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learned author is inclined to think that Babylon, in its most flourishing state, may have contained 1,200,000 inhabitants.
Such, then, was the capital of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, until sacked and destroyed by Darius, according to the testimony of Herodotus, who visited the place scarcely a century after its first reduction by Cyrus, and about eighty-seven years after the more severe treatment inflicted on it by his successor. We have now to visit its mouldering remains, after the full accomplishment of the Divine denunciations pronounced against it by the mouth of his prophets: "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! I will make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction."* "And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness; a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby."t
* Isaiah, xiv., 12, 23.
† Jeremiah, li., 37, 43.
Ruins of Babylon described.
Allusions to them by ancient Authors.-From A.D. 917 to 1616.-Described by Niebuhr and Beauchamp.-By Olivier.-By Rich.-General Aspect.--Face of the Country.-Principal Mounds described.-Hill of Amran.-El-kasr.-Remarkable Tree.-Embankment.-Mujelibé.-Coffins discovered there.-Birs Nimrod.-Vitrified Masses.-Al Heimar.-Other Ruins.-Buckingham's Account and Opinions of the Mujelibé, El-kasr, &c.-Al Heimar.-The Birs.-Sir Robert Ker Porter.-His Description of the same Ruins.-His Search for farther Ruins on the west Side of the Euphrates.-Difficulty of reconciling the Position of these Ruins with the Accounts of ancient Historians.-Speculations regarding the ancient Walls of Babylon.-Probable Mistakes of Buckingham.-Changes in the Course of the Euphrates.-Conjectures concerning the Birs Nimrod-And the ancient Borsippa.-Discrepancy between ancient Accounts.-Arrian and Berosus.-Cities built from the Ruins of Babylon.-Ainsworth's Suggestion of a Change of Names for the several Ruins.-His Mistakes in regard to Measurements.The vitrified Masses.-Much Room yet for Investigation respecting these Ruins and the circumjacent Country.-Prospects of this being effected.
THE gigantic mounds and mouldering heaps which are now all that remains of this great capital, have for ages past attracted the notice of travellers. Ibn Haukul, the Persian geographer, in 917 A.C., speaks of Babel as a small village, and assumes that hardly any remains of Babylon were to be seen. Abulfeda describes the former merely as the place where Ibrahim ul Khaleel was cast into the fire. The city, he says, is now destroyed, and replaced by a diminutive hamlet, and, quoting from Ibn Haukul, he calls it the most ancient structure of Irak, from which the surrounding country took its name. "The Canaanitish kings and their descendants dwelt here; its ruins declare it to have been an extensive city." Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish traveller of the twelfth century, remarks that nothing was to be seen but the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace, into which no one dared to enter, on account of the serpents and scorpions with which it was infested. In 1583, Eldred, an English merchant, on his way from Bir to Bagdad, passed the "old mighty city of Babylon, many ruins whereof are easily to be seen by daylight;"
and he mentions, in particular, the Tower of Babel, which he describes as a quarter of a mile in circuit, and about the height of St. Paul's, but it "showeth much bigger;" and he farther states that it was built of very large sundried bricks, cemented by courses of "mattes, made of canes, as though they had been laid within one yeere."
Rawolff, who visited the place in the sixteenth century, speaks of the remains of an ancient bridge, of the relics of ancient fortifications, and of the Temple of Belus, which was so much destroyed, and so full of venomous animals, that it could only be approached during two months of winter, when they do not leave their holes.
In 1616, Pietro della Valle visited the ruins, and described them rather generally as a confused heap of fragments, so covered over with earth that they looked sometimes as much like hills as buildings. There are on record the narratives of several other persons who travelled thither during the same century; but Niebuhr in 1765, and Beauchamp twenty years later, are the first among more modern authors who have given any account of the remains. The latter states that the ruins of Babylon are very conspicuous about one league north of the town of Hillah. "Above all the rest is one which is rather flat on the top, of an irregular form, about thirty toises or 180 feet high, and much cut up by furrows down the sides. It would never have been taken for a work of man, were it not for the regular layers of bricks which are visible, and which prove that it was no natural hill. Beyond this mound, on the bank of the river, are immense masses of building, which supplied bricks for the building of Hillah."
Besides these ruins, M. de Beauchamp likewise mentions a brick wall, which he calculates must have been sixty feet thick. "It ran," he observes, " parallel with the river, and may have been part of the wall of the city. I discovered also a subterranean channel, which, instead of being vaulted, was covered with flat stones three feet broad by six or seven long. These ruins extend several miles to the north of Hillah, and satisfactorily prove this to have been the site of ancient Babylon." He also alludes to Brouss, on the opposite side of the river, but he does not describe it.
A few years after, Olivier visited these ruins, which he describes as being so far from presenting any traces of a
city, that a careful examination is required before some of the mounds, dug into on all sides, are discovered. Among these heaps, he particularizes one, which, he says, appears to be the remains of the Temple of Belus, built by Semiramis. The surface of it is formed of earth; but from the interior the Arabs dig out large baked bricks, cemented with a layer of reeds and bitumen; and the circumference he estimates at 1100 to 1200 ordinary paces. This is certainly the Mujelibé, as he says that it is situated about one league north of Hillah; and he adds, that between it and the river there are a great many heaps, and many foundations of ancient walls.
"Here it is that in general are found the large bricks on which are the inscriptions in unknown characters. There are some ruins to be found on the west side of the Euphrates, where likewise are sometimes found bricks with inscriptions on them; but I sought in vain for traces of the palace of the kings, nor could I discover, in any direction, the ramparts or walls of the city." Hence it is plain that Olivier did not see, or, at least, did not visit, the Birs.
The first comprehensive and authentic account we possess is from the pen of Claudius James Rich, of the East India Company's civil service, who for many years filled the important situation of Resident at Bagdad, and, through the consideration he enjoyed from his official situation and high character, possessed peculiar advantages for prosecuting his researches. Of these he fully availed himself; and, repairing to Hillah, accompanied by the requisite guards, he spent ten days upon the ground, zealously occupied in investigation and inquiry. We shall, therefore, take his description of these ruins as the groundwork of our own, adding what farther may appear expedient from the observations of subsequent writers.
"From the accounts of modern travellers," says he, "I had expected to have found on the site of Babylon more or less than I actually did. Less, because I could have formed no conception of the prodigious extent of the whole ruins, or of the size, solidity, and perfect state of some of the parts of them; and more, because I thought that I should have distinguished some traces, however imperfect, of many of the principal structures of Babylon. I imagined, I should have said, 'Here were the walls, and such must have been the extent of the area; there stood the pal
ace, and this, most assuredly, was the Tower of Belus.' I was completely deceived: instead of a few insulated mounds, I found the whole face of the country covered with vestiges of buildings, in some places consisting of brick walls surprisingly fresh, in others merely of a vast succession of mounds of rubbish, of such indeterminate figures, variety, and extent, as to involve the person who should have formed any theory in inextricable confusion. I shall confine myself, in the present Memoir, to a plain, minute, and accurate statement of what I actually saw, avoiding all conjectures except where they may tend to throw light on the description, or be the means of exciting others to inquiry and consideration.
"The whole country between Bagdad and Hillah is a perfectly flat and (with the exception of a few spots as you approach the latter place) uncultivated waste. That it was at some former period in a far different state, is evident from the number of canals by which it is traversed, now dry and neglected, and the quantity of heaps of earth, covered with fragments of brick and broken tiles, which are seen in every direction-the indisputable traces of former population."*
Little need be added to this general description of the appearances on the ground, for the accuracy of which every one who has visited the spot will readily vouch. The wide extent of mounds and vestiges of buildings must, in truth, arrest the attention of every beholder, who, at the same time, will not fail to remark how little the shapeless heaps on which he gazes can suggest in any degree either the nature or object of the structures of which they are the wrecks. After a minute account of the surrounding country, Mr. Rich goes on to describe the ruins. The principal masses on the eastern side of the river extend from a point about two miles north of Hillah for a space of three miles in the same direction, and are chiefly embraced by a long circulart mound, which commences near the southeast corner of the Mujelibé, and, taking a wide detour to the eastward, terminates at the southeast corner of the eminence called the Hill of Amran. There is, besides, a long ridge called
* Narrative of a Journey to the Site of Babylon, &c., by Claudius James Rich, Esq., 8vo, London, 1839, p. 33-46.
+ Sir R. K. Porter describes it as two straight lines converging to an angle.