« ElőzőTovább »
The lower bas-relief on the same slab represented the siege of a castle, or walled city. To the left were two warriors, armed with a short sword and circular shield, and dressed in a tunic, edged by a fringe of tassels, and confined at the waist by a broad girdle. Each carried a quiver at his back, and a bow on his left arm. They wore the pointed helmets before described. The foremost warrior was ascending a ladder placed against the castle. Three turrets, with angular battlements, rose above walls similarly ornamented. In the first turret were two warriors, one in the act of discharging an arrow, the other raising a shield and casting a stone at the assailants, from whom the besieged were distinguished by their head-dress, a simple fillet binding the hair above the temples. The second turret was occupied by a slinger preparing his sling. In the interval between this turret and the third, and over an arched gateway, was a female figure, known by long hair descending upon her shoulders in ringlets. Her right hand was raised as if in the act of asking for mercy. In the third turret were two more of the besieged, the first discharging an arrow, the second elevating his shield and endeavoring with a torch to burn an instrument resembling a catapult, which had been brought up to the wall by an inclined plane apparently built of boughs of trees and rubbish. These figures were out of all proportion when compared with the size of the building. A warrior with a pointed helmet, bending on one knee, and holding a torch in his right hand, was setting fire to the gate of the castle, whilst another in full armour was forcing stones from the walls with an instrument, probably of iron, resembling a blunt spear. Between them was a wounded man falling headlong from the battlements.
The adjoining slab, which was angular in shape and formed a corner, was much injured, the greater part having been cut away to reduce it to convenient dimensions. The upper part, or the lower as reversed, was occupied by two warriors; the foremost in a pointed helmet, riding on one horse and leading a second; the other, without helmet, standing in a chariot, and holding the reins loosely in his hands. The horses had been destroyed, and the marks of the chisel were visible on many parts of the slab, the sculpture having been in some places carefully defaced. The lower bas-relief represented the battlements and towers of a castle. A woman stood on the walls tearing her hair in token of grief. Beneath, by the side of a stream, denoted by numerous undulating lines, crouched a fisherman drawing a fish from the water. This slab had been exposed to fire like that adjoining, and had sustained too much injury to be removed.
As I was meditating in the evening over my discovery, Daoud Agha entered, and seating himself near me, delivered a long speech, to the effect, that he was a servant of the Pasha, who was again the slave of the Sultan; and that servants were bound to obey the commands of their master, however disagreeable and unjust they might be. I saw at once to what this exordium was about to lead, and was prepared for the announcement, that he had received orders from Mosul to stop the excavations by threatening those who were inclined to work for me. On the following morning, therefore, I rode to the town, and waited upon his Excellency. He pretended to be taken by surprise, disclaimed having given any such orders, and directed his secretary to write at once to the commander of the irregular troops, who was to give me every assistance rather than throw impediments in my way. He promised to let me have the letter in the afternoon before I returned to Selamiyah; but an officer came to me soon after, and stated that as the Pasha was unwilling to detain me he would forward it during the night. I rode back to the village, and acquainted Daoud Agha with the result of my visit. About midnight, however, he returned to me, and declared that a horseman had just brought him more stringent orders than any he had yet received, and that on no account was he to permit me to carry on the excavation.
Surprised at this inconsistency, I returned to Mosul early next day, and again called upon the Pasha. “It was with deep regret,” said he, “I learnt, after your departure yesterday, that the mound in which you are digging had been used as a burying-ground by Mussulmans, and was covered with their graves; now you are aware that by the law it is forbidden to disturb a tomb, and the Cadi and Mufti have already made representations to me on the subject.” “In the first place," replied I, “ being pretty well acquainted with the mound, I can state that no graves have been disturbed ; in the second, after the wise and firm 'politica' which your Excellency exhibited at Siwas, gravestones would present no difficulty. Please God, the Cadi and Mufti have profited by the lesson which your Excellency gave to the ill-mannered Ulema of that city.” “In Siwas,” returned he, immediately understanding my meaning, “I had Mussulmans to deal with, and there was tanzimat *, but here we have only Kurds and Arabs, and Wallah! they are beasts. No, I cannot allow you to proceed; you are my dearest and most intimate friend ; if anything happens to you, what grief should I not suffer; your life is more valuable than old stones ; besides, the responsibility would fall upon my head.” Finding that the Pasha had resolved to interrupt my proceedings, I pretended to acquiesce in his answer, and requested that a Cawass of his own might be sent with me to Nimroud, as I wished to draw the sculptures and copy the inscriptions which had already been uncovered. To this he consented, and ordered an officer to accompany me.
On my return to Selamiyah there was little difficulty in inducing the Pasha's Cawass to permit a few workmen to guard the sculptures during the day; and as Daoud Agha considered that this functionary's presence relieved him from any further responsibility, he no longer interfered with me. Wishing to ascertain the existence of the graves, and also to draw one of the bas-reliefs, which had been uncovered, I rode to the ruins on the following morning, accompanied by the Hytas and their chief, who were going their usual rounds in search of plundering Arabs. Daoud Agha confessed to me on our way that he had received orders to make graves on the mound, and that his troops had been employed for two nights in bringing stones from distant villages for that purpose. * “We have destroyed more real tombs of the true Believers," said he, “in making sham ones, than you could have defiled between the Zab and Selamiyah. We have killed our horses and ourselves in carrying those accursed stones." A steady rain setting in, I left the horsemen, and returned to the
* The reformed system, introduced into most provinces of Turkey, had not yet been extended to Mosul and Baghdad.
In the evening Daoud Agha brought back with him a prisoner and two of his followers severely wounded. He had fallen in with a party of horsemen under Sheikh Abd-ur-rahman of the Abou-Salman Arabs, whose object in crossing the Zab had been to plunder me as I worked at the mound. After a short engagement, the Arabs were compelled to recross the river.
I continued to employ a few men to open trenches by way of experiment, and was not long in finding other sculptures. Near the western edge of the mound were discovered the lower part of several colossal figures, at the foot of the S. E. corner a crouching lion, rudely carved in black basalt, and in the centre a pair of gigantic winged bulls, the head and half of the wings of which had been destroyed. On the backs of the slabs, on which the bulls were sculptured in high relief, were inscriptions in the arrow-headed character. The remains of two small winged lions forming the entrance into a chamber, and a basrelief nine feet in height, representing a human figure raising the right hand, and carrying a branch with three flowers resembling the poppy, in the left, were also uncovered. But these afforded no clue to the nature of the buildings, of which only detached and unconnected walls had as yet been exposed.
The experiment had now been fairly made; there was no longer any doubt of the existence not only of sculptures and inscriptions, but even of large edifices in the interior of the mound of Nimroud. I lost no time, therefore, in acquainting Sir Stratford Canning with my discovery, and in urging the necessity of a Firman, or order from the Porte, which would prevent any future interference on the part of the authorities, or the inhabitants of the country.
* In Arabia, the graves are merely marked by large stones placed upright at the head and feet, and in a heap over the body.
It was now nearly Christmas, and as it was desirable to remove from the mound the tombs, which had been made by the Pasha's orders, and others, more genuine, which had since been found, I came to an understanding on the subject with Daoud Agha. I covered over the sculptures brought to light, and withdrew altogether from Nimroud, leaving an agent at Selamiyah.
On entering Mosul on the morning of the 18th of December, I found the whole population in a ferment of joy. A Tatar had that morning brought from Constantinople the welcome news that the Porte, at length alive to the wretched condition of the province, and to the misery of the inhabitants, had disgraced the governor, and had named Ismail Pasha, a young Major-General of the new school, to carry on affairs until Hafiz Pasha, who had been appointed to succeed Keritli Oglu, could reach his government.
Ismail Pasha, who had been for some time in command of the troops at Diarbekir, had gained a great reputation for justice · amongst the Mussulmans, and for tolerance amongst the Christians. Consequently his appointment had given much satisfaction to the people of Mosul, who were prepared to receive him with a demonstration. However, he slipped into the town during the night, some time before he had been expected. On the following morning a change had taken place at the Palace, and Mohammed Pasha, with his followers, were reduced to extremities. The dragoman of the Consulate, who had business to transact with the late Governor, found him sitting in a dilapidated chamber, through which the rain penetrated without hindrance. “Thus it is,” said he, “with God's creatures.