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A FORGOTTEN EMPIRE IN ASIA MINOR.
was a warm sunny morning towards the end of September when I left the little town of Nimphi under the protection of an escort of soldiers. Nimphi lies about twenty miles inland from Smyrna, at the foot of a lofty crag, the sides of which are hollowed into tombs. We rode up the steep, narrow street of the little town, and, leaving behind us the stately shell of a ruined Roman palace, turned eastward towards the plain of the Hermus where the kingdom of Lydia once grew up and became great. On our left was the huge mass of Mount Sipylus, the rounded form of its eastern shoulder descending abruptly into the plain below, while on our right rose a rugged line of hills, the furthermost spur of Tmolus, broken into ravines and dark with forests. Our path led along their slope, past bushes each of which had to be examined in advance to make sure that no brigand was hidden behind it, until, after a ride of some two or three hours, we forded the Kara-su, or Black Water, clambered up the bank on the other side, and, forcing our way through a thick undergrowth of shrubs, found ourselves in the gorge of the Karabel, the object of the morning's ride. The gorge is a narrow one, opening out on the north opposite the eastern shoulder of Sipylus, and leading on the south, by a rude and little-frequented track, into the plain of the Kayster and the once fertile district of Ephesus. On either side rises an almost precipitous cliff, covered with trees and bushes, and tenanted only by brigands, while a similar cliff shuts in the pass in front, and gives good reason to the Turkish name of the place, the Kara-bel, or Black Forest.
But this Black Forest conceals some of the most curious and interesting monuments in the world, monuments that take us back to a long-forgotten day, when as yet the Greeks were destitute of culture and art, when Gyges had not founded his dynasty hard by at Sardes, or Kræsus ruled over the Lydian empire. They have risen up from the dead, as it were, during the last two years to tell us of a power which had its seat far away on the banks of the Euphrates, but which carried its armies to the very shores of the Ægean Sea and helped the Phoenicians in communicating to the nations of the West the civilisation of Assyria and Babylon.
In the year 1839 the Rev. J. C. Renouard discovered, high up above the path on the eastern side of the valley, a carving in the rock. The stone has been hollowed out into a niche, within which stands the figure of a man, six feet high, with the Phrygian cap on the head, boots with turned-up ends on the feet, a quiver slung at the back, and a spear in the left hand. The whole carving is of a very marked and peculiar character, and the art to which it testifies must have had a long and independent development.
But, as we now know, it does not stand alone. Step by step,
region by region, we can trace it along the two high roads that traversed Asia Minor and met in the Lydian capital, the one running from the Halys through Phrygia, the other passing the Cilician Gates and the rugged mountains of Lykaonia. At a place called Ghiaur-Kalessi, the fortress of the infidel,' near the villages of Hoïadja and Kara-omerlu, about nine hours to the south-west of Angora, the ancient Ancyra, and upon the old line of road which led from Armenia to Lydia, M. Perrot has discovered an ancient fortress, and beside it a rock carved into the likeness of two men, nine feet in height, who reproduce even to the smallest details the art and peculiarities of the sculpture of Karabel. Here, too, each figure carries his spear and quiver, wears the same short tunic and Phrygian cap, is shod with the same curious kind of tip-tilted' boot, and has the same thick limbs and stunted growth. The walls of the fortress also that stand hard by have a style of architecture quite their own. The stones of which they are composed are polygonal, but the lateral joints and external faces are dressed. The architecture, in fact, is that termed the third polygonal. The same style of building characterises the walls of another prehistoric fortress at Boghaz Keui, supposed to represent the ancient Pteria, about fifty miles to the east of the lower Halys. At Boghaz Keui, too, there are sculptures which the first glance will show us belong to the same peculiar style of art, and were perhaps the work of the same people, as the sculptures of Karabel and Ghiaur-Kalessi. But they are on a far larger scale, and are intended to represent divinities rather than men. The flat surface of an amphitheatre of rock has been covered with these remarkable figures. There they stand, figure after figure, as it were in a triumphal procession, the goddesses crowned with mural crowns, the feet of some among them resting on leopards and lions, like certain deities on the carved gems of ancient Babylonia, while the gods appear in lofty tiaras or Phrygian caps, and all bear in their hands the symbols of their attributes and divinity. In one spot we see the double-headed eagle which in later days was chosen by the Seljukian sultans as their crest, and has since been made familiar to ourselves by the two empires of Central Europe. In another place is the winged solar disk, imported originally from Assyria, but given a new and characteristic form of its own.
But the rocks of Boghaz Keui bear upon them something more precious than even these sculptured deities and their strange symbols. At one place an inscription of ten or eleven lines has been cut in relief upon the stone, while close to each divinity are other inscriptions cut in a similar way and containing the names of the gods to whom they are attached. The inscriptions are composed of a number of curious hieroglyphics, some resembling the hieroglyphics of Egypt, others altogether peculiar, such as tip-tilted shoes, tiaraed human heads, or the heads of animals in profile, while others again have lost all likeness to the objects of which they were originally the pictures.
These hieroglyphics, though still undeciphered, have already let us into the secrets of the sculptures they accompany. The figure at Karabel has exactly the same hieroglyphics, cut in relief, attached to it. Texier first detected them, but his drawing was incorrect, and the chief object of my visit to the spot last year was to obtain a facsimile. Now that the facsimile has been obtained, we have positive proof that the race which produced the sculptures of Karabel, of Ghiaur-Kalessi, and of Boghaz Keui, used everywhere the same system of writing.
We now know what this race was. It was the race called Hittites in the Old Testament, Kheta and Khatti on the monuments of Egypt and Assyria, whom Mr. Gladstone would identify with the Keteians of the Odyssey. Their wars with Egypt are pictured on the walls of the great temples of Thebes and Abu-Simbel, and we may read at Karnak the text of a treaty made by the Egyptian monarch Ramses II., the Sesostris of Herodotus, with the king of the Hittites, after long years of inglorious struggle. The Hittites entered into alliance with Egypt upon equal terms, and the two monarchs agreed not to punish the political offenders who may have fled from the one country to the other during the period of mutual conflict. The Hittite text of the treaty, we are told, was engraved upon a tablet of silver; and although this was done more than 3000 years ago, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the tablet may yet be found.
For the northern capital of the Hittite prince has been discovered, and is now being excavated at the expense of the British Museum. It was called by the Hittites Carchemish, the city which commanded the fords of the Euphrates, on the high road from Assyria to the west, and the spot were Pharaoh Necho was foiled by Nebuchadnezzar in his attempt to win for Egypt the sovereignty of Western Asia. Its ruins are now called Jerabîs or Jerablus, an Arabic perversion of the Greek Hierapolis, 'the sacred city' of the Asiatic goddess. Here, about sixteen miles to the south of the modern Birejik, was the chief seat of Hittite power and wealth, down to the time when its last king, Pisiris, was overcome by the armies of Sargon, and the Hittite capital became the seat of an Assyrian governor.
The first fruits of the excavations at Carchemish have reached this country in the shape of two fragments of stone, thickly covered with inscriptions in relief, and one of them still showing portions of the figure of a king. The dress of the figure, as well as the style of art to which it belongs, are identical with those of the figures of Karabel and Boghaz Keui, and, what is more, the hieroglyphics by which it is accompanied are identical with those I copied on the Lydian monument. The Hittite origin of the monuments of Asia. Minor to which I have been drawing attention is thus put beyond. question.
Mr. George Smith, to whom along with Mr. Skene is due the credit of identifying the site of Carchemish, found a broken statue No. 608 (No. CXXVIII. N. s.)
on the spot, with another inscription on the back in what we may now term Hittite characters. A leading peculiarity of these characters is that, wherever they have hitherto been met with, they are always in relief, never incised. This points to the fact that plates of metal must have been the first writing materials used by the Hittites, a fact which is further confirmed by other evidence.
The inscriptions disinterred at Carchemish are not the only ones that have come from the territory of the Hittites. Another exists at Aleppo, and five others in a hieratic form of the characters were noticed as long ago as 1812 by Burckhardt, built into the walls of houses at Hamath, where careful copies of them have since been made. Clay impressions of seals, too, were discovered by Sir A. H. Layard in the record-chamber of Sennacherib's palace, inscribed with strange characters, which long remained a mystery. But when attention was at length directed to the hieroglyphics of Hamath it turned out that the strange characters were Hittite hieroglyphics, and that the seals on which they were inscribed had probably been attached to treaties signed by Hittite kings.
In Lykaonia also, on the road traversed by Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, Hittite sculptures and hieroglyphics have been found carved on the rock. In the neighbourhood of the silver-mines of the Bulgar Dagh, Mr. Davis has come across them at Ibreez, or Ivris, a little to the south of Eregle, the ancient Kybistra, as well as at Bulgar Maden (near Chifteh Khan), while Mr. E. Calvert has told me of another in the same vicinity, where the characters are accompanied by the figure of a god clothed in the Hittite tiara, and the two smaller figures of his worshippers.
The Paschal Chronicle, too, has preserved a curious passage, quoted probably from a writer of Asia Minor, which states that a figure of Perseus,' carved in the rock, existed just outside the walls of Ikonium in Lykaonia, once called Amandra. It was in this same Ikonium that a legend was preserved of an ancient hero, Nannakos or Annakos, who, like the biblical Enoch, lived before the age of the Flood; and here, too, M. Texier saw the coloured image of a warrior, half Hittite, half Greek, in style, beneath which are the fragments of an inscription in Kypriote characters.
But perhaps the most remarkable of all these Hittite monuments are the sculptures at Eyuk, near Boghaz Keui, first discovered by Hamilton and since photographed by Perrot. Here on the slope of a low hill are the remains of a palace, built not of limestone, like the other monuments of Asia Minor, but of dark granite. Ruined as it is, sufficient is left to show that it was modelled on the plan of the palaces of Assyria. At its entrance are two huge monoliths, with the faces carved into the likeness of sphinxes. But the sphinxes,
1 Pasch. Chron. ed. 1688, p. 39. It would seem from this that a figure similar to those at Karabel must have existed at Ikonium. There is another curious statement in the Chronicle, to the effect that the Dardani of the Troad were the descendants of the Hittites.
though inspired by the art of Egypt, are profoundly different from the sphinxes of the valley of the Nile, and only their feet and faces are hewn out of the stone. One of the monoliths further bears upon it the same double eagle that is portrayed on the rocks of Pteria; but this double eagle once supported the figure of a god. The monoliths were flanked by walls, one of which is still fairly preserved. Along it runs a line of sculptures which carry, each one of them, the impress of Hittite art. Here we may see the Hittite warrior in his peculiar dress, there the Hittite priest robed as he is at Boghaz Keui. Elsewhere the building of the palace itself is brought before our eyes, and the workmen are represented ascending a ladder, or otherwise assisting in the work. Elsewhere, again, it is a bull, mounted on a sort of pedestal, and drawn with the skill that characterises the delineation of the animal forms occurring among the Hittite characters; or again, it is a musician and a snake-charmer. Hard by is a man leading a monkey, a picture we might think somewhat out of place in so cold and northern a country. But, curiously enough, it is with monkeys that the Assyrian monuments associate the kinsmen of the Hittites who inhabited those very regions. On the walls of the palace of Assur-natsir-pal at Nimrud or Calah, an attendant in peaked boots is leading a monkey, just as he is at Eyuk, and following his lord, who wears the characteristic cap and shoes of the Hittite race. The black obelisk of Shalmaneser, the son of Assur-natsir-pal, tells us that he too received apes and monkeys from the people of Muzri, in Western Armenia, and among the tribute-bearers are some represented in the familiar Phrygian cap and tip-tilted shoes.
It is thus that we now know how, at an age of which history and tradition are alike silent, the influence and art and writing of the Hittites were making their way to the far West, carrying with them the elements of Eastern civilisation. The twofold road they travelled over became one at Sardes, which was thus predestined to be the future centre of power and civilising influence throughout the Western world. The interest that envelopes the rock-carving of Karabel is accordingly very great; the fact that the onward march of Hittite civilisation was stayed only by the waters of the Ægean, is there engraved, as it were, in stone. But this is not the only interest that attaches to the sculpture. Long before the days of Renouard or of Texier, the Ionic settlers in Lydia had gazed upon the sculpture and wondered whose it was. The father of history,' Herodotus himself, guessed, though vainly, at its origin. He tells us that in Ionia are two figures carved on the rocks, one by the the road that leads from the Ephesian territory to Phokaa, the other by that which leads from Sardes to Smyrna; in each case a man is sculptured, three feet in height, the right hand armed with a spear and the left with a bow, and the rest of his clothing to match, for it is Egyptian and Ethiopic; and the sacred characters of Egypt run carved across the breast from shoulder to shoulder, with this meaning: "I won this land with my shoulders!" But who he was or