« ElőzőTovább »
were bearded figures, wearing high pointed mitres, and had probably been placed, for some religious purpose, beneath the foundations of the building. Objects somewhat similar, and in the same material, were discovered at Khorsabad, under the pavement slabs, between the great bulls.
Near the southern entrance to the great hall was found, amidst a mass of charred wood and charcoal, and beneath a fallen slab, part of a beam in good preservation, apparently of mulberry wood.
It may be inferred that a very long interval intervened between the time of the construction of the N.W. and of the S. W. palaces. A considerable period must have elapsed before a monarch destroyed the monuments of his predecessors to raise out of the materials a new habitation for himself or his divinities. It is highly probable that some great change had taken place before such an event could have happened,— that a new dynasty of kings had ejected the older family; and that, as conquerors, they had introduced a new element into the nation. There are remarkable differences in the costume of the king, the forms of the chariots, the trappings of the horses, and the arms and armour of the warriors, which further tend to prove that some such change had taken place in Assyria between the destruction of the N.W. palace at Nimroud and the erection of that at Khorsabad. The state of art, as shown in the treatment of the sculptures, in their forms and in their ornaments, differed materially during the two periods, and points to a very great change in manners, the state of civilisation, and religion.
The south-east corner of the mound, which was considerably above the level of any other part, appears to have been the principal burying place of those who occupied the country after the destruction of the Assyrian palaces. Besides the two tombs already described, many others were subsequently discovered there. The sarcophagi were mostly of the same shape, that of a dish-cover; but there were other tombs constructed of bricks well fitted together and covered by a slab, similar to those above the ruins in the centre of the mound. In nearly all were earthen vases, copper and silver ornaments, and small alabaster bottles. The skeletons, as soon as uncovered, crumbled to pieces, although entire when first exposed, and one skull alone has been preserved. Scattered amongst these tombs were vases of all sizes, lamps, and small objects of pottery — some uninjured, others broken into fragments.*
Removing the tombs, I discovered beneath them the remains of a building, and explored seven chambers. No sculptures or inscriptions were found in them; the lower part of the walls being panelled with plain slabs of limestone, three feet seven inches high and from two to three feet wide, and the upper being built of sun-dried bricks, covered by a thick coat of white plaster.
In the rubbish, near the bottom of the chambers, were found several small objects; amongst them a female head in white alabaster, now in the British Museum.
It only remains for me to mention a singular discovery on the eastern face of the mound, near its northern extremity. A trench having been opened from the outer slope, the workmen came upon a small vaulted chamber, about ten feet high, and the same in width, fifteen feet below the level of the mound, and in the centre of a wall of sun-dried bricks, nearly fifty feet thick. The arch was built of baked bricks. The chamber was filled with rubbish, the greater part of which was a kind of slag, and the bricks forming the vault and walls were almost vitrified, evidently from exposure to very intense heat. The chamber had thus the appearance of a large furnace for making glass or fusing metal. I am unable to account for its use, as there was no access to it, as far as I could ascertain from any side.
Much of course remained to be explored in the ruins; but with the limited means at my disposal I was unable to pursue my researches to the extent that I could have wished. If, after carrying a trench to a reasonable depth and distance, no
* Many of the small objects are in the British Museum.
remains of sculpture or inscription were discovered, I abandoned it and renewed the experiment elsewhere. I could thus ascertain, whether any very extensive edifice was still standing. There were too many tangible objects in view to warrant an outlay in excavations promising no immediate results; and a great part of the mound of Nimroud was left to be explored, when the ruins of Assyria should be further examined.
EXCAVATIONS AT KALAH SHERGHAT. DEPARTURE FOR THE RUINS. -~
THE BITUMEN PITS. — Abd'rubbou. MY RECEPTION. — DISCOVERY OP A
SITTING FIGURE — ARAB ENCAMPMENT. ARAB LIFE. — EXCAVATIONS
IN THE MOUND. DISCOVERY OF TOMBS. RETURN TO NIMROUD.
I Had long wished to excavate in the mounds of Kalah Sherghat, which rivalled in extent those of Nimroud and Kouyunjik. An Arab, from the Shammar Bedouins, would occasionally spend a night amongst my workmen, and entertain them with accounts of idols and sculptured figures of giants, which had long been the cause of wonder and awe to the wandering tribes, who pitch their tents near the place. On my first visit, I had searched in vain for such remains ; but the Arabs, who are accustomed to seek for pasture during the spring in the neighbourhood, persisted in their assertions, and offered to show me where these strange statues, carved, it was said, in black stone, were to be found. Scarcely a ruin in Mesopotamia is without its wondrous tale of apparitions and Frank idols, and I concluded that these sculptures only existed in the fertile imagination of the Arabs. As the vicinity of Kalah Sherghat is notoriously dangerous, being a place of rendezvous for plundering parties of the Shammar, Aneyza, and Obeid Bedouins, I had deferred a visit to the spot, until I could remain there for a short time under the protection of some powerful tribe. This safeguard was also absolutely necessary in the event of my sending workmen to excavate.
There being no pasture in the neighborhood of Mosul this year on account of the want of rain, the three great divisions of the Jebour Arabs sought, the jungles on the banks of the Tigris. Abd'rubbou with his tribe descended the river, and first pitching his tents at Senidij, near the confluence of the Tigris and the Zab, subsequently moved towards Kalah Sherghat. I thought this a favorable time for excavating in the great mound; and the Sheikh having promised to supply me with Arabs for the work, and with guards for their defence, I sent Mansour, one of my superintendents, to the spot. I followed some days afterwards, accompanied by Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, the Bairakdar, and several well-armed men, chosen from amongst the Jebours who were employed at Nimroud.
We crossed the Tigris on a small raft, — our horses having to swim the river. Striking into the desert by the Wadi Jehainah, we rode through a tract of land, at this time of year usually covered with vegetation; but then, from the drought, a barren waste. During some hours' ride we scarcely saw any human being, except a solitary shepherd in the distance, driving before him his half-famished flocks. We reached at sunset a small encampment of Jebours. The tents were pitched in the midst of a cluster of high reeds on the banks of the Tigris, and nearly opposite to the tomb of Sultan Abd-Allah. They were so well concealed, that it required the experienced eye of a Bedouin to detect them* by the thin smoke rising above the thicket. The cattle and sheep found scanty pasturage in a marsh formed by the river. The Arabs were as poor and miserable as their beasts ; they received us, however, with hospitality, and killed a very lean lamb for our entertainment.
Near the encampment was a quadrangle, resembling on a small scale the great enclosures of Nimroud and Kouyunjik, formed by low mounds, and evidently marking the site of an Assyrian town or fort. I searched for some time, but without success, for fragments of pottery or brick inscribed with cuneiform characters.
On the following day we passed the bitumen pits, or the "Kiyara," as they are called by the Arabs. They cover a con
* In the desert, the vicinity of an encampment is generally marked by some sign well known to the members of the tribe. It would otherwise be very difficult to discover the tents, pitched, as they usually are, in some hollow or ravine to conceal them from hostile plundering parties.