors of antiquity, was 480 stadia (supposed about 500 ft. each), the least 360. Strabo, who was on the spot when the walls were sufficiently perfect to judge of their extent, states their circuit at 385 stadia. It seems probable that within the walls there was a quantity of arable and pasture ground, to enable the population to resist a siege; and that, unlike modern cities, the buildings were distributed in groups over the area inclosed; for Xenophon reports that when Cyrus took Babylon (which event happened at night) the inhabitants of the opposite quarter of the town were not aware of it till the third part of the day; that is, three hours after sunrise. The accounts of the height of the walls all agree in the dimension of 50 cubits, which was their reduced height from 350 ft. by Darius Hystaspes, in order to render the town less defensible. The embankment of the river with walls, according to Diodorus 100 stadia in length, indicates very advanced engineering skill; but the most wonderful structure of the city was the tower, pyramid, or sepulchre of Belus, whose base, according to Strabo, was a stadium on each side. It stood in an enclosure of two miles and a half, and contained the temple in which divine honours were paid to the tutelary deity of Babylon. The main interest attached to the tower of Belus arises from a belief of its identity with the tower which we learn from Scripture (Gen. xi.) the descendants of Noah, with Belus at their head, constructed in the plains of Shinar. The two masses of ruins in which this tower must be sought, seem to be the Birs Nemroud, whose four sides are 2286 English feet in length; and the Mujelibé, whose circumference is 21 11 ft. Now, taking the stadium at 500 ft., the tower of Belus, according to the accounts, would be 2000 ft. in circumference; so that both the ruins agree, as nearly as possible, in the requisite dimensions, considering our uncertainty respecting the exact length of the stadium. Mr. Rich evidently inclines to the opinion that the Birs Nemroud is the ruin of this celebrated temple, though he allows “a very strong objection may be brought against the Birs Nemroud in the distance of its position from the extensive remains on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, which for its accommodation would oblige us to extend the measurement of each side of the square to nine miles, or adopt a plan which would totally exclude the Mujelibé, all the ruins above it, and most of those below: even in the former case, the Mujelibé and the Birs would be at opposite extremities of the town close to the walls, while we have every reason to believe that the tower of Belus occupied a central situation.” 42. The citadel or palace was surrounded by a wall whose total length was 60 stadia, within which was another of 40 stadia, whose inner face was ornamented with painting, — a practice (says Mr. Rich) among the Persians to this day. Within the last-named wall was a third, on which hunting subjects were painted. The old palace was on the opposite side of the river, the outer wall whereof was no larger than the inner wall of the new one. Above the palace or citadel were, according to Strabo, the hanging gardens, for which, in some respects, a site near the Mujelibé would sufficiently answer, were it not that the skeletons found there “embarrass almost any theory that may be formed on this extraordinary pile." 43. As yet, no traces have been found of the tunnel under the Euphrates, nor of the obelisk which Diodorus says was erected by Semiramis; it is not, however, impossible that the diligence and perseverance of future travellers may bring them to light. Rich believes that the number of buildings within the city bore no proportion to the extent of the walls, —a circumstance which has already been passingly noticed. He moreover thinks that the houses were, in general, small; and further, that the assertion of Herodotus, that it abounded in houses of two or three stories, argues that the majority consisted of only one. He well observes, “The peculiar climate of this district must have caused a similarity of habits and accommodation in all ages; and if, upon this principle, we take the present fashion of building as some example of the mode heretofore practised in Babylon, the houses that had more than one story must have consisted of the ground floor, or basse-cour, occupied by stables, magazines, and serdaubs or cellars, sunk a little below the ground, for the comfort of the inhabitants during the heat; above this a gallery with the lodging rooms opening into it; and over all the flat terrace for the people to sleep on during the summer." . In these observations we fully concur with the author, believing that climate and habits influence the arts of all nations.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

44. Vastness of dimension, rather than refined art, may be reasonably inferred of the Babylonian architecture; the sculptures which have been seen are those of a people not so advanced in art as the Egyptians. From the similarity of the arrow-headed characters on the bricks found about the ruins of Babylon to thbse which appear on the ruins of Persepolis, we may fairly conjecture a similarity of habits and taste between the people of the two cities; of the latter we have more perfect remains than of the former, of which we shall furnish our readers with some examples in the next section. In Asia, about the provinces of which we have spoken, must be sought the first notions of the art. There its wonders first appeared; there it first developed its power. Greater almost at its birth than ever afterwards, it seems all at once to have risen, as respects absolute grandeur, to the highest state of which it was there susceptible; and, degenerating successively under the hands of other people, we may reckon by the periods of its decay the epochs of its duration.

45. No trace of the arch has been found in the ruins either at the Kasr or in the passages at the Mujelibé. Massy piers, buttresses, and pilasters supplied the place of the column. The timber they used was that of the date tree, posts of which were used in their domestic architecture, round which, says Strabo, they twist reeds and apply a coat of paint to them. Thickness of wall was obtained by casing rubble work with fine brick, of which two sorts were made. The one was merely dried in the sun, the other burned in a kiln. The latter was 13 in. square and 3 in thick, with varieties for different situations in the walls. They are of various colours. The sun-dried is considerably larger than the kiln-dried. There is reason for believing that lime cement was more generally used than bitumen or clay; indeed, Niebuhr says that the bricks laid in bitumen were easily separated, but that where mortar had been employed no force could detach them from each other without breaking them in pieces.

SECT. IV.

Prits Froi.it a N AND Priusi. An Anchitecturup.

46. Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia, whereof the few ruins now remaining we are about to describe, was seated (lat. 30°40' N., long. 84° E.) in the great plain of Merdasht or Istakhr, one of the most fertile in the world, being watered in all directions by rivulets and artificial drains, which ultimately unite in the Bundemir, the ancient Araxes. The site of this city, destroyed two thousand years since, would, like Memphis, have scarcely left a vestige by which it could have been identified, but for the celebrated ruins of Chel-Minar (fig. 22.), which are believed to be the remains of that

[ocr errors]

ancient palace of the masters of Asia to which Alexander set fire in a moment of madness and debauch. The information we are about to give on this subject is obtained from De Bruyn, who examined the ruins with great attention in 1704, with some reference also to Niebuhr and Sir R. K. Porter, the latest traveller who has published any account of them. 47. The ruins are situated at the foot and to the west of the mountain Kulirag-met. On three sides the walls are remaining, the mountain to the east forming the other side

[graphic]

From north to south the extent is 600 paces (1425 ft.), and 390 (802 ft.) from west to east to the mountain on the south side, having no stairs on that side; average height about 18 ft. 7 in. On the north side it is 410 paces (926 ft.) from east to west, and the wall is 21 ft. high in some places. At the north-west corner of the wall, about 80 paces in extent westward, are some rocks before the principal staircase. On mounting the steps there is found a large platform 400 paces in extent towards the mountain. Along the wall on three

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

o staircase A (fig. 23.) is not placed in the * middle of the west " * side, but nearer to * the north. It has a - double flight, the distance between the flights at the bottom being 42 ft., and the width of them is 25ft. 7 in. The steps {} are 4 in. high; and § 14 in. wide. Fiftyfive of them remain on the north side, and fifty-three on the south ; and it is probable that some are buried by the ruins. The half - - spaces at the top of Fig. 23. ri-Ax or prons ripolts. the first flight are 51 ft. 4 in. wide. The upper flights are separated from the lower by a wall which runs through at the upper landing. The upper flights are in forty-eight steps, and are cut out of single blocks of the rock. The upper landing is seventy-five feet between the flights. 48. Forty-two feet from the landing, at B, are two large portals and two columns (originally four). The bottom of the first is covered with two blocks of stone, which fill two thirds of the space; the other third having been destroyed by time. The second portal is more covered by the earth than the first, by five feet. They are 22 ft. 4 in. deep, and 13 ft. 4. in. wide. On the interior side-faces of their piers, and nearly the whole length of them, are large figures of bulls, cut in bas-relief. The heads of these animals are entirely destroyed; and their breasts and fore feet project from the piers: the two of the first portal face to the staircase, and those of the other face towards the mountain. On the upper part of the piers there are some arrow-headed characters, too small to be made out from below. The remains of the first portal are 39 ft. high, and of the second 28 ft. The base of the piers is 5 ft. 2 in. high, and projects inwards; and the bases upon which the figures stand are 1 ft. 2 in. high. We may here observe that the figures on the further portal have the body and legs of a bull, an enormous pair of wings (fig. 24.) projecting from the shoulders, and the heads looking to the east show the faces of men. On the head is a cylindrical diadem, on both sides of which horns are clearly represented winding from the brows upwards to the front of the crown; the whole being surmounted with a sort of coronet, formed of a range of He leaves like the lotus, and bound with a fillet so carved like roses. The two columns (at Sir R. K. Porter's visit only one remained) are the most perfect among the ruins, and are 54 ft. high. At the distance of fifty-two feet southeastward from the second portico is a water--~~~~--- trough cut out of a single stone 20 ft. long and Fig. 24. viaume on a vortal. At venskrulls. 17 ft. 5 in. broad, and standing 3 ft. high from the ground. From hence to the northern wall of the platform is covered with fragments; and the remains of one column not channelled as the others are ; this is 12 ft. 4 in high

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

49. At one hundred and seventy-two feet from the portals, southward, is another staircase of two flights (lettered C), one west and the other east. On the top of the ramp of the steps are some foliages, and a lion tearing to pieces a bull, in bas-relief, and larger than nature. This staircase is half buried. The western flight has twenty-eight steps, and the other, where the ground is higher, has only eighteen. These steps are 17 ft. long, 3 in. high, and 14% in. wide. The wall of the landing is sculptured with three rows of figures, one above the other, and extending ninety-eight feet. The faces of these inner terrace walls are all decorated with bas-reliefs, of which fig. 25. is a specimen. On arriving at the top of this staircase, was found another large platform, paved with large blocks of stone; and at the distance of twenty-two feet two inches from the parapet of the landing, are the most northern columns (lettered D), originally twelve in number, whereof in Sir R. K. Porter's time only one remained. At seventy-one feet southward from these stood thirty-six columns more, at intervals of twenty-two feet two inches from each other, whereof only five now remain; the bases, however, of all the others are in their places, though most of them are much damaged. This group of columns is lettered E. To the east and west of the last-named group are two other groups of twelve each marked F and G, whereof five still remain in the eastern one, and four in the western one. The columns of the central group are fifty-five feet high ; and those of the other three groups are sixty feet in height. To the south of the three groups of columns is situate the most raised building on these ruins. On the east, towards the mountain, a large mass of ruins is visible (lettered H), consisting of portals, passages, windows, &c. The first are decorated with figures on the interior; and the whole plot on which they stand is 95 paces from east to west, and about 125 paces from north to south. The centre part of the plot is covered with fragments of columns and other stones; and in the interior part there seems to have been a group of seventy-six columns, whereof none are represented by Sir R. K. Porter, nor are they shown in either of Le Bruyn's views. The highest building as to level, marked I, is 118 ft. distant from the columns lettered G. Some foundations are visible in front of this building, to which there is not the slightest trace of a staircase. At fifty-three feet from the façade of it to the right is a staircase of double flight, marked K, where again bassi relievi are to be found, near which are the remains of some portals which Le Bruyn thinks were destroyed by an earthquake. The next ruin (L) is 54% ft. in extent, and has portals similar to those in other parts of the place. To its north, M exhibits uniform features, with windows, and what travellers have agreed to call niches, which are nothing more than square-headed recesses. Sculpture here again abounds, whereof we do not think a description necessary, as in fig. 25. a specimen of it has been given, sufficient to indicate its character. Behind this edifice is another, in some respects similar, except that it is thirty-eight feet longer. It is marked N on the plan. One hundred feet to the south of this last set of ruins (lettered O), Sir R. K. Porter seems to have found traces of columns, which, if we read Le Bruyn rightly, he does not mention. In this, the last-named traveller found a staircase leading to subterranean apartments, as he thought, but nothing of interest was discovered. The general dimensions of the building (P) extend about 160 ft. from north to south, and 190 ft. from east to west. It exhibits ten portals in ruins, besides other remains; and there are traces of thirty-six columns, in six ranks of six each. The spot is covered with fragments, under which have been traced conveyances for water. To the west of the last-named building was another entirely in ruins: to the east of it are visible the remains of a fine staircase, much resembling that first described, and which, therefore, we do not think it necessary to particularise, more than we do the numberless fragments scattered over the whole area, which was equal to nearly thirty English acres | The ruins at Q are of portals. At R and S are tombs cut in the rock, of curious form, but evidently, from their character, the work of those who constructed the enormous pile of building of which we have already inserted a representation. Between the leading forms of the portals of these ruins, or porticoes, as Le Bruyn calls them, and those of the structures of Egypt, there is a very striking resemblance. On comparison of the two, it is impossible not to be struck with the large crowning hollowed member, which seems to have been common to the edifices on the banks of the Nile and those on the plain of Merdasht. In both, this member, forming, as it were, an entablature, is ornamented with vertical ribs or leaves, and the large fillet above the hollow appears equally in each. In the walls of the Persepolitan remains, there is perhaps less real massiveness than in-those which were the works of the Egyptians; but the similarity of appearance between them points to the conjecture that, though neither might have been borrowed from the other, they are not many removes from one common parent. The an

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »