The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7): Assyria eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 492 pages of information about The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7).

Except in the case of these covered vehicles, and of the chariots used in war and hunting, horses (as already observed) were not employed for draught.  The Assyrians appear to have regarded them as too noble for this purpose, unless where the monarch and those near to him were concerned, for whose needs nothing was too precious.  On the military expeditions the horses were carefully fed and tended.  Portable mangers were taken with the army for their convenience; and their food, which was probably barley, was brought to them by grooms in sieves or shallow boxes, whence no doubt it was transferred to the mangers. [PLATE CXL., Fig. 2.] They appear to have been allowed to go loose in the camp, without being either hobbled or picketed.  Care was taken to keep their coats clean and glossy by the use of the curry-comb, which was probably of iron. [PLATE CXL., Fig. 4.]

Halters of two kinds were employed.  Sometimes they consisted of a mere simple noose, which was placed in the horse’s mouth, and then drawn tight round the chin.  More often (as in the illustration) the rope was attached to a headstall, not unlike that of an ordinary bridle, but simpler, and probably of a cheaper material.  Leading reins, fastened to the bit of an ordinary bridle, were also common.

Such are the principal points connected with the peaceful customs of the Assyrians, on which the monuments recently discovered throw a tolerable amount of light.  Much still remains in obscurity.  It is not possible as yet, without drawing largely on the imagination, to portray in any completeness the private life even of the Assyrian nobles, much less that of the common people.  All that can be done is to gather up the fragments which time has spared; to arrange them in something like order, and present them faithfully to the general reader, who, it is hoped, will feel a certain degree of interest in them severally, as matters of archeology, and who will probably further find that he obtains from them in combination a fair notion of the general character and condition of the race, of its mingled barbarism and civilization, knowledge and ignorance, art and rudeness, luxury and simplicity of habits.  The novelist and even the essayist may commendably eke out the scantiness of facts by a free indulgence in the wide field of supposition and conjecture:  but the historian is not entitled to stray into this enchanted ground.  He must be content to remain within the tame and narrow circle of established fact.  Where his materials are abundant. he is entitled to draw graphic sketches of the general condition of the people; but where they are scanty, as in the present instance, he must be content to forego such pleasant pictures, in which the coloring and the filling-up would necessarily be derived, not from authentic data, but from his own fancy.

CHAPTER VIII.

RELIGION.

“The graven image, and the molten image.”—­NAHUM i. 14

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The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7): Assyria from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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