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particularly calling his attention to the mound of Nimroud, which, however, he declined to explore on account of its distance from Mosul and its inconvenient position. I was soon called away from the Turkish capital to the provinces; and for some months numerous occupations prevented me turning my attention to the ruins and antiquities of Assyria. In the meanwhile M. Botta, not discouraged by the want of success which had attended his first essay, continued his excavations in the mound of Kouyunjik; and to him is due the honour of having found the first Assyrian monument. This remarkable discovery owed its origin to the following circumstances. The small party employed by M. Botta were at work on Kouyunjik, when a peasant from a distant village chanced to visit the spot. Seeing that every fragment of brick and alabaster uncovered by the workmen was carefully preserved, he asked the reason of this, to him, strange proceeding. On being informed that they were in search of sculptured stones, he advised them to try the mound on which his village was built, and in which, he declared, many such things as they wanted had been exposed on digging the foundations of new houses. M. Botta, having been frequently deceived by similar stories, was not at first inclined to follow the peasant's advice, but subsequently sent an agent and one or two workmen to the place. After a little opposition from the inhabitants, they were permitted to sink a well in the mound; and at a small distance from the surface they came to the top of a wall which, on digging deeper, they found to be lined with sculptured slabs of gypsum. M. Botta, on receiving information of this discovery, went at once to the village, which was called Rhorsabad. Directing a wider trench to be formed, and to be carried in the direction of the wall, he soon found that he had entered a chamber, connected with others, and surrounded by slabs of gypsum covered with sculptured representations of battles, sieges, and similar events. His wonder may easily be imagined. A new history had been suddenly opened to him— the records of an unknown people were before him. He was equally at a loss to account for the age and the nature of the monument. The style of art of the sculptures, the dresses of the figures, the mythic forms on the walls, were all new to him, and afforded no clue to the epoch of the erection of the edifice, or to the people who were its founders. Numerous inscriptions, accompanying the bas-reliefs, evidently contained the explanation of the events thus recorded in sculpture, and being in the cuneiform, or arrow-headed, character, proved that the building belonged to an age preceding the conquests of Alexander; for it is generally admitted that after the subjugation of the west of Asia by the Macedonians, the cuneiform writing ceased to be employed. It was evident that the monument appertained to a very ancient and very civilised people; and it was natural from its position to refer it to the inhabitants of Nineveh, a city, which, although it could not have occupied a site so distant from the Tigris, must have been in the vicinity of these ruins. M. Botta had discovered an Assyrian edifice, the first, probably, which had been exposed to the view of man since the fall of the Assyrian empire. M. Botta was not long in perceiving that the building which had been thus partly excavated, unfortunately owed its destruction to fire; and that the gypsum slabs, reduced to lime, were rapidly falling to pieces on exposure to the air. No precaution could arrest this rapid decay; and it was to be feared that this wonderful monument had only been uncovered to complete its ruin. The records of victories and triumphs, which had long attested the power and swelled the pride of the Assyrian kings, and had resisted the ravages of ages, were now passing away for ever. They could scarcely be held together until an inexperienced pencil could secure an imperfect evidence of their former existence. Almost all that was first discovered thus speedily disappeared; and the same fate has befallen nearly every thing subsequently found at Khorsabad. A regret is almost felt that so precious a memorial of a great nation should have been exposed to destruction; but as far as the object of the monument is concerned, the intention of its founders will
be amply fulfilled, and the records of their might will be more widely spread, and more effectually preserved, by modern art, than the most exalted ambition could have contemplated.
This remarkable discovery having been communicated by M. Botta, through M. Mohl, to the French Academy of Fine Arts, that body lost no time in applying to the Minister of Public Instruction for means to carry on the researches. The recommendation was attended to with that readiness and munificence which almost invariably distinguish the French Government in undertakings of this nature. Ample funds for excavations were at once assigned to M. Botta, and an artist of acknowledged skill was placed under his orders to draw such objects as could not be removed. The work was carried on with activity and success, and by the beginning of 1845, the monument had been completely uncovered. M. Botta did not extend his researches beyond Khorsabad; but, having secured many fine specimens of Assyrian sculpture for his country, he returned to Europe with a rich collection of inscriptions, the most important result of his discovery.
The success of M. Botta had increased my anxiety to explore the ruins of Assyria. It was evident that Khorsabad could not stand alone. It did not represent ancient Nineveh, nor did it afford us any additional evidence as to the site of that city. If the edifice discovered had been one of its palaces, surely other buildings of a vaster and more magnificent character must exist nearer the seat of government, on the banks of the river Tigris. It was true that M. Botta had labored unsuccessfully for above three months in the great mound opposite Mosul, which was usually identified with the Assyrian capital; but that mound much exceeded in extent any other known ruin ; and it was possible that in the part hitherto explored the traces of the buildings which it once contained were as completely lost as they were in many parts of the mound of Khorsabad. My thoughts still went back to Nimroud, and to the traditions which attached to it. I spoke to others, but received little encouragement. At last, in the autumn of 1845, Sir Stratford Canning offered to incur, for a limited period, the ex
pense of excavations in Assyria, in the hope that, should success attend the attempt, means would be found to carry it out on an adequate scale. It was now in my power to prosecute a work which I had so long desired to undertake; and the reader will not, I trust, be disinclined to join with me in feelings of gratitude towards one who, whilst he has maintained so successfully the honor and interests of England by his high character and eminent abilities, has acquired for his country so many great monuments of ancient civilisation and art.” It is to Sir Stratford Canning we are mainly indebted for the collection of Assyrian antiquities with which the British Museum has been enriched; without his liberality and public spirit the treasures of Nimroud would have been reserved for the enterprise of those who have appreciated the value and importance of the discoveries at Khorsabad. It was deemed prudent that I should leave Constantinople without acquainting any one with the object of my journey. I was furnished with the usual documents given to travellers when recommended by the Embassy, and with letters of introduction to the authorities at Mosul and in the neighborhood. My preparations were soon completed, and I started from Constantinople by steamer to Samsoun in the middle of October. Anxious to reach the end of my journey, I crossed the mountains of Pontus and the great steppes of the Usun Yilak as fast as post-horses could carry me, descended the high lands into the Valley of the Tigris, galloped over the vast plains of Assyria, and reached Mosul in twelve days. * I need scarcely remind the reader that it is to Sir S. Canning we owe the marbles of Halicarnassus now in the British Museum. The difficulties which stood in the way of the acquisition of these valuable relics, and the skill which was required to obtain them, are not generally known. I can testify to the efforts and labor which were necessary for nearly three years before the repugnance of the Ottoman government could be overcome, and permission obtained to extract the sculptures from the walls of a castle, which was more jealously guarded than any similar edifice in the empire. Their removal, notwithstanding the almost insurmountable difficulties raised by the authorities and inhabitants of Budroon, was most successfully effected
by Mr. Alison. The Elgin marbles, and all other remains from Turkey or Greece now in Europe, were obtained with comparative ease.
MOHAMMED PASHA. — HIS CRUELTIES. — THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY. START FOR NIMROUD. — AN ARAB FAMILY. – COMMENCE EXCAVATIONS. DISCOVERY OF A CHAMBER. — OF INSCRIPTIONS. — OF IVORY ORNAMENTS. — RETURN TO MOSUL. – CONDUCT OF THE PASHA. – EXCAVATIONS COMMENCED AMONGST VARIOUS RUINS. – RETURN TO NIMROUD. — FURTHER DISCOVERIES. - SELAMIYAH. – DISCOVERY OF SCULPTURES.. — DESCRIPTION OF BAS-RELIEFS. — INTERRUPTED BY THE PASHA. – FURTHER DISCOVERY OF SCULPTURES. – DEPOSITION OF THE PASHA. - DEPARTURE FOR BAGHDAD.
My first step on reaching Mosul was to present my letters to Mohammed Pasha, the governor of the province. Being a native of Candia, he was usually known as Keritli Oglu (the son of the Cretan), to distinguish him from his celebrated predecessor of the same name. The appearance of his Excellency was not prepossessing, but it matched his temper and conduct. Nature had placed hypocrisy beyond his reach. He had one eye and one ear; he was short and fat, deeply marked by the small-pox, uncouth in gestures and harsh in voice. His fame had reached the seat of his government before him. On the road he had revived many good old customs and impositions, which the reforming spirit of the age had suffered to fall into decay. He particularly insisted on dish-parasi" ; or a compensation in money, levied upon all villages in which a man of such rank is entertained, for the wear and tear of his teeth in masticating the food he condescends to receive from the inhabitants. On entering Mosul, he had induced several of the principal Aghas, who had fled from the town on his approach, to
* Literally, “tooth-money.”