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40

BABYLONIA

AND

wis), which, though now 130 miles inland, was once the seaport of primeval Chaldaea. As about 46 miles of land have been formed by the silting up of the shore since the foundation of Spasinus Charax (Mohammerah) > and Eridu *n ^me Alexander the Great, or about 115 ' feet a year, the foundation of Eridu must go back to at least 6000 b.c. Babylon seems to have been a colony of Eridu, since its patron-god, Merodach, was a son of Ea of Eridu, while Ur, now Muqayyar, on the western bank of the Euphrates, must have owed its foundation to Nippur, El-lil, the god of Nippur, being accounted the father of the Moon-god of Ur. The two streams of culture which flowed from Nippur and Eridu afforded a strong contrast. Ea of Eridu was a god of light and beneficence, who employed his Origin of divine wisdom in healing the sick and restoring culture11311 th® dead to life. Rising each morning from his palace in the deep, he had given man the arts and sciences, the industries and manners of civilization. El-lil of Nippur, on the contrary, was the lord of the ghost-land, and his gifts to mankind were the spells and incantations which the spirits of good or evil were compelled to obey. But both Ea and El-lil were the gods of the early Sumerian population of Babylonia, who spoke an agglutinative language, and to whom the invention of the cuneiform system of writing, or rather the pictorial hieroglyphs out of which it developed, was due, as well as all the other elements of Babylonian civilization. All the older inscriptions are in the Sumerian language, and the princes of the older epoch all bear Sumerian names. The precise linguistic position of this language is still a matter of dispute. Professor Hommel has advanced strong reasons for believing it to be related to the Turko-Tatar family; Professor de la Couperie and Mr Ball have endeavoured to connect it with Chinese. The present writer has long since given up the belief that it was a primitive form of Ural-Finnic. All that can be said positively about it is that it is an early representative of the agglutinative languages. There were two dialects of it, one spoken in Sumer or Southern Babylonia, and called by the native grammarians “ the pure language ” (eme-lakhkha), the other in Akkad or N orthern Babylonia, and termed “ the woman’s language ” (eme-sal). The latter was much affected by phonetic decay and the influence of a Semitic population, which was more numerous in Akkad than in Sumer, and its native appellation was probably derived from its being spoken imperfectly by the Semitic wives of Sumerian husbands. At an early period the Sumerians came into contact with Semitic tribes on the Arabian side of the Euphrates, and after their engineering works had regulated the water-supply of Babylonia and rendered it one of the most fertile of agricultural countries Semitic settlers established themselves in it, and before 3800 B.c. became the predominant population in Akkad or Northern Babylonia. The languages spoken by the two races were naturally affected by the intercourse between them; Sumerian was influenced by Semitic Babylonian, and still more Semitic Babylonian by Sumerian. Indeed, the Semitic Babylonian of literature may be described as a mixed language, though not to the same extent as modern English. It was many centuries, however, before it succeeded in superseding the older language of the country; in fact, it is questionable whether Sumerian did not survive in some of the country districts of Sumer as late as the Greek period, and even under the dynasty of Khammurabi official texts were still published in the two languages, the older language of Sumer taking the first place. Long after the establishment of Semitic supremacy Sumerian continued to be the language of law, and it remained the language of the official religion to the very last.

ASSYRIA

The alluvial plain of Babylonia, after its reclamation from swamp and jungle, was called by the Sumerians the Edin or “ Plain,” a word which was borrowed by Semitic Babylonian under the form of Edinnu, of Eden^ the Eden of Gen. ii. 8. A Sumerian hymn describes a magical tree—the tree of life—which “ grew in Eridu,” in “the centre of the earth,” where the god Ea walks in his garden, forbidden to man, and Tammuz dwells beneath its shade, while the Tigris and Euphrates flow on either side. In this description it is difficult not to see a parallel to that of the Biblical Gardei^of Eden.1 Hardly any addition has been made to our knowledge of Assyrian chronology, no further copies of the eponym canon having been found since 1889. The first Chroao lists of limmi, or eponymous archons who gave Jogy their names to their years of office, were brought to light by Sir H. Rawlinson (Athenaeum, 1862). They are twofold in character, one version containing merely a list of the eponyms in their chronological order, while in the other their titles are added as well as the chief event which marked each term of office. They furnish a continuous and accurate chronology from 893 b.c. (or 911, if George Smith was right in the position he assigned to a fragment of one of them) down to 666 b.c., fixed dates being given within this period by the capture of Samaria in 722 b.c. and the solar eclipse of 15th June 763 B.c., which took place in the ninth year of the reign of Assurdan III. Babylonian chronology, however, which a few years ago was almost a blank, has now been to a considerable extent recovered. George Smith had already discovered a fragment of what must have been a complete list of the Chaldean dynasties with their respective dates (Trans. S.B.A. iii. 2, 1874), and portions had been published of a so-called Synchronous History of Assyria and Babylonia, consisting of brief notices of the occasions on which the kings of the two countries had entered into relation, hostile or otherwise, with one another (Sayce, Records of the Past, first series, iv. pp. 24-35). In 1880 Mr. Pinches discovered a tablet, which seems to have been a schoolboy’s exercise, containing a list of the kings of the first two dynasties of Babylon, and in 1884 a chronological list of the dynasties that reigned in Babylonia from the time that Babylon became the capital of the whole kingdom. In the same year “ The Babylonian Chronicle ” was also discovered by the same scholar. This is a compilation from older records made in the time of Darius, from a Babylonian point of view, and when perfect must have given a very complete synopsis of Babylonian history, with dates and synchronisms. The portions of it thus far known relate to the Kassite dynasty and the conquest of Babylon by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Ninip, in the 13th century b.c., and more especially to the period beginning with the third year of Nabonassar in Babylonia and the accession of Tiglath-pileser III. in Assyria (745 b.c.), and ending with the accession of Samas-sum-yukin (668 b.c.). In Babylonia time was registered, not by eponyms, but by the chief event that distinguished each year of a king’s reign, the accession and death of the king being of course noted. At the end of a reign a list of the dates belonging to it was drawn up, and from time to time these were combined into a longer record. In a commercial community, such as Babylonia was from the first, accurate dating was a matter of vital importance; the validity of contracts and other legal documents often depended upon 1 Kar-Duniyas, once miswritten Gan-Duniyas, has nothing to do with the Garden of Eden. It means “ the Wall ” or “ Fortification of the god Duniyas,” and was the name applied to Northern Babylonia, probably after the rise of the Kassite dynasty, from a line of fortifications which defended the frontier, and maybe “the Median Wall’ mentioned by Xenophon [Anab. ii. 4. 12).