صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

6. Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.' So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh : and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly.” Another lesson, not of judgment, but of mercy follows; and God gives utterance to those most remarkable words, in which he sets forth his care for

us, because of our creation by his hand, and extends merciful loving-kindness, to the helpless and the dumb. “Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night. And should not I spara Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"

But though the ancient Nimroud be not identified with the scene of the old prophet's warnings, and of the singular example of national repentance, it is, nevertheless, undoubtedly, a contemporaneous city of the same Assyrian kingdom. Notwithstanding the extreme difficulty of rendering the inscriptions of Nimroud and Khorsabad available for the illustration of history, owing to the practice which the Assyrians followed of distinguishing their proper names by the sense, rather than by the sound; so that the form of a name could be varied ad libitum, by the employment of synonyms, expressed either symbolically or phonetically. Yet some important results have already followed to the historian from the researches of Major Rawlinson. A further source of confusion arises from the multiplicity of names attaching to the different divinities, any one of which might be employed in forming a king's name, without regard to phonetic uniformity. The investigation is thus cumbered with many difficulties which did not attach to the study of the inscriptions of Egypt, after the discovery of the key to their alphabet and language. The general uniformity of the hieroglyphic series of royal cartouches, and the possi. bility of identifying many of them with the sovereigns recorded by Manetho, gives a precision and definiteness to the recent labours of hieroglyphic students, which can hardly be hoped for in the present early stage of the investigation into these newly discovered Assyrian inscriptions. Still, Major Rawlinson, has so far mastered the records of the Nimroud marbles, as to feel confident in affirming that the Nimroud kings were undoubtedly the most ancient of whom auy records have yet been discovered on the Tigris or Euphrates. Six of these kings who followed in a line of direct descent are thus enumerated, they were :—Hevenk I. a name suggested by him to be the same as the Evechius of Alexander Polyhister, whom Syncellus identified with Nimrod; Altibar; Asser-adanpal or Sardanapalus ; Temen-bar; Husi-hem; and Hevenk II. An earlier monarch, whom Major Rawlinson distinguished as Temen-bar I., and whom he conjectures to be the father of Hevenk I., he believes will prove to have been the original founder of the city of Halah, or Nimrud.

[ocr errors]

Many of the most remarkable discoveries of Dr. Lay ard were made in what he has styled the north-west palace, and it was there that the gigantic head was ex.. posed to view, so graphically depicted in one of the illus trations to his interesting work, with the wondering Arabs grouped around it in wondering amazement. “I rode," says the traveller, “to the encampment of Sheikh Abdur-rahman, and was returning to the mound, when I saw two Arabs of his tribe urging their mares to the top of their speed. On approaching me they stopped. 'Hasten, O Bey,' exclaimed one of them—hasten to the diggers, for they have found Nimrod himself. Wallah, it is wonderful, but it is true! we have seen him with our eyes. There is no God but God;' and both joining in this pious exclamation, they galloped off, without further words, in the direction of their tents.

“On reaching the ruins I descended into the new trench, and found the workmen, who had already seen me, as I approached, stand near a heap of baskets and cloaks. Whilst Awad advanced and asked for a present to celebrate the occasion, the Arabs withdrew the screen they had hastily constructed, and disclosed an enormous human head sculptured in full out of the alabaster of the country. They had uncovered the upper part of a figure, the remainder of which was still buried in the carth. I saw at once that the head must belong to a winged lion or bull, similar to those of Khorsabad and Persepolis. It was in admirable preservation. The expression was calm, yet majestic, and the outline of the features showed a freedom and knowledge of art, scarcely to be looked for in the works of so remote a period. The cap had three horns, and, unlike that of the humanheaded bulls hitherto found in Assyria, was rounded and without ornament at the top.

I was not surprised that the Arabs had been amazed and terrified at this apparition. It required no stretch of imagination to conjure up the most strange fancies. This gigantic head, blanched with age, thus rising from the bowels of the earth, might well have belonged to one of those fearful beings which are pictured in the traditions of the country, as appearing to mortals, slowly ascending from the regions below. One of the workmen on catching the first glimpse of the monster, had thrown down his basket and had run off towards Mosul as fast as his legs could carry him. I learnt this with regret as I anticipated the consequences.

Whilst I was superintending the removal of the earth, which still clung to the sculpture, and giving directions for the continuation of the work, a noise of horsemen was heard, and presently Abd-ur-rahman, followed by half his tribe, appeared on the edge of the trench. As soon as the two Arabs had reached the tents, and published the wonders they had seen, every one mounted his mare and rode to the mound to satisfy himself of the truth of these inconceivable reports. When they beheld the head they all cried together, “There is no God but God, and Mahommed is his Prophet! It was some time before the Sheikh could be prevailed upon to descend into the pit, and convince himself that the image he saw was of stone. “This is not the work of men's hands, exclaimed he, 'but of those infidel giants of whom the Prophet, peace be with him! has said, that they were higher than the tallest date tree; this is one of the idols which Noah, peace be with him ! cursed before the flood.' In this opinion, the result of a careful examination, all the bystanders concurred."

The report of the discovery filled the neighbouring town of Mosul with commotion. The Cadi made this a new occcasion for throwing impediments in the way of Dr. Layard, and the explorations were for some time arrested. By judicious management, however, these obstacles were overcome, and it was from the chambers of

[ocr errors]

rated;

this palace that many of the most interesting Bas-reliefs and inscriptions now in the British Museum, were brought. The latter were made the subject of special investigation by Major Rawlinson, in his communications to the Royal Asiatic Society. A brief account was given by him of Sardanapalus, the builder of the north-west palace, and the earliest Assyrian king—as far as we yet know—whose inscriptions have coine down to us. He was shown by nim to be the warlike Sardanapalus, whose tomb was described by Amyntas at the gate of the Assyrian capital, and whom Callisthenes took care to distinguish from the better known voluptuary of historical romance. Portions of the dedicatory inscription, which is repeated above a hundred times upon his palace, were also read and explained. The gods whom he worshipped-Assarac and Beltis, the shining Bar, Ani, and Dagon, were duly enume

and he read a special note on the subject of Assarac, the head of the Assyrian Pantheon, showing him to be the same as the Biblical Nisroch, and comparing him with the Chronos of the Greeks. A list was also given of the provinces tributary to Assyria at the period of the building of this palace by Sardanapalus, comprising many districts of Syria and Asia Minor, the country upon the Tigris, Armenia, the lands watered by the two Zabs, and the lower regions, as far as the shores of the Persian Gulf.

After some further observations on the extent and power of Assyria under Sardanapalus, Major Rawlinson proceeded to investigate the annals of Temen-bar II., who had commemorated his wars upon the singularly interesting black obelisk, now in the British Museum, upon the two large bulls in the centre palace of Nimrud, and also upon the sitting figure discovered at Kileh Shergat, The obelisk inscription commences, according to his reading, with an invocation to the Assyrian gods, among whom the following names can be identified with some

« السابقةمتابعة »