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 577 pages of information about The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 2. (of 7).

The Semitic character of the vocabulary will probably be felt to be sufficiently established by the following lists: 

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“Architecti multarum artium solertes.”—­Mos.  CHOR. (De Assyriis) i. 15.

The luxury and magnificence of the Assyrians, and the advanced condition of the arts among them which such words imply, were matters familiar to the Greeks and Romans, who, however, had little ocular evidence of the fact, but accepted it upon the strength of a very clear and uniform tradition.  More fortunate than the nations of classical antiquity, whose comparative proximity to the time proved no advantage to them, we possess in the exhumed remains of this interesting people a mass of evidence upon the point, which, although in many respects sadly incomplete, still enables us to form a judgment for ourselves upon the subject, and to believe—­on better grounds than they possessed—­the artistic genius and multiform ingenuity of the Assyrians.  As architects, as designers, as sculptors, as metallurgists, as engravers, as upholsterers, as workers in ivory, as glass-blowers, as embroiderers of dresses, it is evident that they equalled, if they did not exceed, all other Oriental nations.  It is the object of the present chapter to give some account of their skill in these various respects.  Something is now known of them all; and though in every case there are points still involved in obscurity, and recourse must therefore be had upon occasion to conjecture, enough appears certainly made out to justify such an attempt as the present, and to supply a solid groundwork of fact valuable in itself, even if it be insufficient to sustain in addition any large amount of hypothetical superstructure.

The architecture of the Assyrians will naturally engage our attention at the outset.  It is from an examination of their edifices that we have derived almost all the knowledge which we possess of their progress in every art; and it is further as architects that they always enjoyed a special repute among their neighbors.  Hebrew and Armenian united with Greek tradition in representing the Assyrians as notable builders at a very early time.  When Asshur “went forth out of the land of Shinar,” it was to build cities, one of which is expressly called “a great city.”  When the Armenians had to give an account of the palaces and other vast structures in their country, they ascribed their erection to the Assyrians.  Similarly. when the Greeks sought to trace the civilization of Asia to its source, they carried it back to Ninus and Semiramis, whom they made the founders, respectively, of Nineveh and Babylon, the two chief cities of the early world.

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